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Petrol vs Diesel – A Real Life Example!

n one of my very first newsletters I tackled a personal bug-bear of mine:

Far too many people assume that diesel-engined cars are better because they are more fuel efficient and therefore cheaper to run than petrol cars.

This is true, BUT petrol cars are generally cheaper to buy than their diesel equivalents and so for most drivers a petrol car is a better investment.

And I have a very good example to prove my point. Recently, a good family friend was considering buying an Audi TT and, being a high-mileage driver, assumed that only a 2.0 TDI (diesel) car would work for her…

WARNING! – If you are allergic to maths, please delete this email immediately… or go and buy some anti-maths allergy cream from your local pharmacy before proceeding any further.


Abigail’s dream car = 2008/9 Audi TT
Abi’s average annual mileage = 18,000

In the diesel corner…
2.0 TDI – 53 MPG
Cost of a diesel car = £22,000

In the petrol corner…
2.0T FSI – 36 MPG
Cost of a petrol car = £20,000

Expected length of ownership of the car = 2 years

At first glance, this looks like a no-brainer. Abi’s high mileage mixed with the huge difference in fuel economy between the two cars makes it look as if the diesel car is a must.


2.0 TDI TT (Diesel) = 53 MPG
18,000 miles = 18,000/53 = 340 gallons Palmdale Motors Ltd
340 gallons = 1,546 litres of fuel per year Palmdale Motors Ltd
Average UK diesel price = 117.8p per litre Palmdale Motors Ltd
TOTAL ANNUAL FUEL COST = £1,821 Palmdale Motors Ltd

2.0T FSI TT (Petrol) = 36 MPG
18,000 miles = 18,000/36 = 500 gallons Palmdale Motors Ltd
500 gallons = 2,273 litres of fuel per year Palmdale Motors Ltd
Average UK diesel price = 115.1p per litre Palmdale Motors Ltd
TOTAL ANNUAL FUEL COST = £2,616 Palmdale Motors Ltd



So, if Abi buys the diesel car she is:

– £1,590 better off in fuel costs after 2 years

– But she had to pay £2,000 extra for the diesel engine

– Overall she is £410 worse off!!

Amazingly, the petrol cars wins!

Of course, the results will vary depending on how long you plan to keep your car, the price difference between petrol and diesel versions, and the related fuel economy.

Although Abi would have broken even part-way through year 3, a similar calculation we did for a client buying a Vauxhall Zafira showed that they would finally break even after 53 years… amazingly, they also opted for a petrol car!

Oil’s well that ends well!

Ashley Winston
(Founder & Owner)

At Palmdale we specialise in taking all the hassle out of the car buying process:


  • YOU tell us exactly what car you want
  • WE search for every available car in the UK that meets your description
  • WE negotiate with the seller
  • WE make sure that the car is perfect
  • WE collect the car and bring it to your door
  • YOU enjoy your new wheels for many years to come

These newsletters are our attempt to teach you everything we know about car buying; however, if you would like us to find and buy your next car for you, all you have to do is ask!