Essentials of driving a diesel car
Diesel cars have stopped carrying the stigma that was once attached to these heavy-fuel burning beasts of burden. But while modern diesel cars have become less noisy, more refined and easily accepted by most common folk, driving one is still a whole different experience as compared to a petrol car. One important reason for this is the difference in power delivery between these two types of engines, with diesels producing less horsepower, revving slower, but making significantly more torque than their petrol powered counterparts. But don’t fret... here’s a little guide to help you do right with your diesel.
Displacement-for-displacement, diesel engines are more efficient than petrol engines. But there is always a thing or two you can do to squeeze that extra mile out of you diesel car. Firstly, since a diesel car makes more torque at low rpm, you can stay in a higher gear at relatively slower speeds. This also means that you don’t need to downshift, and spike up engine revs, as often each time you slow down. Don’t rev the engine too hard - the point just above the turbo boost zone is where the diesel engine will be most efficient. Also, try not to floor the throttle to get the engine to its boost zone. Instead, build the revs steadily till the turbo spools up.
Passing the buck
With a diesel, you’ll always have more torque at lower rpm as compared to a petrol, allowing the car to pick up the speed necessary for an overtake much more easily. While a downshift might not be completely unavoidable in a diesel car to start the pass, you don’t need to rev the engine too high to bring it into its powerband. But be prepared to shift as soon as the engine is about 1000-1500 odd revs beyond its turbo boost rpm. That way you’ll ensure that once you upshift and the revs drop, the engine speed will still be above the turbo boost rpm, giving a smooth continuous surge of power till you’ve completed the overtaking maneuver.
Beating the traffic beat
First thing’s first, just because your car has a diesel engine, don’t try and keep it in an overly high gear in traffic while making heavy use of the clutch to start moving. Shift down when the car demands so. Otherwise, when at seriously slow crawling speeds, you needn’t even bother with the throttle when starting off from a dead stop in first gear. Just ease off the clutch and the massive torque at idle revs should be enough to get the car moving. Also, in heavy traffic, get a feel for using the torque of the engine below the boost range, as it’ll usually be rather difficult to get the turbocharger spun up when crawling in stop-and-go city traffic.
A twist of the road
Contrary to popular belief, driving a diesel car on twisty mountain roads can be a lot of fun too. Again, torque is the key, and one must learn how to best use it when caning a diesel around the bends. The trick is to always keep the rpm above the boost band to get maximum speed coming out of corners. One needs to keep the car in the right gear when entering a corner, then maintain the revs through the turn and quickly go on the gas as you’re coming out. Be ready to shift up quickly though. Unlike a petrol engine, revving a diesel to its redline will actually slow you down, as its extra torque will keep spinning the wheels endlessly.