What Car Q&A January 2009 - Petrol or diesel?

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Petrol or diesel?
I want to buy a brand new Fiesta (preferably the five-door Zetec). I do up to 11,000 miles a year and am looking to keep the car for around five years, but I don’t know whether to go for 1.4-litre petrol or the 1.6-litre diesel. Which would be more cost-effective, and which would offer the best performance.

Diesel superminis don’t often make sense. Because of the hefty price premium they command over similar-powered petrol engines, and the relatively low mileage covered by most owners, petrol superminis usually work out cheaper in the long run. However, because you plan to keep the car for quite a long time the diesel will probably make most financial sense in this instance.

Based on current petrol and diesel prices, you’d have to do nearly 77,000 miles to make back the extra £920 (after discounts) the diesel version should cost to buy. That would take you almost seven years (two year longer than you plan to keep the car).
However, because you’ll spend £85 less on road tax every year and because the car will be worth more when you sell, the diesel should work out several hundred pounds cheaper over the five years.

What’s more, the diesel has the edge on performance. It’s only 0.3 seconds quicker than the petrol to 62mph, but has bags more low-down pulling power, so getting the best from the engine will require a lot less effort.

What Car Q&A January 2009 - Economy drive


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