Everybody wants more for less these days, and that premise is the key to the success of Drive’s Car of Year for 2011, the Mercedes-Benz C250 CDI.
The family-sized Benz has more torque, or pulling power, than a lot of petrol-guzzling V8s, yet it uses less fuel than the average city runabout.
The secret to this impressive balancing act is the diesel engine that lurks beneath its stately bonnet.
So what makes diesel cars, and our Car of the Year, the Mercedes-Benz C250 CDI, a winning formula?
Well, for a start the C250CDI can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just a tick over seven seconds, which is similar performance to a big six-cylinder petrol engine. Take it out on the freeway and its rolling acceleration will be the equal of many V8s, which makes long-distance cruising and overtaking an effortless exercise.
That is impressive in itself, but when you add the fact that it uses a claimed average of 5.1 litres per 100km – less than the tiny Volkswagen Polo – it is outstanding. The figures help explain why 20 of the 46 vehicles in this year’s awards are diesel powered.
Fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions have become a top priority for every car maker and modern common-rail diesel engines, matched to the latest fuel-saving techno-trickery, are one of the easiest paths to greener motoring.
The Mercedes, and nine other finalists, use stop-start technology to improve fuel consumption in congested cities. When the car is stopped at the lights, the engine switches off to save fuel.