The hot hatchback is a sacred automotive institution. We all dream big of supercars and hypercars – but the hot hatchback is a devise that offers a more obtainable form a greatness, without skimping on the aforementioned greatness. They can be practical, economical, affordable, and most importantly, they are a hoot to drive. Which is why I find it absolutely abhorrent that somebody blessed with the possession of a brain would think it an excellent idea to shit on the hot hatch formula by fitting them with diesel engines.
The idea of putting a diesel engine into a hot hatch is motivated by the aim to achieve greater fuel economy. And that would be warranted, if petrol hot hatches were grotesquely thirsty. But they aren't. Take the Golf GTi and GTD as prime examples.
The GTi is said to deliver around 47mpg, and the GTD around 67. Sounds impressive. But in the real world, the GTD's mpg advantage slashes to around 10mpg – retaining around 46mpg, opposed to 36mpg in the GTi. While that's still pretty significant, think about what you're sacrificing just to achieve those few miles-per-gallon.
For a start, you're sacrificing power. The GTi develops 227bhp, resulting in a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds; whereas the GTD develops a mere 181bhp, resulting in a 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds. You're also sacrificing handling sharpness, as the heavy lump of a diesel engine up front will always blunt handling. You're also sacrificing engine sound quality, a chunk of driving enjoyment, a broad power band, and potentially reliability.
You see, diesels have to be fitted with these devices called EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valves as a way of keeping the pesky toxins that diesels emit out of the atmosphere. The problem is however, after enough use, the EGR's good work will result in it and the nearby manifold being coated with a startlingly thick layer of carbon goo. And when this layer becomes thick enough, it will prevent you from driving the car, as it simulates the automotive equivalent of having pneumonia.
As a devout petrolhead, I could not possibly walk into a dealership and order a hot hatch that was powered by diesel. It goes against the moral code of the petrolhead, so much in fact, that I don't think anyone who does buy a diesel hot hatch can proudly exclaim that they are a car enthusaist. If you care so much about economy that you are willing to sacrifice so many integral and intrinsic elements of what makes driving great, then you shouldn't be buying a hot hatchback. Diesel hot hatches are the chlamydia of the hot hatch genre: a fact which they willingly flaunt thanks to the fact that the diesel version of the Focus ST can poignantly be referred to as the Focus STD. And with that, I feel I need to say no more!
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Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
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