by John Cadogan

Petrol versus diesel is the kind of issue motoring enthusiasts argue about endlessly. Let’s look at how it plays out in practise for Kia Sportage SUV owners. However, the comparison is broadly applicable to other SUV (and car) buyers as well.

Kia Sportage petrol Vs diesel – not a clear-cut choice based on dollars alone

When many people compare petrol engines with diesels, they often think in terms of the ‘payback’ or ‘break even’ period. That is, the attempt to resolve the choice is made solely in terms of the distance one needs to drive the vehicle (all other things being equal) until the cost saving resulting from the diesel’s greater fuel efficiency negates the price premium originally paid for the diesel powertrain.

For most new vehicle buyers this is a fiscally flawed way of looking at the issue – however, just for kicks, I just did it to see how it panned out on a Kia Sportage Platinum. When you compare the Kia Sportage Platinum 2.4 petrol with the 2.0 CRDi diesel, the payback period works out to be an incredible 177,000km, or about 12 years of average Australian driving. That’s four-and-a-quarter-ish laps of planet earth, subject to finding a suitable circumferential road and doing nothing for 12 years other than driving laps of it. It begs an obvious question: why would anyone be dumb enough to buy the diesel? (That’s the sole question the ‘payback period’ modellers pose, anyway.) Meanwhile, back on earth, the issue is more complex than that.

Diesel has hung up its outdated image. These days it’s often the ‘performance’ option in a model range

The Kia Sportage’s ‘break-even period’ modelling involves a few assumptions. I used $1.35 as the price of 91 RON ULP and $1.43 for the diesel, per litre, though that would fluctuate and probably trend substantially upwards over the time you owned the Kia Sportage. (It was independently reported as the prevailing price of the fuels in Sydney on the day of writing.) I also used the official combined cycle fuel numbers as reference points, even though actual fuel consumption would probably vary depending on a range of factors, such as driving style, load and environment. Even so, at least the official combined cycle fuel numbers are the result of laboratory-standardised tests that make relative comparisons (if not absolute ones) easy.

It remains an interesting, understandable proposition: Why buy a diesel if you’re going to have to hang onto the vehicle until it’s basically tired-to-worn-out for the ownership economics to tip mildly in your favour?

Although diesel is more expensive, the engine’s greater efficiency eventually yields cost savings

I recently advised a caller on Radio 2UE to consider buying a particular Subaru Forester diesel SUV, which I thought would suit them after some discussion about a range of usage factors, and within minutes another caller had rung in to contest that advice, using the whole ‘not economically rational,’ ‘break-even point’ argument. It’s a position many people take on this issue. Unfortunately, it stops plenty of people who really should buy a diesel vehicle from buying one, and it’s largely irrelevant.

There’s a $3000 price premium for the Sportage diesel. It’s $35,990 for the 2.4 petrol SLX and $38,990 for the 2.0 CRDi (RRP/MLP). Most, but not all, diesels are $2000-$3000 more expensive than their petrol counterparts. The engines are somewhat more complex than comparable run-of-the-mill petrol engines, with turbochargers and 200-atmosphere fuel rails, higher cylinder pressures, precisely machined injectors, etc. Modern diesels develop more torque (and consequentially require higher-spec drivelines) and perhaps the R&D cost of integration into particular platforms is amortised over a smaller total production volume, yielding a higher asking price.

Above: An example of perhaps embracing Diesel over-enthusiastically

The first reason you might actually prefer the diesel – despite paying the big bucks for it – is simply its superior performance, and greater practicality. The 2.4 petrol in the Sportage makes peak outputs of 130kW @ 6000rpm and 227Nm @ 4000rpm. The diesel makes 135kW @ 4000rpm and 392Nm from 1800-2500rpm. So the diesel is basically line-ball on power but offers a massive 73 per cent torque upgrade. And those lower revs for the peak torque production make for effortless performance in traffic, during ordinary driving, and when towing. It would be impossible to spend $3000 in the aftermarket industry and reliably boost the performance of the 2.4 petrol engine to the same level – and even if you could it would void the warranty.

Often, people think nothing of optioning a better petrol engine in a two-engine lineup – at a premium of several thousand dollars. The better engine invariably offers substantially worse fuel economy in exchange for superior performance. And that often seems like a pretty good deal. The diesel is even better, offering better performance while drinking less juice.

Fuel range is a major factor in remote area travel. Diesels offer reduced CO2 emissions, too, but often emit other, more detrimental exhaust particles

Practicality: The Sportage diesel’s official combined cycle fuel consumption is 7.5 litres per 100km. The 2.4 petrol drinks 9.2 litres per 100 km to the same standard. Using those numbers as a benchmark, the Sportage’s 55-litre tank will take you about 600km with a petrol driveline and about 760km in a diesel. The diesel confers something of an advantage for long-distance travel – especially at night, where fewer servos might be open in regional backwaters. But it is also a plus in the city – where you’ll get to visit a servo five fewer times per year, on average, in the diesel. (I guess how big an advantage this really is depends on you, and how deeply the notion of queuing for that two-for-one Kit-Kat deal of the century appeals…)

That’s the practicalities. When it comes to the economics of ownership, however, most people who buy a new Sportage won’t pay in cash and hang onto the vehicle for 12 years until – or beyond – until the payback period for the diesel powertrain has elapsed. Most people who buy any new vehicle back up and buy another one in three to five years. Because they can.

Diesel’s extra touring range will come in handy if the servo you stop at looks like this, and the next one is 100km away

So let’s look at the petrol V diesel ownership economics a different way, in light of that general ownership experience. Let’s assume you finance the vehicle at a fixed 12 per cent and finance $35,990 for the petrol or $38,990 for the diesel. Let’s assume you pay the on-roads in cash, just to take that variability out of the equation. Let’s assume you finance the vehicle for five years at 12 per cent, with a conservative 20 per cent residual payment at the end.

If you do all that, repayments will be $705.39 monthly for the petrol and $764.19 for the diesel. At the end of the five years the total payments will amount to $42,323.40 for the petrol and $45,851.40 for the diesel. So the finance company will manage to extract about $3500 more from the diesel owner’s pocket – but remember this is mitigated to an extent by the saving in fuel, and the diesel’s higher probable resale price.

