Diesel and gasoline-powered cars are very similar. Diesel technology has been around for years, and is a mainstay in models produced by companies like Volkswagen and BMW. They have often been a popular choice for consumers looking for a more efficient ride, as well as in larger pickup trucks and heavy machinery. The major difference between gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles lies deep in the mechanics, where fuel-injection and air compression make for alternate processes.

In diesel vehicles, air is compressed first, and fuel injected later. The fuel then ignited from the heated compressed air. In traditional gasoline-powered engines, fuel is mixed with air, and then compressed and ignited by a spark plug. These differing processes lead to variations in energy exchanges, which can make some vehicles more efficient than others.

Most vehicles that use diesel fuel for propulsion are European in origin. Some American companies have started to implement it in domestic vehicles, as in the case of the Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Cruze. But traditionally, the stalwarts of diesel technology have been European luxury car makers. Diesel fuel often costs more than traditional gasoline as well, making it less attractive to low-end and economical consumers.

Here we take a look at the twenty fastest diesel-powered vehicles that have hit the road in recent years. We have included some modified models, but excluded concept cars, one-offs and race cars. There are some notable exceptions, but that is due to exclusivity or the fact that the vehicle was not available on the open market. Notably, many of these cars are not available in the U.S. market.

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