People who design cars are normally easy to spot. They can often be seen tearing their hair out, sobbing uncontrollably, and aimlessly pondering the meaning of existence. These tortured souls have been forced into this state because consumers expect too much. We demand that our vehicles are styled like super models, handle like racing cars, and last long enough to become family heirlooms. Many drivers also want something that is devastatingly fast but costs less to run than a sewing machine. Impossible! Or is it?

Let's consider the BMW 1 Series 123d M Sport. This Ford Focus sized vehicle has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. This produces 204bhp which propels the baby BMW to 62mph in 6.9 seconds. This eye-watering performance is remarkable when you consider the 123d M Sport returns 43.5mpg on the urban cycle, 62.4mpg on the extra-urban, and a combined average of 54.3mpg. This penny-pinching fuel consumption means its carbon emissions are low, so this particular BMW is kinder to the environment than a Greenpeace manifesto.

The Volkswagen Golf 2.0-litre TDI 170PS is another diesel 'hot hatch' with furious performance and an instinctive aversion to gas guzzling. It hits 62mph in 8.1 seconds and returns a combined average of 53.3mpg. This rises to 65.7mpg on the extra-urban cycle. This minimal consumption complements the Golf's sure-footed handling, pin sharp steering, comfortable ride, and silky smooth transmissions. There is even enough interior space to transport four adults in absolute comfort.

These Germanic vehicles are proof that consumers can have it all. Both are robustly constructed and great to drive, and the frugal diesel engines provide more power than most drivers need. The BMW 1 Series 123d M Sport starts at £25,995 and the Golf 2.0-litre TDI 170PS requires an 'under the mattress' withdrawal of £23,610. Perhaps now those long suffering car designers can rest more easily.