Fuel? Assuming the fuel prices above, the fuel bill for 15,000km per year times five years is going to be $9315 (petrol) and $8045 (diesel). Here, the diesel owner saves $1270.

You’ll see this view (above) five times less often annually in the diesel Kia Sportage than in the petrol

After five years, the Kia warranty runs out, you make your balloon (residual) payment, and then sell the vehicle. Let’s assume you sell it privately, which will generally yield you more cash than trading it in. Comparing a similar vehicle, the Hyundai Santa Fe, on leads to the conclusion that the Sportage’s resale value (for private sale) will be about 50 per cent of the vehicle’s RRP after five years, with little if any difference in percentage between petrol and diesel variants. Both powertrains lose about 50 per cent of their new RRPs at five years of age. (Comparable data for five-year-old Sportages isn’t relevant, as there was apparently no diesel back then.) Therefore, you could list your used Sportage on and shortly thereafter pocket $18k (petrol) or $19,500 (diesel) in cold, hard cash.

Interestingly, the diesel owner gets half his original $3000 price premium back in resale, a fact the ‘break-even point’ analysts rarely pause to consider.

Sadly, diesels generally cost more to service. So let’s also factor in $1000 for a servicing premium on diesels over the five years of ownership – assuming an average $100 more to service the diesel, per service, twice a year, every six months for five years.

Above: a major objection to diesel, typically among women, is the often-filthy pump nozzle and the lingering odour ‘eau de diesel’ that becomes ingrained in your hands as a result

When you whip all those numbers into a spreadsheet, here’s the difference in ownership cost, over five years: The petrol is the winner, but only by $2360.00. That’s about $470 annually, or $9 a week – or $1.30 per day. Slightly more than the cost of the newspaper. Three regular-sized lattes a week. A moderately decent bottle of wine a fortnight. A super-sized Mc-Somecrap meal a week. You get the point. For people who can afford a new vehicle, the extra cost of the diesel powertrain is trivial. It’s not like we’re talking the poverty line here.

Above: Are you prepared to ‘shell’ out more for diesel? (Sorry)

And it’s not as if there aren’t direct benefits to the diesel ownership experience. If you invested that price premium in a diesel Sportage, over five years you effectively bought yourself 25 fewer stops at a service station, and you had access to 73 per cent more torque whenever you needed it – a serious performance and practicality upgrade considering the price.

Overall, despite the slightly higher cost, diesel seems to deliver a pretty good return on investment.

What do you think: The petrol or the diesel?

  • Homer

    $9 extra a week for the far superior diesel drive train & it’s a no brainer.

    • talk then think

      While the $9 a week sounds genuinely low at the moment, I remember reading that diesel is rising (price wise) faster then petrol is. Taking this into consideration diesel will become more expensive in the future.

      Also the $9 a week argument is strange and is meant to manipulate peoples ideas. If you tell some-one its going to cost $1.30 a day they wont mind, but if you say $2360 it will have a different affect.

      Interesting article but not as clear cut as it should be as an article could be drafted about petrol being superior at this point in time. In the end I don’t care which petrol (even nuclear) but these engines wont be around for much longer which is a bit of a shame.

      • CarlMc

        that reminds me of the black woman who said to the Southern white woman,I’ll work for 1 dollar for the first day, 2 dollar the second day,3 dollar the third day.

        The dopey (read greedy white southern trash)got her to sign an agreement,thinking she had a slave that would work for peanuts.

        By the end of the month, the black woman owned the Estate and had the white trash Southener scrubbing the floors.
        The Lady took the black woman to Court and lost, because of the agreement signed, and by the end of month,

        millions of dollars were owed.

        • Jimmy32

          Your a bizzare human being

  • Dan

    Diesels stink! I hate following a diesel car, the fumes can be unbearable. It also makes the rear of the car very dirty, if it is not washed often enough. Give me a more powerful petrol any day!

    • Model T

      You probably wouldn’t know if you followed a modern diesel. They have particulate filters that capture all the nasties and the actual emissions are comparatively low. I drive a modern diesel and will never go back to petrol – the low-end torque makes it a lot more driveable and better performing than equivalent petrol cars. Highway cruising and towing is quiet and effortless. My only gripe is the greasy high flow bowser, but nothing a pair of gloves can’t fix when re-fueling.

      • Dan

        I’ve seen a current shape C class spit out black smoke when accelerating, also the back of it was covered in soot. And that is a modern engine…

        • Ray of Bris

          What’s the bet that the owner drives it around on 5 minute trips most of the time? These diesels have VERY low emissions because they have a particulate filter that is self-cleaning. In order to have it burn off the particles, it needs to reach a certain operating temperature, usually when the engine reaches normal operating temperature. If you let the DPF get clogged, you will see it “spit out black smoke”.

          • Dave S

            Agree with you Dan. I have seen too many modern diesels being followed by a brief cloud of black smoke. Only an extra 9 dollars a week, you get increased fuel cost, expensive servicing, dirtier fuel, and you sound like a tractor at idle – awesome.

            I will pass thanks.

    • Nath746

      Only if you’re following my ’97 Rodeo, or other diesel vehicle of similar vintage. New Diesels are very clean and don’t smell any where near as much as the old ones.

    • Jonathan Leong

      I agree. The other day I went to Audi showroom, he started up a 3.0 TDI Q7 inside the showroom, and the whole place stinks.

      • Damian

        Have you ever tried starting your Camry in your garage with the doors closed?

    • Dave S

      Lets not forget, most diesels still sounds like tractors – hardly a performance option.

      • Maple leaf

        True, my Jetta diesel is still noisy whatever anyone may say. In a luxury car, it seriously affects refinement.

        • Trickster

          It depends on which 2.0 TD VW motor your Jetta has.

          If it’s the 103kw version it runs the older injection system, rattles like a tractor and puts out black smoke.

          However if you have the 125kw version with the new injection system and DPF, it hardly rattles and has no smoke

          I’ve got a Skoda Octavia RS TDi which has the 125kw VW diesel motor and it doesn’t smoke or smell on startup. You’ll fine most TD motors are heading this way.

      • Tomas79

        Geez, so many late sipping metrosexual princesses….
        I love the sound of a diesel engine, and only pity that the engine in my diesel 4×4 is too quiet.

