Petrol versus diesel - a quick debate

Petrol versus diesel - a quick debate

The days of diesel cars being thought of as clattery old tractors are long gone, as car manufacturers’ boffins have worked relentlessly to make them as refined, and sporty, as their petrol counterparts. You only need to think of the mighty V12 diesel engines that Audi uses in its R8 Le Mans supercar and Q7 SUV, to see that diesel means business these days. The recently launched Maserati Ghibli is available as a diesel, which would have been unheard of years ago, and firms like Porsche have gone to great lengths to make their diesel engines sound more like traditional petrol V8s.

Miles per gallon

With hybrid and electric cars still in the minority, diesel is still generally the more economical option, on average delivering around 30% better mpg figures. Diesel engines also typically produce more torque, giving them much more grunt from low down in the rev range, requiring less gear changes and often proving more forgiving to drive. By way of a quick comparison, a 1.6 petrol Vauxhall Astra SRi produces 115bhp; 155NM of torque and on paper delivers 44.8mpg, whilst the 1.6 diesel produces 136bhp, 320NM of torque and does a claimed 72.4mpg. The retail price of the diesel model is roughly £2,750 more, though, reinforcing the general fact that they are usually more expensive to buy.


At the pump, petrol is cheaper than diesel here in the UK, but buyers really need to assess their expected annual mileage, as it can take anywhere from two to several years to recoup the higher initial purchase cost of a diesel vehicle. Motorists really need to drive 15,000 miles or more per year for a diesel car to make financial sense in terms of fuel, as they’re also generally more expensive to service, along with concerns over DPF filters potentially resulting in sizeable bills down the line.

Low-mileage motorists who mainly stick to town driving may well be better off buying one of the latest breed of fun, small capacity, turbocharged, petrol cars that have paraded onto the market in recent years. Diminutive 3-cylinder petrol engines found in cars like the Fiat 500 or Ford Focus EcoBoost can prove impressively economical – although they do tend to call for high revs and lots of gear changing, to get the best out of them.

Insurance premiums and road tax

Insurance premiums for diesel cars are often found to be slightly higher, although not by much, whilst road tax is usually lower. Another important factor to consider is resale, diesel cars tend to hold their value better.

Making your choice

It’s worth reading journalists’ reviews and checking online data to see how real-life mpg figures compare. Test driving various petrol and diesel cars yourself is also beneficial. When browsing the vast stock of used and nearly new cars for sale at our Cardiff, Doncaster, Northampton, Norwich, and Swindon locations you’ll have the choice of up to 1,000 cars per store, both diesel and petrol. Our friendly and helpful staff will also be on hand to guide you through all stages of the buying process. With that in mind, we’ve investigated which models are our top sellers for both diesel and petrol. They are:


·         VW Golf Diesel Hatchback

·         Ford Fiesta Diesel Hatchback

·         BMW 3 Series Diesel Saloon

·         Insignia Diesel Hatchback

·         Audi A3 Diesel Sportback


·         Citroen C1 Hatchback

·         Ford Fiesta Hatchback

·         Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Special Editions

·         Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback

·         Ford Focus Hatchback


We hope this guide will help you decide whether a petrol or diesel car will be more suitable for your driving style, annual mileage and budget.

  • On: 29 September 2014
  • By: CarShop

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