What Car Q&A October 2009 - Diesel or petrol?
Q) I need a seven-seat MPV, and have decided to buy a new Ford S-Max. I do 5000 miles a year and plan to keep the car for about eight years. I know the petrol versions are cheaper to buy, but the diesels use less fuel and are cheaper to tax – which engine should I go for?
A) Petrol cars are usually a better choice for low mileage drivers, but because you plan to keep the S-Max for eight years, we'd recommend the 2.0 TDCi diesel version.
True, the 2.0 petrol is £1850 cheaper to buy, but (based on current prices) you'll more than make the extra cost back in fuel and tax savings over the next eight years. You'll also get more cash back when you sell, because diesel versions of the S-Max hold their value better, too.
An even cheaper option would be the 1.8-litre diesel, but we'd advise forking out a bit extra for the 2.0-litre version. It's much smoother and more refined, and not a lot less economical.