        • A-Train

          hit. nail. head.

    • Big Mouse72

      A more powerful petrol? I think in this instance the diesel has more power. Read the specs or better yet drive test drive both. You obviously have never driven a new gen diesel.

  • MattP

    Interesting article. In larger vehicles the diesel is an excellent option. Last year I bought a Hyundai iMax turbodiesel and this large van is brilliant with the diesel. Even with eight people and luggage on board, it will happily and effortlessly cruise at 110 km/h without any engine noise. Cannot say the same for our previous Toyota van which was petrol and always seemed to be working so hard and drinking lots of petrol.

  • svd

    “Most, but not all, diesels are $2000-$3000 more expensive than their petrol counterparts. The engines are somewhat more complex than comparable run-of-the-mill petrol engines, with turbochargers and 200-atmosphere fuel rails, higher cylinder pressures, precisely machined injectors, etc.” Not for long with more Direct injection Petrol engines on offer.

    “Sadly, diesels generally cost more to service.” What? I don’t see how this figures. Diesels on average last 3 times longer than Petrol engines given the same operating conditions. The general expenditure is fuel filters and guess what injected Petrol engines have them too. How about injector cleaning? Many dealers will try to talk hapless victims into having an un-necessary injector clean on both Petrol and Diesel engines at nearly every service. Have had this experience at a well known Toyota dealer in Sydney. I have a Hyundai i30 Diesel and the pleasure of driving it has not been offset by any extra expenditure for servicing and cannot see why this would be so. Maybe the turbocharger in a few years time but then again I could have bought a Golf TSI with both a supercharger and a turbocharger to be serviced in nn? years. When I worked for a heavy machinery company where the majority of engines were turbocharged Diesels, they went for thousands of hours before the turbocharger needed servicing and in fact in those days the most likely thing to cause the premature failure was stopping the engine immediately after heavy work, starving the still spinning turbine of lubrication.

    • Tom

      Yes, you make a good point about longevity. I was always under the impression that diesels last longer, as they have much stronger blocks to cope with the higher compression ratio, and the compression ignition system simply means there is less to go wrong. Worth keeping in mind if you want to run the car into the ground. Can you elaborate on this, John?

      • Starky

        I have a Landrover Freelander Diesel which has 24k service intervals. Services are around the $400 mark. I am not sure of the service costs for the petrol equivalent – but I am not complaining.

  • Andrew of Melbourne

    To John, was the fourth photo in this story really appropriate to be using in this story? Not only does it not have any real relevance to the story other than the word, the caption under it is really inappropriate especially to write ‘an example of embracing Diesel over-enthusiastically’. I hope this is not attempting to approve of the possible sexual connotations being displayed which I think it might be. Please remove this photograph or I may have to consider finding some avenues to explore.

    • John Cadogan


      To your points, in order: Was it appropriate? Yes – it was a major print advertising campaign, so it passes all relevant tests for appropriateness. Diesel is a reputable, multi-national, prestige brand, and the intention of this ad is certainly not to be taken literally or to endorse depraved behaviour.

      Its use in this context is called ‘humour’. I’m sincerely sorry, however, if you are truly offended – that’s not the intention. I don’t know what ‘possible sexual connotations’ you’re talking about. (I’m not sure that whipping tic-tac-toes on someone’s back is actually sexual – if it is, I sort of wished I’d hung around for that lecture in high school personal development class.) That’s a joke, too, before you take it literally. It’s not an endorsement or otherwise; it’s a joke. I think on balance most people find this stuff funny.

      The photo is staying. We’d prefer you to keep up your patronage of CarAdvice, but you are of course free to explore other information/entertainment avenues at any time. Once again it’s not our intention to be offensive (the internet is already brimming with truly offensive content, to which we try not to add), however it’s impossible to keep every visitor totally happy.

      Kind regards.


      John Cadogan

      • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

        I would like to know how they made the whips do a zero?…tricky

      • Handsome Al

        I think Andrew is the guy in the photograph.. and He did not enjoy that photo session…. Don’t worry John.. I think he is also joking about his complaint.. Seriously.. someone get offended by that picture???

      • Dan

        You know, the ad in question is for Diesel, not diesel. I.e. a clothing company, not fuel company.

    • FrugalOne

      What rubbish

      Its a pity your to stupid to know that Diesel is a Italian brand of jean and associated wear

      Your type most likely think that the carbon tax is a great idea too?

      • Homer

        Andrew you must be a hoot at parties!

    • Matty B

      If they remove this photo because of you being offended, then I’ll be offended.

    • noMOAR!

      Bye Andrew!

    • Dave

      ” Please remove this photograph or I may have to consider finding some avenues to explore.”

      Geez. Get a life buddy! Some hot looking babes should get you hooting, not whingeing for goodness sake. This isn’t the ALP national conference on political correctness – just real life.

    • Sumpguard

      -52 ( at time of posting). The chicks and the whips stay. If they were in Ford ad I doubt you’d raise an eyebrow Andrew.

      P.S the one on the right is the winner. She has 3 crosses in a row 😉

    • amlohac

      You Sir are exactly what is wrong with this world. Take your politcal correctness and jam it right up your arse.

      Seriously, get over yourself you pretencious stuck up boring wanker.

      John, keep up the good work. As someone who works in the automotive industry for a european brand that sells amazing diesel engines this article should go a long way to showing people both sides of the story.

    • Big Mouse72

      Obviously not into hot women Andrew? Cars and hot women are always welcome. Maybe you should look up a Jeep Wrangler site and post comments. You most probably won’t be offended there.

  • Harry


  • K20A

    Good Diesel evangelism Cadogs!

    I have also been doing the same for years in my workplace, with friends, family, etc. I’ve even created a Diesel vs Petrol breakeven / resale / fuel economy spreadsheet for my uncle when he was about the get a LC200. He did, in the end, got the superb V8 Diesel Sahara.

    Forgetting all the dollars and cents, like you’ve also said, I simply chose Diesel for its performance and driving feel. Unless it’s a modern, small displacement force fed engines a la VW Group’s TSI or Ford’s EcoBoost, choosing a Diesel over Petrol is a no brainer. Back to the LC200 example, the Diesel comes with more power, torque, one more forward gear even!

    Case closed, Columbo!

