The differences between diesel and petrol

When it comes to buying a car, one of the first questions a buyer has to resolve is: petrol or diesel? But what are the differences between the two? We can tell you more about these two fuels and their differences, so you choose a car that’s right for you.

Diesel and petrol are both fuel propellants produced from crude oil. What separates these two fuels is the refining process they undergo.

How to choose between diesel and petrol?

That’s a good question, how do you choose between diesel and petrol? When it comes to choosing a car, both fuels have pros and cons. We decided to break down those pros and cons into the three main categories, so you have a better idea of what type of car (and fuel) is going to work for you.


Environmental concerns are becoming more and more prominent when it comes to choosing a car, and both types of engines offer positives and negatives. A diesel engine has lower CO2 emissions, and diesel engines manufactured before April 2017 are on a lower tax band because of this (though the newer diesel models are on a higher tax bracket). That said, with less CO2 emissions and higher fuel efficiency, diesel engines have much to recommend them.​

Petrol engines may have higher CO2 emissions, there’s no getting around that, but where they have the edge over diesel engines is more in what they don’t do. Diesel engines produce more harmful emissions, like nitrogen, and small particles that effect health issues like asthma.


When it comes to finances, again, both fuels have their pros and their cons. Diesel engines are more efficient on the whole, averaging between 15-30% less fuel than petrol ones. However, diesel fuel is also more expensive, and the newer diesel cars are currently subject to higher taxes.

Petrol is undoubtedly the cheaper fuel in the UK, and petrol cars also more prolific, and so tend to be cheaper to buy and service. However, with a less efficient engine, you are looking at having to top up your fuel more regularly.​


Is there a difference in handling when it comes to driving a diesel vs a petrol car? Is the driving experience better in a diesel fuelled car or petrol fuelled one? Well, diesel engines are usually nosier than your average petrol engine, but the engineering on diesel vehicles is moving so quickly and is becoming less of a problem. Additionally, this may not be a noticeable problem for you. Also, there is more low-speed torque with a diesel engine, so it has better overtaking power.

Petrol cars are generally considered to have quieter engines, so if you’re after a whisper soft drive, this may be the better option for you. Generally, petrol engines will need you to change gears more regularly, especially when overtaking, but many prefer that fine tuning style while driving.

There’s more choice than ever when it comes to choosing a new car, and technology has narrowed the gap between these two fuels. You can’t really go wrong with either option here, you just need to decide what pros and cons suit your needs.