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By Motoring Reporter


Keen on diesel but not a SUV? Here are SA’s five cheapest oil burners

Excluding bakkies and SUVs, oil-burning passenger vehicle availability as steadily declined over the last few years.

While very much still the fuel of choice for bakkies and SUVs, diesel has slowly been disappearing from South Africa’s passenger vehicle market as poor quality and move towards global electrification continues.

Once the “go-to” option for buyers a decade ago, and available in anything from a Volkswagen Polo to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the costs to modernise diesel, especially after the infamous diesel-gate scandal, has seen more and more manufacturers move away from Rudolf’s creation.

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Helped in no ways by Europe’s pending ban on internal combustion engines by 2035, plus the strict Euro 7 emissions regulations due to be implemented in 2025, the proverbial ticking clock continues for diesel with South Africa being no exception.

Once a haven for oil-burners, the local market’s passenger vehicle count has fallen dramatically to the point where prices are higher than ever and out of reach of most buyers still keen on reaping the benefits of diesel consumption.

Top five cheapest diesel passenger cars

In light of this, here are the five cheapest diesel cars, excluding bakkies and SUVs, still available in South Africa.

South Africa's five cheapest diesel cars
In base form, the 118d is now South Africa’s cheapest diesel passenger vehicle.
  • BMW 118d – R679 250

In its most basic form, the successor to the original 120d officially takes prominence as South Africa’s cheapest new diesel passenger vehicle.

Powered by Munich’s well regarded 110kW/350Nm 2.0-litre oil-burner hooked to an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox, the 118d has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.7 L/100 km and will do 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds before topping out at 214km/h.

South Africa's five cheapest diesel cars
Booted 218d Gran Coupe holds the distinction of the country’s cheapest diesel sedan
  • BMW 218d Gran Coupe – R729 858

Refreshed in March 2020, the 1 Series’ booted sibling, the 2 Series Gran Coupe, holds the distinction of being South Africa’s cheapest diesel sedan.

Like its sibling, the 218d Gran Coupe is motivated by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that feeds 110kW/350Nm to the front wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic ‘box. Claimed consumption is 4.8 L/100km, top speed 221km/h and 0-100 km/h 8.5 seconds.

South Africa's cheapest diesel cars
Once a diesel staple, the A4 TDI is still highly regarded
  • Audi A4 35 TDI – R784 500

Once the posterchild for diesel as nearly every model sported a TDI badge at one stage, the still respected 2.0 TDI prevails in the A4 line-up as the cheapest engine option.

Despite Ingolstadt’s confusing model designation initiated in 2017, the key specifics are 110kW/350Nm, a seven-speed S-tronic gearbox, 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds, a top speed of 219km/h and claimed fuel consumption of five-litres per 100km.

South Africa's cheapest diesel cars
Sedan version of the A-Class, the A200d, presents the most affordable entry into oil-burning Mercedes-Benz ownership
  • Mercedes-Benz A200d Progressive – R787 095

In the same capacity as Audi, and therefore the Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz’s diesel engine reputation is vested in automotive folklore and available in its cheapest form in the sedan version of the A-Class.

While no longer offered in the hatch, the 2.0-litre unit doesn’t rely on the three-pointed star’s association with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and is thus a Stuttgart-made unit that delivers its 110kW/320Nm to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Top speed is rated at 227km/h, with Benz claiming a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.2 seconds and fuel consumption of 4.5 L/100km.

South Africa's cheapest diesel cars
For many still the default 3 Series, the 320d’s reputation is still highly regarded
  • BMW 320d – R880 768

Still viewed as the default 3 Series model, despite being pricier than the 320i, the 320d still has a lot going for it despite its price having skyrocketed with each new generation.

Up front, the same 2.0-litre turbodiesel from the 118d and 218d Gran Coupe provides motivation, but with outputs of 140kW/400Nm.

As usual, drive is routed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic ‘box with BMW claiming a top speed of 235km/h, 0-100km/h in seven seconds and fuel consumption of five-litres per 100km

Additional information regarding price from duoporta.com.

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