  • AndyGF

    I drive diesels because I like the way the feel, they drive like much bigger petrol engined cars when you are just doing the daily routine. They definitely are not peaky and therefore are more fun when you are not TRYING to have fun (which for 99% of the world is all the time), and these days just as fast as their non-diesel counterparts when you are actually having fun?
    And if you do more than 15,000km per year, plus a few extra holidays, that everyday enjoyment and effortlessness pays for itself…

  • FrugalOne

    The thing is the Hyundai/Kia has a antique ULP engine, modern Euro petrol engines like FIAT and VW are doing “downsizing” with MORE power that a 2L yet fuel use very close to DIEsel.

    In any case best best and lowest $/km would still be LPG, a galaxy gap between them

  • FrugalOne

    Photo #3

    I see FSM 650 Niki’s x2 [had one on loan for 6 months, was errrr fun….]

    Must be a BP clone from Poland?

    • MattP

      That BP photo is in Poland. Witamy = Welcome in Polish.

  • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

    Any truth to diesel engines having more durability and longer life?

    • JEKYL & HYDE

      not if they have toyota diesel injectors(lol)….

    • AR

      If you’re referring to the 1980’s Hiluxes, then yes. But not with the current crop of new age electronics, high tech, light weight, aluminium, complicated turbo diesels with mega pressure zero tolerance injector pressure.

  • Jerrycan

    A very good article on a topical subject.
    To pick up on several points in other comments:
    Smoke – Modern Diesels don’t produce as much smoke as they used to but not all modern diesels have particulate filters (eg Hyundai diesels). The pros and cons of these would be an article in itself.
    Performance – Go by the stopwatch and there is little difference between the petrol and performance options. However the (non-turboed)petrol has to be revved for maximum torque whereas the diesel occurs at very low revs.
    This better suites most town and country driving, and towing and usually achieves much better economy.
    Cost of Servicing – Really difficult to get good figures but Hyundai seem to be just as expensive as Volkswagen equivalents, especially spare parts. I was stunned when a colleague told me how cheap the servicing costs were on his brand new Diesel Frod Territory compared to my diesel Hyundai Santa Fe R.
    Economy – In my experience it is much easier to meet or better economy claims with a diesel than petrol (especially Hyundai, Kia claims, especially with autos, I have had both).

    The diesel that really interests me the Mazda SkyActive. If what we read is right then this is a real diesel breakthrough in economy, emissions and driveability.

    Oh and didn’t get the relevance of the bondage photos either

    • Jerrycan

      Sorry should have said “petrol and diesel options” and I just saw the girls are wearing Diesel brand Jeans. Still a bit obtuse though

      • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

        I think the reduction in smoke (diesel) is more to do with better use of fuel IE common rail fuel injection systems. The smoke was un used fuel.

        • John Cadogan


          My understanding is that really precise injector control means that there are several separate injections of fuel during each combustion event (five, I think). These are obviously very quick events. The precise injection timing and volume does things like control noise, oxides of nitrogen and visible smoke.

          Particle filters are mainly for harmful, carcinogenic particles, which are microscopic.

          One of the problems with urban-only diesel driving is that it can clog the catalyzing particle filter before it can regenerate (which requires mainly highway running for a short but significant time). When that happens the engine goes into ‘limp home’ mode and the filter needs to be regenerated at the dealership (obviously not a problem for the vehicles lacking a catalyzing particle filter).

          Thanks, Jerrycan and Salesman for your positive contributions to the discussion here.


          John Cadogan

    • AndyGF

      And fuel quality… 50ppm Diesels and the like are far cleaner than diesels used to be.

    • svd

      A very good reason for modern CRDI diesels not emitting smoke is that the fuel quantity per cylinder cycle can be reduced when volumetric efficiency falls off with increasing rpm unlike older diesels which reached a maximum and stayed there for the remainder of the rev range. Diesels do not rev as high because the fall off in volumetric efficiency means that there would be insufficient compression pressure to ignite the fuel. To increase the rev range they add forced induction eg turbocharger or supercharger but mostly turbocharger.


    small wonder kia got john to post up the comparison,kia’s diesel is so popular there’s like a six month wait for so it’s petrol cousins.says it all really…

    • John Cadogan


      Kia didn’t get us to post anything. My decision to use the Sportage as an example was pretty arbitrary, and I chose it only because it illustrated pretty well the points I wanted to make. I didn’t look into supply because it wasn’t relevant to the story.


      John Cadogan

      • Troll No. 47

        I think supply is totally relevent to the story John, particularly at the moment, because Kia dealers are charging customers up the rear passage on diesel Sportages simply because they can under the fabled “supply and demand” mantra.

  • Jonno Smith

    Petrol vs Diesel (vs Hybrid vs LPG)
    Just my 2 cents worth:
    1. Diesel is great if you’re averaging 40/60 urban/country driving. The fuel savings over urban (stop & go) driving is not very significant over the petrol engine. In addition, diesel cost about 10-15% higher than ULP. If you’re driving 70% urban areas, better to stick with a petrol engine car with 4 cylinders and small capacity (below 2L). I don’t think the diesel is really worth it if it’s used strictly for urban areas.

    2. Diesel engines are accoustically louder and harsher (hence unrefined) than petrol engines. If you’ve drive next to a diesel vehicle, it is really loud! Diesel refuelling is very, very messy. In urban servos, the pump handle is often coated with oily diesel residues (watch out, ladies). When driving in the country, the country servos locate the diesel pumps away from the petrol pump area, usually located in the heavy vehicle parking areas. There, the ground is slick and messy with diesel overfill. After filling, your shoes are coated with a slick & sticky substances.

    3. Depreciation hits all types of cars including diesel & petrol. Best period for owning a car is from 1 year old to below 4 years old. The 1st 12-18 months would have given you a 20% depreciation/discount when buying a 1-1.5 yr old car; the car is still under warranty & pretty new. A 3 year ownership period would give the owner a trouble-free motoring (except for lemons which are manufacturer based). Sell it before a major due servicing (costing about $1k or more) or before warranty expires. By doing this, you would get about 50%-60% of your car’s value back.

    4. Hybrid is the way to go if you’re looking for fuel economy in urban driving. Costs of buying a hybrid is coming down. Honda Insight is quite affordable for most people. If plug-in option becomes a reality, the electric power unit can be expanded and then the diesel becomes unnecessary.

