Special Report

Ward’s 10 Best Engines

Every year, there is one engine, more than any other, we wish we could just bring to your house to let you try.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz 3.0L V-6 turbodiesel is that engine.

See, if you haven’t yet been fortunate enough to experience what we call “new age” diesel, there’s only so much we can do to verbally translate how the inexorable turbine surge of 400 lb.-ft. (540 Nm) of torque at a stupefyingly low 1,600 rpm can absolutely change your stinkin’ life.

You push the throttle, this engine just shoves and shoves – it’s how warp drive will feel in a few hundred years.

Mercedes has more than a little history with diesel, and currently is casting some of the world’s best examples.

This tidy-displacement, 72-degree V-6 is the perfect example of why contemporary high-tech diesels are so right for the times. The monstrous torque delivers all the on-the-road performance you could reasonably desire. How can you argue with torque that trashes any V-8 that comes down the road?

And hybrid-shaming efficiency means you won’t feel like an environmental cad every time you put your foot down.

Yes, there’s only 3.0L here, but Mercedes’ own mighty gasoline-fueled AMG 6.3L DOHC V-8 out-torques this half-displacement diesel counterpart by a mere 65 lb.-ft. (88 Nm).

Correlating that torque with the 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km) city and mind-blowing 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km) highway fuel economy delivered by the Mercedes E320 Bluetec test vehicle almost defies logic.

And as some engineers have wistfully mentioned, diesels should appeal to the techno-buyer.

This new-age diesel checks off all the boxes when it comes to cutting-edge components: high-pressure, common-rail direct injection, piezohydraulic injectors, a variable-nozzle turbocharger. And it’s got an aluminum block, no engineering trifle for an engine generating such outsized combustion pressures.

Perhaps best of all, the sophisticated hardware has all but eradicated “dieselness.” Yes, you’ll hear some faint clatter if you insist on hearing it – but only at idle, and essentially only outside the vehicle.

Diesels continue to fight an uphill emissions battle. Currently, Mercedes sells this diesel in 42 states (and has a rather convoluted lease arrangement in California).

The long-awaited AdBlue urea-injection system, which will reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions to federal Tier 2, bin 5 levels, will allow vehicles powered by this superb diesel to be sold in all 50 states.

The AdBlue system will be introduced for ’09 Mercedes diesel SUVs later this year and will appear on the next-generation E-Class in 2009.

Based on our impressions of the excellent Mercedes 3.0L V-6 turbodiesel, we expect it to be at the vanguard of a diesel revolution for the U.S.

Ward’s 10 Best Engines is copyright Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward’s Automotive Group.