Steering Column 24.04.09

Burning the Mazda oil

Mazda has brought out a new diesel engine in its little hatchback range known as the Mazda2.

The original 1.4-litre, 67bhp engine still remains, but there’s a new 1.6-litre turning out a much more tasty 89bhp.

Okay, with a 0-62mph sprint time of 11.4 seconds it’s no sports car, but it does have the advantage of a very useful 215Nm of torque which means it will keep going on the uphills as well as on the flats.

It will be most attractive because of its fuel economy and low carbon dioxide emissions. It’s capable of an average of over 67 miles per gallon and it pumps only 112g of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere in a kilometre. That means it qualifies for the £35 a year road tax which is about the same as my motorbike.

You can get the engine in a Mazda2 with either three or five doors. Prices begin at £12,817 and they’re both extremely good looking little cars.

There really is no practical reason why you would plump for the lesser rated engine except that it is about £1,700 cheaper. It’s significantly slower in that it takes a full four seconds longer to reach 62mph, and yet it’s only around 2mpg less fuel efficient on average.

Oil-burning scorcher

Volkswagen is showing the world that a diesel-powered car doesn’t necessarily have to be the “sensible shoes” choice.

It is launching a performance Golf called the GTD in June and orders are being taken now. Looking like a GTI, it’s powered by a two-litre TDI engine that turns out 168bhp and an impressive 258lb.ft. of torque that can be fed to the front wheels through a six-speed manual or an automatic DSG gearbox.

Translating that into sprint times, the Golf GTD will do the 0-62mph sprint in a whisker over eight seconds then run on to a top speed just short of 140mph. Despite this its average fuel consumption is over 53mpg which means it has a realistic range of over 640 miles between fill-ups.

It’s a mite more pricey than the likes of the Mazda2 in that it’s bigger, brassier and bolder. Prices begin at £21,850 for a three-door manual and rise to £23,740 for a five-door with the automatic gearbox.


If the GTD sounds good to you but it’s a bit small for your needs, the Vauxhall Insignia family car with the ecoFLEX engine and set up could be for you.

On sale now, its prices start at £19,600 and it is capable of running an average of 54.7mpg.

The ecoFLEX Insignia is powered by a two-litre diesel CDTi engine that turns out 158bhp and can make that standard sprint in 8.9 seconds, yet its carbon dioxide emissions are down at just 136g/km.

How is it possible? Well Vauxhall says better streamlining, lowering the ride height and fitting low rolling resistance Michelin tyres go a long way to achieving the desired result.

Changing the ratios in the gearbox also helps, but there’s also a dashboard indicator that tells the driver when to change gear to get the best economy from the car.

Mike Grundon


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