I need to replace my diesel SUV, what petrol model is best?

A reader is looking for a slim petrol-engined SUV to replace his diesel vehicle so he won't have to pay to drive in London's expanded low-emission zone...

What other charges do diesel car owners face?

I live in London and own a five-year-old Nissan X-Trail diesel, which I need to replace before the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) rules come into force next October.

I fear the war on diesel is only going to get worse, so I’m thinking of buying a slightly smaller petrol-engined SUV instead, but they seem pretty thin on the ground. Can you tell me which are the best models to consider?

The only other factor that will affect my choice is that I have a rather narrow garage. The X-Trail only just fits into it. 

Neil Collins

What Car? says…

Your X-Trail is a large SUV, and if you’re after something a bit smaller, we’d suggest a family SUV. The narrowness of your garage does rule out some of the family-sized SUVs we recommend, though. 

Your X-Trail is 2060mm wide including its mirrors, and our favourite family SUV the Range Rover Evoque is slightly wider at 2100mm. The Evoque is a great all-rounder with a comfortable ride, high quality interior and excellent resale values, but we prefer its diesel engines over the petrol options, so it may not be the best choice for you.

Skoda Karoq 2021 front cornering

However, there are two other Best Buy family SUVs, the Skoda Karoq and Volvo XC40. Both are slimmer than your X-Trail and both come with punchy and frugal petrol engines. 

The Karoq is 2025mm wide with its mirrors and its peppy, economical 1.5 TSI petrol engine is our pick of the range. It doesn’t have to be worked hard for good acceleration and it achieved a creditable 44.2mpg in our True MPG test.

We recommend SE L trim, which gives you all the essentials, such as all-round parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smart phone connectivity, plus heated front seats and three separate second-row seats that can be folded individually, as well as sliding backwards or forwards to improve luggage space or leg room. The Karoq 1.5 SE L costs £26,770, but that price drops to £25, 346 if you buy via whatcar.com at our Target Price discount

Volvo XC40 front

The XC40 is a previous What Car? Car of the Year, and it is 2034mm wide including mirrors. We recommend it with the T3 1.5 petrol engine; this is powerful, efficient and more affordable than the hybrid or electric versions of the car. Alternatively you could opt for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) XC40 if you do lots of short journeys. The T4 Recharge PHEV XC40 can do 27 miles on pure electric power. 

Although XC40s are pricier than the Karoq, with What Car?’s Target Price deals you can get a T3 in R Design spec for £30,001, which is £1994 off list price, or a T4 Recharge R Design for £36,829 – a £2301 saving. 

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