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An array of diesel and petrol cars to choose from

Petrol or diesel cars: which is best for you?

When considering getting a new car, one of the fundamental decisions you’ll need to make is whether to opt for a petrol or diesel car. Both fuel types have advantages and disadvantages, and your decision can significantly impact your driving experience, running costs, and environmental footprint. To help you make an informed choice, let’s delve deeper into the key factors to consider when deciding between diesel and petrol cars. ¹

Performance and driving experience

One primary consideration for many car buyers is diesel and petrol vehicles’ performance and driving experience. Traditionally, petrol cars have been favoured for their smooth acceleration and responsive driving dynamics. Petrol engines deliver power faster, making them ideal for city driving and shorter journeys where frequent acceleration and deceleration are standard. ¹

Conversely, diesel engines are known for their torque-rich power delivery, particularly at lower engine speeds. This means diesel cars often feel more robust and capable when towing heavy loads or driving on highways. Additionally, diesel engines typically provide better fuel efficiency on long journeys, making them a preferred choice for drivers covering extensive distances regularly. ¹

Emissions and environmental impacts

Recently, there has been growing concern about diesel vehicles’ environmental impact due to their higher emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter. While advancements in diesel engine technology have led to significant reductions in emissions, petrol cars generally produce fewer harmful pollutants, particularly in urban areas where air quality is a significant concern. ¹

Furthermore, the increasing focus on reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change has prompted many governments to incentivise the adoption of petrol-electric hybrid and electric vehicles. While diesel and petrol cars contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, the transition towards greener alternatives is accelerating, with electric cars emerging as a viable option for environmentally conscious consumers. ¹

Running costs and maintenance

Another crucial consideration when choosing between diesel and petrol cars is the associated running costs and maintenance expenses. Historically, diesel fuel has been cheaper than petrol in many regions, making diesel cars more cost-effective, especially for high-mileage drivers. However, fuel price fluctuations and taxation policy changes can influence the relative cost of diesel and petrol over time. ¹

In terms of maintenance, diesel engines are generally known for their durability and longevity, requiring fewer routine services than petrol engines. However, diesel vehicles may incur higher repair costs for components such as fuel injectors and particulate filters. On the other hand, petrol engines are typically simpler in design and may be cheaper to maintain, although they may require more frequent servicing intervals. ¹

Resale value and market trends

The resale value of a car can significantly impact the total cost of ownership over the vehicle’s lifespan. While diesel cars have historically retained their value well, recent regulatory changes and shifting consumer preferences have led to uncertainty surrounding the future demand for diesel vehicles. As a result, petrol cars may offer a more stable resale value in specific markets, particularly in regions where diesel bans or restrictions are being implemented. ¹

Moreover, market trends indicate a growing preference for petrol, hybrid, and electric vehicles, driven by technological advancements, environmental awareness, and government initiatives to promote cleaner transportation. As the automotive industry evolves towards electrification, petrol cars may become increasingly sought after, particularly among buyers reluctant to invest in diesel technology amidst environmental concerns. ¹

Choosing between a diesel and petrol car involves weighing several factors, including performance, emissions, running costs, and market trends. While diesel cars offer superior fuel efficiency and torque for long-distance driving, petrol cars excel in urban environments and may have a lower environmental impact. Ultimately, the decision depends on your driving needs, budget, and environmental priorities. With careful consideration and research, you can select the right vehicle that aligns with your preferences and values in today’s evolving automotive landscape. ¹


The article aims to provide South African motorists with information on whether petrol or diesel cars are better. Are you ready to buy car insurance now? Consider getting car insurance with Prime, which offers unique benefits. So, get a quote for affordable Comprehensive car insurance with Prime, featuring fixed premiums*, reducing excess*, and top-tier service. T’s and C’s apply. Please get professional financial advice from a certified financial advisor to ensure you select the appropriate financial services product.



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