We tend to think of the differences between a gasoline (Otto cycle) engine and a Diesel engine as using a different fuel and a different method of ignition -- but there is a deeper difference. In an (idealized) Otto cycle, the addition of heat is under constant volume (the compressed mixture burns mostly near TDC). In an (idealized) Diesel cycle, the heat addition is under constant pressure (the fuel burns during the down-stroke as fuel is injected). The net effect of this difference is that for a given peak pressure, the Diesel cycle can operate at a higher compression ratio, making it more efficient. This means that for a given peak pressure, a Diesel engine could operate at a higher compression ratio than a comparable Otto cycle even without the engine having a stronger construction. Typically though, because there isn't a problem with detonation because of the nature of the fuel and the constant pressure burning, Diesels can even kick it up another notch with even higher compression ratios and peak pressure, though it then requires stronger construction at that point.
Constant-pressure combustion (a la Diesel) requires a high-pressure injection system to overcome compression and combustion pressure -- another main difference with the Otto cycle which mixes fuel with air before compression or combustion.
Also, Diesel engines don't have a throttle, their air flow is fixed (for a given speed) and the power output is regulated by fuel flow only. This eliminates throttling losses which is another advantage of the Diesel.
So, taking an Otto cycle (spark ignition) engine and burning distillate instead of gasoline doesn't really give the engine any of the advantages of the diesel, so I'm not sure why they'd did that -- maybe there's some advantage in terms of fuel handling. Distillate has a higher density than gasoline, so can carry more energy for a given volume of fuel. It's less volatile than gasoline, maybe that's also an advantage in some way.