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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

Last updated on: July 09, 2014 14:29 IST

Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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There are numerous factors which affect one's decision of buying a car. It’s a tedious choice to make between the refinement of petrol engines and frugality of diesel.

The rising fuel prices have once again started giving rise to the debate of petrol versus diesel.

While petrol cars are usually cheaper than diesel, the latter offers better fuel economy and therefore brining down the running cost.

Here in this short comparison from the buyers’ perspective to make things easier. We have tried our best to include parameters that can help you narrow down on the choice.

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Image: Honda Amaze.
Photographs: Courtesy, Honda

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Car Cost

It would be fair to start this topic from pricing. It is quite easy to interpret the pricing of the petrol and diesel variants of the similar specifications.

Generally, the diesel variants are expensive with the difference often persisting around 1-lakh range.

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Image: Maruiti Swift.
Photographs: Courtesy, Maruti Suzuki

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Car Cost

For instance, latest Honda City was launched in both diesel and petrol variants. The base diesel variant was launched at Rs 851,000 (ex-showroom, New Delhi) while the base petrol variant was tagged at Rs 730,000 (ex-showroom, New Delhi).

Now, it’s obvious that the diesel powered car will give you better economy but in order to justify the higher price tag, the cost equalisation would take about one and a half year, mostly if you are driving close to 40 kilometers a day.

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Image: All-new Honda City.
Photographs: Courtesy, Honda

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Maintenance Cost

The second thing that creates troubles for the prospective diesel car devotee is high maintenance cost. The spare parts of diesel cars are slightly expensive than the petrol ones.

Undoubtedly, comparing to petrol powered cars, diesel cars are rough. But contemporary cars are capable to minimise the noise level right to some extent, so there is hardly any moment you will feel that you are sitting in a diesel powered car.

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Image: Hyundai Xcent.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Maintenance Cost

But that too depends on the servicing and maintenance. If you regularly service your car, you would never feel you are in an uncivilized vehicle.

Contrary to this, petrol cars are example of silence and refinement which makes driving a real pleasure.

But as per the maintenance cost, diesel ones will remain dearer but the margin is not big.

Let’s take a guesstimate example, the paid service of Maruti Swift petrol costs around Rs 5,300 for 24 months or 20,000 kilometres, while the same service charge for the diesel variant would costs around Rs 6,500, which is not huge.

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Image: Maruti Swift.
Photographs: Courtesy, Maruti Suzuki

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Driving and Handling

Thirdly, comparing the driving aspects of both is also very simple. Where diesel cars are known for offering better torque; cars with petrol engines moves more swiftly on roads due to excellent power in high revs.

But it is to be noted that the line of difference is very thin. In contrast to older days of diesel cars, now one can spend hours in the car in the stop-go traffic, irrespective of diesel or petrol.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Maintenance Cost

Diesel engines can be fruitful for longer journeys on the thoroughfares that result in better mileage and since they have plenty of torque, they don’t need revving up regularly. They are mostly favoured by professionals and office goers.

Petrol engines are the choice of masses due to their quick response and power delivery.

Choosing between depends what you want from your car, utter driving fun or a blend of fun and pragmatism.

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Image: Mahindra Scorpio.
Photographs: Courtesy, M&M

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Durability and Longevity

Diesel engines are often considered short-lived, means they are not capable of withstanding wear and tear. But this is not true.

Present day diesel engines are durable and remain as healthy as petrol ones as long as they are serviced on a regular basis.

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Image: Hyundai Verna.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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Durability and Longevity

According to automobile engineers, if the diesel cars are well-maintained, they can run up to 300,000 kilometres.

Other commercial vehicles like buses, trucks and mini-vans are excellent examples of the longevity of diesel powered vehicles that runs hundreds of kilometres every day.

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Image: Maruti Ertiga.
Photographs: Courtesy, Maruti Suzuki

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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So Which One to Buy?

Now that’s the crucial part of the discussion. Both the variants are co-equals when it comes to number of sales as they have their own specialties. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

While petrol cars are criticized for their fuel-gulping nature, diesel ones are notorious for being harsh and low in power.

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Image: Hyundai Grand i10.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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So Which One to Buy?

But at the end of the day what makes a real difference is what the car buyer ultimately picks up. If one is looking at the running cost factor, then considering diesel car would be a good option.

And to justify this, a monthly running of at least 1,200kms could be the best bet. If you frequently change your cars, then it’s a good option.

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Image: Mahindra XUV500.
Photographs: Courtesy, M&M

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Petrol or diesel: Which car should you buy?

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So Which One to Buy?

But let’s not hurry up making any decision. Although petrol engine cars won’t be light on your pocket, they are best in driving dynamics and won’t surprise you with a sudden burst as compared to turbo-diesel engines.

Present day petrol cars are using turbo-charging technology. This significant development has helped not just in churning more power but also in improving fuel efficiency.

Cars like Ford EcoSport, Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and Skoda Octavia TSI are such examples.

Also buying cost is less than diesel equivalents, which would be a better option if you are on a budget.

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Image: Ford EcoSport.
Photographs: Courtesy, Ford

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So Which One to Buy?

The future also seems to be in the state of dilemma as diesel prices are raising sporadically.

Recently petrol price was hiked by Rs 1.69 a litre and diesel by 50paise a litre. Now it costs Rs 73.58 a litre for petrol and Rs 57.84 a litre for diesel (prices, New Delhi).

So the real culprit remain common, that is, the fuel itself, which derails the overall sales growth.

So analyse your monthly commute, look at different cars under your budget and choose smartly.

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Image: Toyota innova.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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