I have always driven diesel manual vehicles, the most recent cars being a Peugeot and Mazda 6. I need to buy a new vehicle in the next couple months. What diesel vehicle is recommended which isn't a ute or large four-wheel-drive model?
My daily driving is a minimum of 80kms per day on highway/country roads, some of it gravel. I require something bigger than a hatchback to fit four adults comfortably and mid-size luggage space.
While there are still plenty of diesel options available, unfortunately most of the vehicles we would recommend are now only offered with an automatic transmission because that is the gearbox of choice for the vast majority of Australian buyers. But the good news is that the auto diesel wagons and SUVs are nowadays much more fun and efficient than in the old days, so you are not likely to be at a disadvantage.
If you are only in the market for a diesel manual, then the Subaru Forester 2.0D manual or larger Outback 2.0D manual are the ones for you, and come with the added bonus of all-wheel drive for better traction.
Yes, the Forester is regarded as a medium-sized SUV, but it is based on a car and not a truck or 4x4, and so is very car-like to drive. The Outback, meanwhile, is a slightly raised Liberty wagon in the more conventional sense.
In the same medium SUV vein as the Forester is the new Mazda CX-5 AWD diesel auto, which is actually based on the front-drive Mazda 6 wagon but improved with lots more refinement and noise-reduction technology. It is a cracking drive and lovely to sit inside as well.
Of the more conventional wagon types, the Ford Mondeo TDCi front-drive is both great to drive and very quiet and comfortable, so that also gets our vote.
And the Volkswagen Passat front-drive or its Subaru Outback-style slightly raised Passat Alltrack AWD sister come highly recommended too, though there might be higher European vehicle maintenance costs over time.
Note that like the Mazda CX-5, these too are auto only.
We hope this helps.