    5. LPG is still the choice for tradies and fleet operators like cab companies. LPG fuelled cars tend to deposit black & oily residues overnight. I had a neighbour who had 3-4 LPG vehicles parked in their driveway. He was renting the place. After his lease expired, he vacated. The owner intended to sell the place but found no takers when they saw the black oil patches on the driveway. Even after cleaning, they are still visible. If you owned a beautiful house, I don’t think you would want a LPG vehicle in your driveway!


    • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

      Wow, that’s allot of information for just 2 cents Jonno. You are kidding right? Diesel fuel burns much slower than petrol and is not 10 to 15% more expensive.
      Modern diesels can be very refined and as quiet as a petrol.
      Diesel refueling is messy? I am not sure how you do it Jonno but i usually put the nosel in the tank.

      • AndyGF

        Hehe @ nozzel in the tank!
        The only reason the filler at the petrol pumps is so shiny clean is because the ‘filler lady’ comes around for all the petrol lovers out there, and polis… NO! NO… No Im joking!
        Its because gasoline/petrol is a very powerful solvent and highly carcinogenic, and while you are busy filling up, you are breathing in a dose of life destroying fumes!

      • Homer

        Salesman you got my vote! Also note diesels are accoustically louder, that’s misspelt tautology I think.

    • lozzam

      Jonno when did you last drive or refuel a diesel? I have a Mondeo TDCI with 95k on the clock and it consistently sits on 6.8 litres /100k when using caltex vortex which is available both city and country servos on the forecourt not away in the back blocks I never have any issues with pumps either, the vortex diesel ( premium) for 2 cents a litre extra has given me a range increase of 110km out of a tank and as far as performance goes if you didn’t hear the rattle at idle once under way the low down torque ( more than 3litre commodore v6 ) 340nm at 1700 RPM really does make driving a pleasure so with performance & economy how does the petrol Mondeo rate, rather poorly actually when I test drove both prior to buying and relability has been fantastic much better than the BF that this car replaced and it is almost on a par size wise also with a boot that shames most other cars, no wonder Ford doesn’t promote this car heavily as Falcon sales would go further south if people were aware how good Mondeo is

    • MattW

      “diesel cost about 10-15% higher than ULP”. Diesel was a couple of cents cheaper than ULP when I stopped at a servo at the start of the week

  • Tom

    John, I think it is also useful to note the kind of driving being done. On the highway, diesels tend to make their most significant gains in economy – that is why diesels are used in almost all constant load applications, such as industrial machinery. Around town, it becomes closer. Hence, if you are doing a significant number of highway kilometres, consider a diesel more closely.

    Also, most European cars require premium fuel – the Golf TSI 118 is supposed to run on 98 octane. 95/98 octane is generally as expensive, if not more so, than diesel, hence the price savings evaporate.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      This point you make about the difference between diesels and petrols WRT economy in city driving being closer is an interesting one. I have always found/thought it to be the exact opposite.
      Think about it. A diesel has all of it’s torque down low, so when you accelerate away from the lights you only have to use a little bit of throttle to “keep up” with the traffic etc. With an N/A petrol, you have to open the throttle even more to get the engine to it’s “sweet spot” for the same/similar performance (usually at twice the RPM of the diesel). Around town a diesel would rarely get above 2000-2500rpm with the associated fuel consumption effect this low rpm driving would have. Staying below this rpm in a run of the mill N/A petrol would have 50cc mopeds leaving you in their dust.
      I have an example from the real world for you. Having once been a member of a BMW car club, I will use a couple of member’s E53 X5s as an example. One was the V8 petrol and the other was the turbo diesel. On a highway cruise at the speed limit the diesel X5 was getting just under 8L/100km, the V8 was around 11L/100km. Around the city (Brisbane), the diesel was around 12-13L/100km, the V8 was 24L/100km+…

  • nickdl

    The petrol Sportage is a slug.

  • me-all-day

    There is only one drawback that seriously affects my diesel experience. Turbo lag.
    If they can solve this problem and boost torque to substantial levels immediately above idle – perfect.
    This is the biggest bugbear with diesels in the city. When the lights go green you want instant motion, not c’mon turbo! Spool up now!
    Apart from that problem (which I find seriously frustrating) I would never choose a petrol engine with all the other advantages the diesel offers.

    • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

      Electronic Variable Geometry Turbo or E.G.V.T has fixed turbo lag significantly. Try a modern diesel. You will be surprised.

      • me-all-day

        I have an ’09 125KW Passat Diesel. I know TOO well what I am talking about. The turbo lag is a major blemish in an otherwise perfect car!

  • davie

    One issue with Diesels is the particulate filter (DPF). These clog up and need to be cleaned out via an extended period of high intensity engine running (eg a highway trip)

    If there is not enough highway running (eg lots of short trips), the engine computer initiates a “ReGen” of the filter by increasing the richness of the fuel ratio to create a “hot burn”

    Some subaru Forester forums mention that this regen process has a detrimental effect on the engine and causes shuddering and oil dilution.

    • wbj

      Detrimental effect on the Subaru Forester diesel engine? I think you are mistaken. If the DPF isn’t regenerated and overloads then the engine will go into limp mode. However this can all be avoided with a 30 minute highway drive if the warning light comes on. That’s something which most owners can live with.

      The shudder from a regen is almost imperceptible although the reduction in engine performance is noticeable during the regen. There has been a shudder problem with some Subaru diesels which appears to be a programming problem and appears to be close to being resolved. Oil dilution is usually not an issue – it is a system artifact from numerous incomplete regens.

      At the end of the day the fun and driveablility of a modern turbo diesel outweighs the minor inconveniences.

  • pugphile

    You pay more to buy a diesel and you will get more back when you sell it later on.
    Meanwhile you enjoy the benefits that a diesel engine gives in terms of driving and economy

  • andyc

    20 years of driving petrol powered cars has finally given way to a new modern diesel powered car.

    Unlikely I would ever go back.

    I just love the way the diesel drives – lot of torque, quiet and half the trips to the servo than my previous Commodore demanded.

