Choos­ing be­tween petrol or diesel en­gine

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

CHOOS­ING be­tween petrol or diesel is one of the first things a new car buyer should fig­ure out be­fore ex­plor­ing spec, or even the type of ve­hi­cle they want to buy.

Petrol or Diesel? Not that long ago that would have been a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion with the an­swer be­ing, well, un­less you were a farmer, petrol. Even as lit­tle as 10 years ago the de­fault choice for all new cars was petrol.

But with im­prove­ments in tech­nol­ogy, the ques­tion of what type of fuel you should choose is be­com­ing harder. And a lot more com­pli­cated.

With the ar­rival of clever diese­lengined mod­els, main­stream mo­torists be­gan to dis­cover what 4WD own­ers had known for a long time, that if you wanted ef­fi­ciency and grunt you went for a diesel. Sim­ple. These new, cleaner diesels didn’t smoke like the diesel ve­hi­cles of old, they weren’t rat­tly or coarse at idle, and petrol sta­tions around the coun­try be­gan putting diesel pumps onto the main fore­court.

Diesel cars be­gan to grow in pop­u­lar­ity, but in re­cent years the tech­nol­ogy for both diesel and petrol en­gines has be­come even more so­phis­ti­cated and so the is­sue of whether you buy a petrol or diesel isn’t so clear cut as it might have been. In­deed, the ar­gu­ment that diesel cars are more ef­fi­cient and that petrol cars are more fun to drive isn’t al­ways true.

When it comes down to it, though, there are re­ally only three key fac­tors you need to con­sider when choos­ing be­tween petrol and diesel. And these are: Econ­omy; Run­ning Costs; and Your Gut.

Econ­omy: Not so long ago diesel prices were at a pre­mium when com­pared with petrol but, at the time of writ­ing, diesel is cheaper than petrol. Choos­ing based on the dol­lars and cents of a tank of fuel right now would, how­ever, be a waste of time as the price will no doubt swing back depend­ing on tax- es and pro­duc­tion.

While many car mak­ers make a big deal of their diesel model’s low fuel con­sump­tion it’s worth bear­ing in mind that those fig­ures are recorded in a lab­o­ra­tory and not in the real world. That said, you can, how­ever, ac­cu­rately com­pare a petrol and a diesel car to­gether on fuel con­sump­tion as long as you un­der­stand that it’s un­likely you’ll achieve the same fig­ure listed in the brochure. See, your fuel con­sump­tion will be heav­ily in­flu­enced by where you live and what sort of driv­ing you do: in­ner-city and only driv­ing short dis­tances; in the sub­urbs and stuck in stop-start traf­fic driv­ing to work; or you might live in the coun­try or just out of town and have a long, clear com­mute to and from work.

The other thing to con­sider, although it doesn’t re­ally fall un­der econ­omy, but while a diesel-pow­ered car might be, say, po­ten­tially 10-15 per­cent more fuel ef­fi­cient than its petrol-pow­ered sib­ling (the US Depart­ment of Trans­port claims 30-35 per­cent more ef­fi­cient) it might also work out more ex­pen­sive to own over a few years due to ser­vic­ing costs be­ing slightly higher for diesel ve­hi­cles.

Run­ning Costs: When choos­ing be­tween a petrol- and diesel-pow- ered ve­hi­cle you’ll no­tice the price will gen­er­ally be higher for a diesel model, although that pre­mium gen­er­ally re­duces the big­ger and more ex­pen­sive the ve­hi­cles are that are be­ing com­pared. So, if the diesel car you’re look­ing at is, say, M20 000 more than its petrol-pow­ered equiv­a­lent you’ve got to weigh up whether you’ll re­coup that “pre­mium” in fuel saved over the life of the ve­hi­cle in your pos­ses­sion.

If you don’t think you will, then you’re best off go­ing for the petrol. In short, the shorter the dis­tances you travel the less likely a diesel is to be of any ben­e­fit to you, the longer the dis­tances you drive then the like­li­hood of re­coup­ing your ‘pre­mium’ is greater. Do you fol­low?

More than that, the diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter can be­come clogged if you only ever drive short dis­tances with­out ever ‘ stretch­ing your cars legs’ on a longer, semi-reg­u­lar high­way run. The other con­sid­er­a­tion is that diesel cars tend to hold their value a lit­tle bet­ter than their petrol equiv­a­lent, so, while you might spend less on your petrol car, you might make less come re­sale.

Your Gut: If you think diesel cars are big, smelly, smoke-belch­ing brutes then it’s time to think again. Im­prove­ments in en­gine tech­nol­ogy and the fact diesels are more pop­u­lar than petrol mod­els in Europe which means that man­u­fac­tur­ers are fo­cussing plenty of their de­vel­op­ment bud­gets on diesels means they’re clean, quiet and grun­tier than their petrol equiv­a­lent.

That said, while good diesel en­gines are gen­er­ally more ef­fi­cient (over dis­tance) the line be­tween petrol and diesel is be­ing blurred as com­pa­nies start pro­duc­ing diesel en­gines with petrol-es­que re­sponse and petrol en­gines with diese­lesque low­down grunt. In gen­eral, though, diesel en­gines tend to pro­duce more torque (the shove to get you go­ing) than their petrol equiv­a­lent and pro­duce that peak torque ear­lier in the rev range too mak­ing them feel, depend­ing on the ve­hi­cle of course, a lot quicker than their petrol-pow­ered sib­ling. And, mod­ern au­to­matic trans­mis­sions tend to get the very best from a diesel en­gine, mean­ing they can feel ev­ery bit as smooth and re­fined as a petrol en­gine.

Whether a diesel can do the same for you will de­pend on weigh­ing up all the pros and cons. — Prac­ti­cal­mo­tor­ing

CHOOS­ING based on the mal­o­tis of a tank of fuel would be a waste of time as the price will swing back depend­ing on taxes and pro­duc­tion.

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