What Are The Best Big Diesel Engines?

So after watching Channel 4’s Dispatches about diesel engines last night, it got me in the mood to talk about my favourite subject. Big, dirty, powerful diesel engines. And I’m not talking about the ones found on buses and lorries, I’m talking about my top favourite performance diesel engines.


  1. Mercedes-Benz OM642, 3.0-litre V6


At the bottom end of my list, is Mercedes Benz’s 3.0L Diesel. The current engine is used in cars such as the S350 and E350. In the big S-Class, it produces 235bhp and almost 400lbs/ft of torque! Great performance and adequate economy.


  1. Range Rover 4.4-litre SDV8


Slightly higher up the list is Land Rover’s silky smooth 4.4L V8. It’s a supercharged diesel engine, found on many current Range Rover models. From climbing mountains, to pulling trailers, its 334bhp is sure to impress. It will go through a lot of tyres too when it’s producing 516lbs/ft of torque!


  1. Audi Twin Turbo 3.0L V6

Motorenpalette aus Neckarsulm - TDI-Motoren/3,0l V6 TDI (176 kW)

This engine is featured on the Audi SQ5 and they claim it’s the cleanest diesel in the world. It’s an impressive engine; one which I have had the pleasure of driving. It certainly didn’t feel like a dirty diesel. With 309bhp and 480lbs/ft of torque, coupled to the 8-speed Audi Tiptronic, it certainly pushes you back into your seat.


  1. Audi Twin Turbo 4.2-litre V8

An absolute power house of an engine, featured on the Q7 and A8 models. It’s a total tyre shredder of a unit, capable of 321bhp and 479lbs/ft of torque. It’s the ultimate motorway cruiser or mountain climber.



Up until now, the engines featured have been pretty ‘standard’. Nothing too extreme or amazing. Well…


  1. Volkswagen V10 TDi 5.0-litre


This is one of my favourite diesel engines. It totally coughs black smoke in the face of Boris Johnson and his ultra-low emission zone. There isn’t a lot you couldn’t pull in one of these. Fifth Gear showed us this when they pulled a Boeing 747. They are a beast of an engine, and incredibly large (see the picture). It’s featured in VW’s older Touaregs and older Phaetons. Sadly, VW no longer produce this engine. It produces 309bhp and a mammoth 553lbs/ft of torque.


  1. Audi 6.0-litre V12 TDi


This is my favourite Diesel engine. Only featured in Audi’s Q7. They only sold around 40 units, which now means this beast of a car is super rare! It’s so rare, there isn’t even one listed on Autotrader! I did see one over a year back, cruising on the M1, at around 70mph, probably at no more than 1050rpm I’d guess. I would sell a kidney and a limb to own this car. I don’t care that it needs new tyres every 5000 miles, or that the fuel consumption will never hit 20mpg. This could literally pull a train, or a lorry, or a plane, or anything! It produces an enormous 737lbs/ft of torque and 493bhp. This is certainly my favourite by far, because of the rarity, and the inappropriateness of the person who decided to put the engine from Audi’s R10 Le Mans car into a road-going 4×4! It’s a shame an engine like this will probably never end up in a road car again.


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