  • Pres

    I run 2 cars, both of which do approx 45k per year. I is a ford 4.0 litre six and averages 11litres per hundred.. the other is a Land Rover Freelander diesel.. which averages 7.5 litres per hundred. The land is cheaper to service than the ford…and things don’t keep breaking. Its also much nicer to drive ESP when loaded…even tho both develop ~400nm.. oh the dirty fuel pumps for diesel…thing of the past. The fuel companies have learnt their lesson and keep them quite clean..

  • laurie

    Correct me if I am wrong but having owned a Mondeo TDCi for 3 years now I noticed how well it performers even in the hot summer months.I was always told diesels preform better in cold climates hence the popularity of diesels in Europe but I can idle the diesel in traffic and the temp gauge hardly moves but my fuel consumption is better in winter and it seems to have more torque

    • Tim Johnston

      Diesel is cheaper than ULP in Europe, that’s why they’re more popular than here.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      It has nothing to do with the engine water temperature gauge laurie. It is the air temperature and hence density that they are meaning. This is the same for any “boosted” engine petrol or diesel. The cooler the air, the denser the charge and therefore more power/torque produced and in some cases improved fuel economy due to “bigger bang for your buck”.

  • Andrew M

    How about comparing the drivability of a decent petrol engine versus its equivalent diesel.

    Or take it one step further in discussing whether Ford needs to act on critisism and put a Diesel in its Falcon.

    I would say Diesel gets shot down against a decent petrol option.

    Compare a diesel option against a model with a 6cyl option.

    • Andrew M

      Take a top 5 selling vehicle like the Hilux…

      5K more to purchase, and similar torque, less power

    • AndyGF

      No way jose! Efficient little petrol engines permanently need you to ring their necks just to get a move on! Always playing with the gears as if you were stirring a pot.

      I agree the turbo diesels in the old days were terrible off boost, but they fixed that with a host of technology! I drove an old VW Polo TDI 1.9 (78kw version) a long time ago, I hated it, bit old tech and horrible off boost. But VW’s new 98kw-120kw diesels are fantastic, and BMW’s 2.0 (single or twin turbo) diesels are even better still!

      The only thing that comes close to driving a decent 4 cylinder modern diesel, is a BIG V6, even then lacks the character the turbo gives it! And then you must be happy to pay twice as much in fuel bills…

      • Andrew M

        I said forget the outdated little petrol engines.

        Im saying compare a decent petrol engine that doesnt need its t i t s revved off to get it to move.

        a BIG 6cyl doesnt cost twice as much to fuel, quite often they use as much fuel as the under powered 4cyl models which in itself is only a few litres off of a diesel version

        • AndyGF

          Dont kid yourself Andrew…

          IS350, as example modern fuel efficient direct injection V6;
          > you have to rev it to 4800rpm all day to get that 390nm of torque they claim.
          > change gear at 4800rpm every time, you will never get the 9.4 l/100km combined cycle they claim either (not even close).
          > most non direct injection V6s are lucky to get 11 l/100km, so this is one of the best examples.

          BMW 320d
          > gives you the full 380nm of torque from 1750rpm and up.
          > making it even that much more effortless to drive vs a 3.5 litre V6.
          > all while delivering 4.8l/100km in the combined cycle! (near as makes no difference – half the fuel consumption!)
          > and the BMW 320d is not the most fuel efficient, if that’s what you are after, try Audi A4 TDI.

          No comparison! 3.5 V6 < 2.0 Diesel!

          And you will find the modern little japanese petrol engines feel less gutless than the old ones did, making not only their vastly inadequate power outputs feel exponentially worse, but the peaky nature frustrating you every day you drive, like itch you cant scratch.

          • Andrew M

            We could give examples back and forth all day, but you are kidding yourself comparine between brands.
            The 320d isnt a variant of the IS350.

            That IS350 V6 isnt the most efficient nor most powerful example either

            Also dont forget the Diesel has a turbo, you could square the ledger by putting boost on the IS350 but noone ever considers that

          • AndyGF

            Are you sure you are not supporting diesels here?

            You originally said “diesel gets shot down against a decent petrol option”, are you suggesting Lexus would have to turbo their IS350 to ‘square the ledger’ with a 320d?
            Even I think thats pushing it, but you made my point; Litre for litre (you can take that as displacement or litres/100km), you cant beat the diesel option…

  • Sumpguard

    We couldn’t be happier with our platinum diesel sportage. The most common thing that people ignore when comparing the price of the vehicles new is the resale price.

    Everytime I plant the right foot I am reminded of why I made a great choice. Hill climbs are simple and highway economy is superb.

    For me it really was a n easy choice.

  • Glen

    Our 2009 Golf 2.0L TDI has more torque than a basic Commodore (320Nm vs 290Nm) and uses only 4.5 L/100km on a trip with 4 adults on board. It uses 7.1 L/100km when towing an Avan Aliner. I put paper towel around the nozzle when refuelling. It has a particle filter, all diesels should have them.

  • Richard

    I think the decision is alot harder if the petrol engine that is used for comparison is a turbo.

    Take the Tiguan:

    Base engine is a 2L turbo petrol : 125kw, 280nm 1700-4200rpm
    Diesel is 103kw, 320Nm 1720-2500 rpm

    The mid range urge of both these vehicles would be comparable.

    • wbj

      But the consumption differences for the Tiguan models (6.5 l/100km vs 8.8 l/100km) is larger than for the Kia Sportage (7.5 vs 9.2). So, comparable mid range urge and even more fuel savings. How does that make the decision a lot harder?

  • Kim

    I’ve been driving a 2007 Mazda 3 Diesel now for 3 years …

    Driving wise, I can’t fault it – amazing torque at low revs, suits country driving and also city driving (but more of this later …), efficient engine (around 6-7L/100km city average) – the best part however is the RANGE of the fuel tank when you’re doing long distances, as John Cardogan points out. This single factor of a modern diesel (RANGE), is often overlooked. I really enjoy the fact that when I’m driving to the snow, I don’t have to plan too much for a refuel, and I also enjoy only filling up every 10-12 days in the city.

    Noise wise, it’s OK – definitely noisier (gruff) than the petrol, but once you’re moving it’s just as quiet as the petrol. Not an issue too if you listen to music in the car like I do.

    Servicing wise, it’s a little dearer in servicing costs (extra fuel filter replacements every 20k km).

