The VW emissions scandal did a fair amount of harm to the reputation of diesel vehicles, but in truth there are pros and cons to all fuel sources. You need to consider how you intend to use your car to make the correct choice for yourself, it could be the most important decision you make when picking your next vehicle. If you're struggling to decide which engine to go for read on, we've summarised the main points to evaluate to help you when choosing between petrol and diesel.
Diesel vehicles produce more small particulates which can be damaging to your health, however modern diesels have special Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) to remove them, so this shouldn't be too much of an issue if you're choosing a new car. However, it is worth bearing in mind that these filters can can become clogged if you tend to do more city driving, they perform much better with a good mix of motorway travel in there too, so if that isn't you it could be wise to avoid diesel.
When it comes to emissions, petrol cars tend to produce more carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to climate change, on the other hand diesels spurt out more nitrogen dioxide which can be responsbile for smog and respiratory problems. So whichever fuel you burn will of course unfortunately have a detrimental impact on the environment. Another point to note is that some modern diesels use a chemical called Ad Blue to filter out the nitrogen dioxide so that it leaves the exhaust as nitrogen and water vapour, therefore lessening pollution. The Ad Blue goes in to a separate tank from the diesel and needs topping up every couple of thousand miles.
On the road
Petrol engines tend to be quicker off the mark and deliver faster 0-60mph times whereas diesels have more torque and so will accelerate faster in higher gears, making things like motorway overtaking easier. Many people have preconceptions about their preferred fuel but the truth is developments of engines over the past 5 – 10 years have seen the two fuels move much closer together in their performance. New petrol engines are becoming more efficient and capable of producing the same torque as diesel engines, similarly turbo diesel engines are often able to provide petrol-style performance.
Diesel engines have a reputation for being noisier and less smooth although, as with some other points on this list, this is much less true with modern cars. If you haven't tried driving a more recently built diesel you might just be surprised. Similarly you can still expect petrol engines to generally be quieter but the gap between the two is shrinking all the time. When it comes to the fuel itself remember diesel is smellier than petrol and can be difficult to get off your hands if you get them dirty when refueling.
Purchase price and depreciation
Generally speaking, diesel cars are more expensive to buy or lease, but this is not always the case and it pays to do your own research on the models you're interested in. There are concerns that second hand values may drop off in the coming yearrs as appetite for diesel cars is dampened by potentially punative taxes but of course when you lease a vehicle this risk is borne by the funder so there's no need to worry.
Diesel tends to be a couple of pence more per litre at the pump but will generally get a few extra miles per gallon. Unfortunately it can be difficult to calculate the actual mpg you'll achieve in the real world as it depends on the routes you take and your driving style, however it's worth having a go at calculating how much you think you'd spend on fuel and then comparing the two.
Tax and insurance
Previously, road tax on vehicles varied more widely and it was possible to save money by choosing some cleaner diesels, however since April 2017 most cars will pay a flat £140 each year after the initial year. Remember when you lease a car from Leasing Options this is included in your monthly rental and so already factored in - Simple!
When it comes to insurance you may find that insurance premiums are lower for the diesel, it's always worth checking and comparing the vehicles you're interested in.