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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

December 06, 2013 10:09 IST

Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Routinely rising fuel prices have been a big problem for both the car buyers as well as the car sellers.

This time the sad news for the diesel car enthusiasts is that the diesel fuel prices have been raised again by 50 paise per litre.

Since January, this is the 11th time fuel retailers have increased diesel prices after the government allowed them to revise the prices so as to bring it at par with the market costs.

With petrol and diesel prices mounting up frequently, buyers are now confused with the selection of a right fuel type car for themselves.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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The petroleum minister’s announcement about deregulating diesel prices also suggests that the diesel prices will continue to rise in future as well.

Let us compare both petrol and diesel fuels on varied fronts to conclude their importance from buyers point of use.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Commuting needs and uses

Petrol cars though being high efficient in power can be used only for limited running as they deliver lesser fuel efficiency thereby leading to high running expenditure.

However, purchasing a diesel car is fruitful only if your running is above 50 kilometres daily or 1,500 kilometres monthly.

For commercial purpose too, the diesel in-lined vehicles are highly preferred.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Cost of the Vehicle

As far as the cost is concerned, the Petrol cars are comparatively cheaper than the diesel.

For example, the cost of Hyundai Verna Fluidic petrol 1.4 litre base variant is Rs 740,000 (ex-showroom Delhi), while the Verna Fluidic diesel 1.4 litre base variant costs Rs 122,000 more, and is available at a price tag of Rs. 862,000 (ex-showroom Delhi).

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Image: Hyundai Verna.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Depreciation Cost

Depreciation cost is the value that car loses in a particular span of time. Petrol cars are better performers compared to the diesel ones but even then the demand for second hand diesel cars in the domestic auto-market is more.

That is the reason why depreciation cost of petrol cars are more compared to the diesel ones.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Maintenance Cost

In comparison to the diesel cars, the petrol cars consume lesser cost of maintenance and hence they are pocket friendly.

The spare parts of diesel cars are comparatively more than those of the petrol, therefore their cost of maintenance goes up.

Let us look it this way - Maruti Swift Petrol’s fourth paid service for 24 months or 20,000 kilometres costs around Rs 5,300 approximately, however the service charge of Maruti Swift Diesel for the same tenure is around Rs 1.200 rupees more, and the owner needs to shell out about Rs 6,500.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Maruti Suzuki

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Engine life

Engine life in reference to petrol and diesel fuel types is one the most controversial debates.

Automotive experts have commented that diesel engines have a shorter life as they work on compression type ignition with the compression ratio also being high compared to the petrol engines.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Auto-engineers say that a well-maintained diesel engine can run well up to 300,000 kilometres.

Besides this, the biggest example of long life diesel engines are the trucks, mini-vans and buses that cover thousands of kilometres in a single day.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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Technology

Petrol engines are more efficient than the diesel ones in performance front as they can be operated at high revs due to their light weight parts.

Petrol engines have smaller compression ratios than the diesel engines and uses spark ignition rather than the compression ignition.

So, being silent and frugal petrol engines have been technically superior to the diesel power-trains.

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However, they have faced stiff challenge from the high-tech diesel mills that have incredible fuel efficiency and low NVH levels.

Being denser than the petrol, diesel holds 15% more energy and returns extra miles than the petrol fuel, and turbocharging of the diesel engines give outstanding results by boosting the performance.

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Photographs: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters
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Fun to drive element and power

Compared to the diesel in-lined cars, the petrol cars are more fun to drive as they churn more power at higher rpm levels.

Let us compare Maruti Swift Petrol Vxi and Maruti Swift Diesel Vdi. The Swift Vxi comes powered by an 1197cc K Series engine while the Swift Vdi is powered by a 1,248 cc DDiS diesel engine.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Maruti Suzuki

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Although, the cubic capacity of the diesel engine is more but the power output of petrol engine is high.

The Swift Vxi churns out peak power of 85.8bhp at 6000 rpm while the Swift Vdi produces peak power of 74bhp at 4000 rpm.

This is the case with all the cars that have petrol and diesel variants. However, the German automotive brands like Volkswagen and Skoda have been successful in generating the same level of power from petrol and diesel variants of a particular car.

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Photographs: Sourtesy, Volkswagen

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Conclusion

Both petrol and diesel engines have their own specialities due to which they have secured high number of sales. But if they possess advantages they have shortcomings too.

At one end the petrol motors have been criticised for consuming high fuel while on the other the diesel motors have also been condemned for being noisy and low powered.

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Diesel vs petrol: Which car to buy?

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But what mainly depend in the auto-industry are the buyer’s choice and his needs.

Future seems to be competitive between the two as diesel fuel prices are also mounting up slowly.

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Interestingly, the companies are looking forward to make the petrol engines more fuel efficient like the diesel ones.

The 1.0 Litre EcoBoost petrol engine of Ford EcoSport is a great example of petrol motors’ technical advancement.

There is no clear winner between petrol and diesel. The decision varies from model to model. However, diesel car makes sense if you have a daily running of 50 kilometres or 1,500 kilometres each day. So, do your research before you buy.

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Image: Ford EcoSport.
Photographs: Courtesy, Ford
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