    However …. this diesel having a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), unlike Hyundai’s i30, but like almost all the Euro diesel engines eg. Mondeo Citroen Renault, brings with it the fuel dilution issue … there’s not enough space to explain the DPF fuel dilution issue here, but in short diesel fuel ends up in the engine oil over a period due to “incomplete DPF regeneration”; this problem is massively exacerbated if you’re doing stop-start driving ie. in the city. There have been many cases of the engine oil increasing over the X mark of the dipstick (not helped by unsuspecting owners not checking the engine oil level regularly), leading to the engine running uncontrollably on its own diesel/engine oil and imploding. It then becomes a grey area whose fault is it – poor manufacturer design, or owner’s responsibility to check the engine oil?

    The thing is therefore, every DPF-equipped diesel owner needs to keep an eye on the increasing engine oil level due to fuel dilution.

    This DPF is therefore also not just a mechanical filter, but a very intrincate complex unit that’s integrated into the engine’s ECM … if it stops working, the engine will stop. The biggest unknown about the DPF is how long will it last? 100k km? 200k km? I spoke with a diesel specialist recently and he said that the DPF being new technology (4 years in Aust), there haven’t been enough cars with high km’s to gauge how reliable they are. These DPF units are expensive – typically $5k to $10k if something goes wrong.

    I’m just counting on the DPF to perform flawlessly Japanese-reliability style so long as I take good care of it … I have been advised that the critical thing in terms of helping the DPF last, is PROPER ENGINE OIL ie. the LOW ASH diesel engine oil ones (you can find them at auto stores between $80-$100).

    Personally for me too, I NEVER chase diesel fuel prices as it’s a false economy in the scheme of overall car running costs – I’ve always stuck with BP diesel, firstly just to remove another variable in investigations if something goes wrong, but also because I’m generally happy with most BP bowsers being relatively clean. Others prefer Caltex … I think it’s just important you stick to one brand, for peace of mind.

    As to “diesel v petrol” – I agree with the editor and others on this forum – it’s a simple case of costs vs benefits, not just a case of cost alone … yes it does cost more to run a diesel, but hey how often do you hear harbour-front mansion owners lamenting their higher maintenance or capital costs? :)

    So in summary, this is coming from a DPF-equipped diesel owner – it’s worth getting a diesel if:

    – you’re not solely doing city driving (otherwise the fuel dilution issue will mean you’ll need to change engine oil more regularly – you happy to do that?)

    – you enjoy driveability of the torque at low revs

    – you find it very convenient to have a long driving range of 800-900km outside metro areas

    – you’re happy enough to cross your fingers that the manufacturers have tested their DPF’s enough to last a long time … :) …. I reckon you stand a good chance, so long as you use the correct engine oil and stick to a regular brand of the same quality diesel fuel ….

  • garyc

    If only Kia could supply my Kia Sportage Platinum Diesel. Ordered on 10 Jan of this year. Not a good look Mr Kia. Anyway the reason I choose the diesel was the torque for towing, fuel economy, and expected better resale.

    • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

      Some of my orders are now up to 12 months old.

  • Mick

    Diesel price is more consistent than petrol price. In Adelaide here, the price of petrol varies by up to 20 cents a week. Going by how good the Australian dollar is, and the value of oil, we should be paying much less than $1.48+ I saw earlier in the week compared to the $1.30 just a few days before. In other words, instead of getting ripped off a couple of days in the week, why not get ripped off all the time and go diesel instead? Actually diesel is quite repsectively priced today in comparison to unleaded…

    • D V P

      I Agree with the above

      The calculations made in the article are now well and truely out of date. Perhaps the pay back would be 100k instead of 177k

      The price for unleaded this week was $1.55 and diesel was $1.42

      I would think that changes the calculation a bit??

      One thing I find is as soon as you load a petrol vehicle be it internal with gear or a trailer it drinks.
      You may start at 9 l per 100 km but add a few 100kgs of gear (perhaps several) and you are headed toward 13l per 100km
      But with a diesel vehicle Load them up with a trailer and your consumsionstays the same.

      This should be taken into consideration.

      If you drive a petrol car with just the driver in it for the life you will might get the sticker mileage.

      But load them up and the consumsion goes up

      Diesel Load them up and the consumsion stays the same with newer types anyway.

      (I tow a lot and having to fill up twice as much when the trailer is on the back is a bit much. Bring on the diesel next week!!!)

  • Peter Stone

    If it had a 1.8 or 2.0 turbo petrol then the outcome would be much clearer…. Petrol.

  • Joe

    The only diesel engine I will considered with be the twin turbo V12 6.0L engine in the audi Q7……

    now THAT’S a diesel engine =p

    Kia??? what’s that?

    • Dave

      ” Kia??? what’s that?”

      One most can afford – as opposed to the Audi you can’t!

      • Pete


        surely most can afford the Kia but that doesn’t change that fact it’s a crap car

        cheap/affordable doesn’t mean they are good

        in fact in the world of automotive and electronics, you get what you pay for

        you are right, most ppl can’t afford to pay $200k for the audi V12 Q7, hell I never said I can afford it

        but damn that’s a nice engine

  • Andrew

    I ride my $150 bike the 5k’s to work and save heaps in running costs and depreciation. Leave the 99 MX5 in the garage for the weekends.

    I don’t understand why some people feel the need to spend $45k including finance on a car that will be worth half that in 5 years (even if it is in “cold hard cash”. Why not buy a 2 year old commodore and keep your cold hard cash in the bank. No wonder people fret about cost of living pressures!

    • Jim

      Everyone should by a 1 Bedroom house to save on mortgage costs too, or better still, just rent forever, keep that money in the bank and don’t do anything to enjoy life.

  • Bogan King

    We are currently looking far a small suv/cross over. We hadn’t considered a diesel at all until we went to the Kia yard to look at a Sportage. They didn’t have a petrol to test drive so we took the diesel. Well to say I was amazed is an understatement. I expected a clunky farm truck with no power. What I drove is a responsively quiet beast. I now am totally reevaluating all the cars we have looked at and seeing if a diesel is in the line-up. I’m no expert, I just drive, but these new diesels seem to be OK. I guess I’ll find out if we get one.

