Petrol vs Diesel

Our ‘Petrol or Diesel’ guide explains everything you need to know to help you choose the right car for you.

Published: 17th October 2016

Petrol vs diesel? It’s a question many motorists have asked themselves before buying their next car. Following the emissions scandal, knowing which way to go has become even more complicated.

ALA GAP Insurance has compiled our very own ‘Petrol or Diesel’ guide to give you the information you need to make an informed choice.

Diesel Advantages

Electric and hybrid cars may have become more prevalent, but petrol and diesel cars still dominate the car market. Traditionally, people preferred petrol cars because diesel engines had a reputation for being noisy and dirty compared to petrol engines. The VW Group diesel scandal may not have done anything to persuade the doubters, but diesel technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years.

Diesel cars may not be quite as clean as their petrol counterparts, but they do deliver more power at lower revs and offer more torque. Petrol cars may require a heavier foot, but modern petrol engines now come with a turbo which helps to narrow the gap in performance. Diesel engines also have the advantage if you regularly drive on the motorway or use your car to pull heavy loads. Again, as diesels require fewer revs to maintain a steady cruising speed, they are much more efficient on longer journeys.

Similarly, even though diesel cars are generally more expensive, if you’re able to drive them efficiently, that extra expense could be cancelled out. But those differences are only noticeable with high mileage driving over a period of many years.

Petrol Advantages

Fuel and running costs are two important factors to consider when buying a car. The British oil industry’s primary focus is petrol production; as a result UK diesel is noticeably higher than European prices. Petrol engines may be 30% less fuel efficient compared to diesel engines, but diesel running costs mean a petrol car could end up being cheaper to own.

Another determining factor is the diesel particulate filter (DPF). For drivers who regularly use the motorway these filters can work very well. For drivers who use their cars primarily for short journeys, they could find their driving habits may clog the DPF filter, which is not easy – or cheap – to fix.

Looking ahead, the government has said that it is considering changing Fuel Tax rates according to energy content. As diesel contains approximately 10% more energy than petrol, this could mean diesel becoming even more expensive in the future.

Whichever car you choose, it is important to remember when comparing manufacturer’s MPG figures, be it petrol or diesel, that those figures are obtained in laboratories. If you’re looking for fuel consumption figures be sure to base your decision on MPG based on real-world motoring. Honest John’s Real MPG provides accurate figures obtained on real roads by real drivers.

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Published: 17th October 2016
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