High fuel efficiency leads to boom in sales
By Kim Tae-jong
Imported vehicles equipped with diesel engines are becoming more popular as consumers here look for cars with greater fuel-efficiency.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, seven out of the top 10 best-selling vehicles between January and May were diesel powered cars.
In fact, sales of imported diesel passenger vehicles have been rising sharply over the past few years. Their market share accounted for over 20 percent in 2009, but jumped to over 30 percent last year.
In order to keep up with this growing demand, foreign brands have launched more diesel models here.
“We expect cars with diesel engines to account for over 40 percent of the imported car market this year,” an official from Volkswagen said.
The popularity of diesel-powered cars was led mostly by Volkswagen and BMW, which have introduced a range of lineups with various price tags. Now, other luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi have also joined them with new vehicles and even Japanese automakers have started to introduce more vehicles with diesel engines.
Experts say customers are attracted to the high fuel efficiency of diesel engines, which are about 30 to 40 percent more fuel-efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines and they also produce a lot more torque than gas engines, making them feel faster and more powerful.
Cars with diesel engines by foreign brands are preferred because they have successfully removed negative images such as air pollution, noise and vibration, they add.
The following famous marquee brands offer models with diesel engines.
Volkswagen’s Golf series is recognized as a pioneer of diesel engines in the small car sector.
The automaker’s Golf 2.0 TDI has been a steady-seller here for years, and was the 7th most popular imported vehicle between January and May.
Thanks to its turbocharged engine with direct injection, this small car has 140 horse power and maximum torque of 32.6 kilogram-meters. Most impressively, its fuel efficiency stands at 17.9 km per liter. It is available for 33.4 million won.
For those who love sportier vehicles, the automaker also introduced the Scirocco R-Line here last February to adding to VW’s coupe range.
The new sporty coupe is also equipped with a TDI engine that has 170 hp and maximum torque of 35.7 kg-m. It is priced at 42.2 million won.
The BMW 320d is one of the best-selling diesel engine cars in the world and was the third best-selling imported car in Korea.
It has 184 hp and maximum torque of 38.8kg-m, and only takes 7.6 seconds to reach 100 kilometers per hour. But what’s most impressive is its high fuel efficiency of 22.1 km/l, almost equivalent to that of a city car.
The vehicle has four variants with price tags starting at 48.8 million won. The 320d ED version is also available, and has an even better fuel efficiency of 23.8 km/l, at a cost of 45 million won.
But interestingly enough, the more expensive BMW 520d has sold more than the 3-series in Korea and has become the top-selling imported car here.
Its diesel engine has 184 hp and maximum torque of 39.8 kg-m. Its fuel efficiency stands at 19.9 km/l.
But the vehicle is expensive with the price range starting at 61.6 million won.
Mercedes Benz has launched the new B-Class here, the second generation of the family car range.
There are two new B-Class models available here — the B 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and the B 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Sports Package, which are available at 37.9 million won and 42.5 million won, respectively.
They are the first models in the range with a diesel engine, which offer more power and torque than the previous B-class variants they have replaced, and with greater fuel efficiency.
As their name imply, their fuel efficiency stands at 16.8 km/l with a comparatively low carbon dioxide emission of 125 grams per kilometer.
But their engine still promises an outstanding performance with 136 hp and a maximum torque of 30.6 kg-m.
Volvo has launched the S60 with 2-liter diesel engine here after the 2.4-liter S60.
The smaller engine version also promises outstanding performances with 163 hp and maximum torque of 40.8 kg-m. Its fuel efficiency stands at 16.0 km/l.
To minimize the inconvenience of diesel engines, the all-new Volvo S60 is backed up by a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience, such as the Advanced Stability Control or Corner Traction Control, which uses torque vectoring so the car can take curves more smoothly.
The S60 is also equipped with the automaker’s City Safety technology, which was previously only available in premium XC60 models. It helps reduce, and even prevent, low-speed collisions as the vehicle at a speed of less than 30 km/h can automatically apply the brakes if the driver does not respond in time ahead of possible collision. The vehicle is available for 44.8 million won.