Petrol vs Diesel – Which is more expensive to own?


Can the fuel economy gains of a diesel ever overcome the more expensive (usually) price tag associated with it?

Fuel economy has never been as crucial a factor in the decision-making process of buying a new car as it is now. Manufacturers spend much of their development and research money on reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Here in South Africa, buyers have generally favoured cheaper petrol cars over their pricier diesel siblings, but in the SUV and bakkie segments, diesel reigns supreme, mostly because these vehicles tend to be sold to buyers for whom the greater torque and power delivery characteristics are important. Either way, diesel engines are more expensive to manufacture and therefore they are generally priced significantly higher than their petrol equivalents. But with their greater economy, are diesel engines actually the more cost-effective purchase?

In order to calculate which is cheaper, we’ve taken the cost of two models within a vehicle’s range and compared their cost and fuel consumption for the life of the vehicle’s service/maintenance plan. This should (hopefully) remove any unforeseen costs of replacement parts, as they should be covered by the manufacturer. Basically, can the extra cost of a diesel car be overcome by the better fuel consumption over the length of the car’s service plan? For this exercise we used the coastal price of fuel – currently 95 Octane petrol is R13.72 per litre and diesel is around R11.71, if you shop around for the best price.

Audi Q5 2.0TFSI quattro vs 2.0TDI quattro


Audi Q5 2.0TFSI quattro

Audi Q5 2.0TDI quattro

Price R747 500 R698 000
Fuel Economy 6.8L/100km 4.9L/100km
Range 1 029 km 1 327 km
Power and Torque 185 kW / 370 Nm 140 kW / 400 Nm
0-100kph 6.3s 7.9s
Maintenance plan 100 000 km 100 000 km
Service interval Determined by OBC (max 30 000 km) Determined by OBC (max 30 000 km)
Fuel Cost R93 333 R61 771
Cost to run R840 833 R759 771


R81 062 cheaper to run

Audi SQ5 quattro (2017) Review

New Audi Q5 (2017) Launch Review

Audi Q5 (2017) First Drive

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BMW 220i auto vs 220d auto


BMW 220i Sport line auto

BMW 220d Sport line auto

Price R513 384 R550 800
Fuel Economy 5.5L/100km 4.0L/100km
Range 946 km 1 300 km
Power and Torque 135 kW / 270 Nm 140 kW / 400 Nm
0-100kph 7.2s 7.0s
Maintenance plan 100 000 km 100 000 km
Service interval Determined by OBC Determined by OBC
Fuel Cost R75 416 R45 080
Cost to run R588 800 R595 880

R7 080 cheaper to run


Also read: BMW 2-Series (2014) Driven

2014 BMW 2-Series Video Review

Hillclimb Shootout: Aston Martin Vantage N430 vs BMW M240i vs Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport

Facelifted BMW 2 Series and M2 Revealed

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Ford Figo 1.5 petrol vs 1.5 turbodiesel


Ford Figo 1.5 Ambiente

Ford Figo 1.5TDCi Ambiente

Price R175 700 R197 900
Fuel Economy 5.9L/100km 4.1L/100km
Range 712 km 976 km
Power and Torque 82 kW 136 Nm 74 kW 215 Nm
0-100kph 11.8s 12.1s
Service plan 40 000 km 40 000 km
Service interval 20 000 km 20 000 km
Fuel Cost R32 373 R26 314
Cost to run R208 073 R224 214

R16 141 cheaper to run


Also read: Ford Figo 1.5 Automatic Sedan (2016) Review

Ford Figo 1.5 TDCi Ambiente Hatch (2016) First Drive

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Hyundai 2.0 Elite auto vs 2.0CRDi Elite


Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Elite auto

Hyundai Tucson 2.0CRDi Elite

Price R474 900 R539 900
Fuel Economy 9.0L/100km 6.7L/100km
Range 689 km 925 km
Power and Torque 115 kW 196 Nm 131 kW 400 Nm
0-100kph 11.1s 9.3s
Service plan 90 000 km 90 000 km
Service interval 15 000 km 20 000 km
Fuel Cost R111 114 R70 640
Cost to run R586 014 R610 540

R24 526 cheaper to run


Hyundai Tucson (2017) Specs & Price

Hyundai Tucson Sport (2017) Quick Review

Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi Executive (2017) Review

Searching for a used Tucson?

