The great petrol or diesel car debate...
This has baffled and confused car buyers for many years – especially now with mixed messages form the government relating to air quality, often produced by older vehicles.
Choosing a diesel car still remains the obvious choice for some drivers depending on a number of practical factors – not just personal preference. Annual mileage and daily driving style are both important factors.
So what should you choose?
Our in-depth guide examines the performance and driving style of both engines, along with the many cost and environmental factors associated with them to help you make the right choice.
Performance and driving
How do they differ in performance?
Traditionally petrol is usually seen as a smoother drive with a sharper response and eagerness to rev. Later plate petrol engines are incredibly economical – more so than many diesel engines produced over last few years..
Whilst diesels have better torque (pulling power), which makes a more relaxing drive. Later plate Diesel cars are now particularly quiet as opposed to the older noisy variants.
The clattering, noisy diesels of old are long gone. Its often hard to tell if the car is actually a petrol or diesel derivative.
Due to technological advances in modern turbo-charged petrol engines, a smaller sized 1.0 petrol engine may now produce the same BHP and performance of the older 1.6/1.8 and 2.0 variants from the past with reduced emissions which in turn offer you a lower tax band and class.
Do you use your car for motorway driving or rural roads?
Diesels are great on motorways, where their plentiful torque allows for swift overtaking.
Furthermore, motorway driving will tend to rack up the miles more than anywhere else meaning you’re better off with a diesel which will often return a better MPG.
On the other hand, driving on rural A- and B-roads, will better suit a livelier petrol engine, which will likely offer a more rewarding driving experience and will be more suitable for quick acceleration when overtaking slower vehicles like tractors especially in rural Lincolnshire where we are based
Do you more commonly drive long or short journeys?
Diesel particulate filters (DPFs) represent a complicated topic but, the fact remains they are a legal requirement on all diesel cars registered since 2009, meaning it cannot be ignored and adds crucial weight to whether or not you should buy a diesel car.
Historically only a very small percentage have ever caused issues and have often been remedied with an inexpensive re-generation (a clearing of the exhaust) with immediate results.
The long and short of the issue is, you must regularly run a diesel engine for between 30 and 50 minutes to allow the exhaust temperature to increase enough to cleanly ‘burn off’ the excess soot in the filter and clear it – motorway driving is ideal for this.
Meaning for shorter journeys like to and from the shops, driving about town or if you have a shorter or slower-paced commute, a petrol engine will be more suitable.
Diesel is also better for longer journeys because of its on-average increased fuel economy.
Country or city driving?
It seems increasingly likely many major cities and towns will begin to use legislation to discourage diesel cars from entering them; daily charges may form part of this legislation.
It is likely, however, that Euro 6 diesels (diesels typically (but not exclusively) registered from 1 September 2015) will be exempt from near-future charges, like they have been from the London T-charge, which came in October 2017. This has not been confirmed though.
If most of your driving is in a city, think twice about opting for diesel. Stop-start traffic can clog diesel particulate filters (DPFs), leading to a potentially big bill for replacement.
Older diesel engines emit higher quantities of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and microscopic particulates, which linger in the air and cause respiratory problems – a particular issue in cities, where air quality is considerably worse than in the countryside.
Also, if most of your driving is done in the country then the torque of a diesel is ideal for steep hills and tough terrain, including driving through mud or snow. Diesel engines also suit larger, heavier vehicles, such as 4x4s, which excel in such conditions.
It's not possible to provide a definitive verdict on the petrol or diesel debate, as the decision is down to the driver and how they use their vehicle.
However, we hope the advice we have given throughout this article will help you make an informed decision.
It is important to look at all of the criteria above and carefully consider what your driving needs are and how you are going to use your vehicle before making your purchase.
While the air quality debate is well worth factoring in, it is still advisable to weigh up all of your options, looking at all of the above factors without any preconceptions of what you should drive, before you choose to buy.
As a general rule of thumb, when buying small, mid-size cars or sports cars most people opt for a petrol engine, and when buying large cars and SUVs most people opt for a diesel as each engine is generally speaking better suited to these types of cars.
It is more important than ever to carefully consider the type of driving you do and get expert advice before making a choice.
Here at IJC we can advise you based upon your needs not ours.
There’s no correct answer here and on positive note – we stock both variants. You can try as many cars and variants as you wish then decide for yourself when you feel ready!
To book a free petrol or a diesel car demonstration please call 01507 605359