    • Homer

      You are officially relieved of the title “Bogan”. Welcome to the new world of Australian motoring.

  • judge

    Makes the new Mercedes C Class 250 diesel a very attractive proposition doesn’t it. 500nm of torque for the same price as the petrol 250.

  • John of Perth

    I run an Xtrail with the 2l diesel/manual and my wife the SantaFe also diesel/auto. I’m not sure if John mentioned the emission requirements on the latest diesels. The Xtrail requires at least 15 mins at over 80km/hr to initiate the particulate filter regeneration cycle – the Santafe (old diesel not the R engine) does not have any similar requirement.

    Strangely enough the Xtrail throws more smoke out the back doing longer trips (perhaps the manual gearbox is a factor) but the SantaFe that does the school and shopping runs doesn’t. As they say – go figure.

    Either way both vehicles pull like trains and given that I bought them for at least 10yrs of ownership, I would recommend diesel over the petrol. Both have been offroad – deep sand and the low down torque of the diesel is exceptional.

    Another small point – here in WA in the middle of hot summers, the diesels love being run/idled with the aircon on, without risk of overheating.

  • svd

    Diesels also run cooler. More fuel is put into crankshaft torque due to higher compression. If you could measure the exhaust temperature you would find this is lower in a diesel. Many people also have a misconception that diesel engines are built stronger because of the higher compression. They do have a higher compression but the pressure generated on the compression stroke is well below that developed on the power stroke and also well below what a petrol engine would develop on the power stroke. The reason that a diesel engine is built stronger is the violent explosion on ignition of the fuel. Why because all of the fuel available in the cylinder at the time of injection ignites throughout the combustion chamber unlike a petrol engine which is ignited by the sparkplug at some point in the combustion chamber and then has a flame front which radiates from this point. It is this violent ignition in the dieselthat causes the distinctive knock of a diesel. The resultant pressure on the power stroke which with full fuel delivery is also why a diesel is built stronger. The diesel is very economical because being assured of ignition can run a very lean mixture when not loaded and on the overun can have the fuel switched off completely. If you run a petrol engine too lean the charge may not get ignited or the fuel particles may be so sparse that it takes a long time to burn resulting in burnt valves and overheated exhaust. There are some petrol engine where they turn the fuel off on the overun but this is done carefully over a limited engine rev range eg Holden Vectra V6 between 80 and 50 kph.

    • Karl

      Information was very interesting. Thanks.

  • Garry O

    we have a Golf Bluemotion 3 months old and have put a Tunit, on it
    2 weeks ago.What a diffrence no Turbo Lag this car is quick.
    now has 92Kw & 297Nm and revs to 5600.The car still gets
    5Lt/100 up 1 from before but well worth it.

  • Ken

    You might not recover your costs overall purchasing Diesel over Petrol but driving my Platinum Sorento up the F3 yesterday to the Central Coast I enjoyed the lazy drive that 2.2 Litre R Series engine gives. Holding 6th gear at 2000rpm doing 110km/h up every hill it was asked without a problem. It made me laugh at all those little 4 cylinder hatches that pass me on the right lane driving above the limit while i’m on cruise control doing 110 and once a hill approaches you see them all slow down. I move to the right lane and pass them holding 110 in 6th without a problem. All the time averaging 6.6L/100 in a 2 tonne 7 seater. Diesel all the way for the torque and better economy. Part of the initial outlay will be recovered when selling.

    • Sumpguard

      …and for the smile on your face is worth plenty too!


    Great post, Diesel is still preference over petrol

  • JoeR_AUS

    The way I look at it.

    My current car uses in “extra urban” conditions 12l/100km. If I buy a diesel and can get 10l/100km therefore I will save $12 per week (400km driving per week). $612 per year.  Now you can argue that a petrol car can get 10l/100km but it will be a very small car which wont be able to carry the family/ load, also you can get a diesel that gets 8l/100 for extra urban.


  • Lauren Wills

    All models of kia with petrol and diesel engines are good but one better than other in some situation and features. There is no more difference between them but mostly diesel is more prior than petrol.

  • Mykl

    Loved the article thanks.  Am in the middle of my research for a new SUV and the obvious petrol/diesel question.  Had come up diesel (Kia Sportage) and your article and many of the comments have give comfort that the choice is the right one. 

  • Darren

    Still doesnt address the leaking nozzles, the diesel that doesnt evaporate on the ground around the pump, the problems with water, air, or petrol by mistake all very expensive in the new diesels.

    Also doesnt factor in LPG, my example, FJ Cruiser, v6 200kw and 380nm so 30nm less than the 3.0 prado diesel option in the same chassis, but 73 more Nm and much better NVH than diesel prado, using LPG its 20% cheaper per 100km than my td land cruisers to run, and 45% cheaper than running it on petrol. The rebated extra cost i got back within 14 months savings.

    A big fully loaded SUV on big tyres with barwork, roof rack, 1000km range, costing 40c per 100km more than a mates i30 diesel to run, on LPG.

  • Pamricourt

    Modern diesel engines have a turbo that needs to be cooled down before switching off the engine. If you fail to do this after a good run at above turbo cut in speed you risk a very expensive visit to the workshop. Turbos are not a good idea for those who have no patience or mechanical intrest, hence the cost benefit eqasion could fail.

    • Motorvated

      The average turbo diesel doesn’t require a turbo timer because the ignition temperature of diesel and therefore the exhaust gases, are not as hot as those of a petrol engine.   IOW, no need to cool it down as many contemporary petrol turbos do; intercoolers help also. My last two cars have been the ix35 and Sportage diesels and even when towing a boat on warm to hot days they have managed quite well.

      Good article John.  

  • Frostie

    I was silly enough to buy the Petrol version last year as I did not want to wait 4 months to get a Diesel. BIGGEST mistake ever! My housemate has the Diesel and both these vehicles are worlds apart to drive. The Petrol is quieter on the road but does not ride very well and streering is very light. It’s biggest failing is driving on cruise control, if it sees a hill coming it has no idea what gear to select as the Petrol does not develop enough torque. The Diesel on the other hand has a heavier feel to its steering and feels far more positive on the road. It does not even flinch on cruise control unless its a really steep incline. Driving both vehicles side by side the Diesel runs rings around the Petrol in every aspect other than road noise.