Variety is the spice of life, which is why you get different fuel types like petrol and diesel, as well as the different grades of each fuel. You may have found yourself mulling over the decision to purchase a diesel or petrol variant of that vehicle you've been eying for the last couple of months. Let's talk about the benefits each and hopefully, by the end of this, you'll have a clearer answer.
Globally, fuel prices have reached an all-time high in recent times, owing to the war between Russia and Ukraine. In addition to this, our fuel is already heavily taxed so we end up paying a lot more for fuel than our neighbouring countries. In South Africa, however, the price of petrol is regulated by the government, while the price of diesel has for a long time remained unregulated. This means petrol will always be sold for the same price wherever you choose to fill up, while the price of diesel may vary slightly depending on the filling station. A lot of diesel car owners prefer to use a specific filling station because they sell diesel at a reduced price per litre.
Power & Torque
With a difference in flammability, petrol and diesel cars have unique performance characteristics. For starters, if buying a petrol car you can get away with buying a none-turbo car because petrol is more combustible and will still offer you reasonable performance. On the flip side, a diesel vehicle is almost always turbocharged because diesel burns at a slower rate than petrol, which affects its performance. Turbocharged petrol cars are a lot zippier than diesel when moving from a standstill because they have more power (kW).
Conversely, where a diesel vehicle may not be as zippy it makes up for that with torque. If you enjoy the feeling of being able to accelerate and gain instant shove at any speed, you'll enjoy driving a diesel car. The feeling of pulling power when accelerating in a diesel vehicle is because of what's referred to as torque. This is the engines pulling power and is great to have if you're going to be towing or hauling heavy loads too.
One of the biggest selling points for diesel cars, aside from their intoxicating torque is their fuel range. Where diesel trumps petrol for most consumers is that you can get far more mileage from your litres in a diesel car. With a slow burn rate, diesel vehicles are renowned for being economical and averaging impressively low fuel consumption figures. Pound-for-pound, a 2l petrol engine's fuel consumption will be a lot higher than that of an equivalent diesel variant. The best diesel engines will give you the best of both worlds – great fuel economy and impressive performance when needed.
In part two of this article, we'll discuss the difference in maintenance costs of a diesel and petrol car.
Gugu Masuku - Proudly ATM