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Jeep Renegade 1.4 turbopetrol vs 1.6 turbodiesel


Jeep Renegade 1.4L T Limited

Jeep Renegade 1.6 Multijet Limited (turbodiesel)

Price R420 900 R432 900
Fuel Economy 6.0L/100km 4.6L/100km
Range 800 km 1044 km
Power and Torque 103 kW 230 Nm 88 kW 320 Nm
0-100kph 10.9s 10.2s
Service plan 100 000 km 100 000 km
Service interval 15 000 km 20 000 km
Fuel Cost R82 320 R53 839
Cost to run R503 220 R486 739

R16 481 cheaper to run

Also read: Jeep Renegade 1.4L T Limited Launch Edition (2015) Review

Top 10 things to know about the New Jeep Renegade

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Mercedes-Benz C250 turbopetrol vs C250d turbodiesel


Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG-Line

Mercedes-Benz C250d AMG Line

Price R636 512 R664 900
Fuel Economy 5.9L/100km 4.4L/100km
Range 1 158 km 1 500 km
Power and Torque 155 kW 350 Nm 150 kW 500 Nm
0-100kph 6.6s 6.6s
Maintenance plan 100 000 km 100 000 km
Service interval OBC OBC
Fuel Cost R78 197 R51 568
Cost to run R714 709 R716 468

R1 759 cheaper to run


Also read: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C250 (2014) Review

Spy Shots: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Facelift

Mercedes-Benz C300 (2015) Review

Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe (2016) Review

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Nissan X-Trail 2.0 petrol vs 1.6 turbodiesel


Nissan X-Trail 2.0 XE

Nissan X-Trail 1.6dCi XE

Price R374 900 R412 900
Fuel Economy 8.3L/100km 5.1L/100km
Range 723 km 1177 km
Power and Torque 106 kW 200 Nm 96 kW 320 Nm
0-100kph 11.1s 10.5s
Service plan 90 000 km 90 000 km
Service interval 15 000 km 15 000 km
Fuel Cost R102 473 R53 725
Cost to run R477 373 R466 625

R10 748 cheaper to run

Also read: Nissan X-Trail (2014) Review

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Renault Duster 1.6 petrol vs 1.5 turbodiesel


Renault Duster 1.6 Dynamique

Renault Duster 1.5dCi Dynamique

Price R259 900 R279 900
Fuel Economy 7.6L/100km 4.8L/100km
Range 658 km 1042 km
Power and Torque 77 kW 148 Nm 80 kW 240 Nm
0-100kph 11.5s 12.2s
Service plan 90 000 km 90 000 km
Service interval 45 000 km 45 000 km
Fuel Cost R93 830 R50 571
Cost to run R353 730 R330 471


R23 259 cheaper to run

Also read: Renault Duster 1.5dCi 4WD (2015) Review

2018 Renault Duster First Photos Released

2015 Renault Duster Facelift In-Depth Review: Pricing, Interior, Rivals (Video)

Renault Duster Explore Edition (2016) Lands in South Africa

Interested in buying a Renault Duster?

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Toyota Hilux 2.7 petrol vs 2.4 turbodiesel


Toyota Hilux double cab 2.7 SRX

Toyota Hilux double cab 2.4GD6 SRX

Price R385 800 R442 700
Fuel Economy 10.6L/100km 7.1L/100km
Range 755 km 1 127 km
Power and Torque 122 kW 245 Nm 110 kW 400 Nm
0-100kph 12.1s 13.2s
Service plan 90 000 km 90 000 km
Service interval 10 000 km 10 000 km
Fuel Cost R130 840 R74 811
Cost to run R516 640 R517 511

R871 cheaper to run


Also read: 2016 Toyota Hilux vs Ford Ranger – Offroad & Review

New Hilux vs Old Hilux – An Expert’s Opinion on What’s Changed

Drag Race: Hilux vs Ranger vs Amarok vs KB

Toyota Hilux vs Ford Ranger vs Isuzu KB vs Volkswagen Amarok (2016) Comparative Review

Want a Toyota Hilux? 

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Toyota Fortuner 2.7 auto vs 2.4GD-6 auto


Toyota Fortuner 2.7 auto

Toyota Fortuner 2.4GD-6 auto

Price R438 000 R474 200
Fuel Economy 10.5L/100km 7.9L/100km
Range 762 km 1 013 km
Power and Torque 122 kW 245 Nm 110 kW 400 Nm
0-100kph 12.4s 12.7s
Service plan 90 000 km 90 000 km
Service interval 15 000 km 15 000 km
Fuel Cost R129 638 R83 230
Cost to run R567 638 R557 430


R10 208 cheaper to run

Extended Test: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Automatic [with Video]

Toyota Fortuner (2016) First Drive

Toyota Fortuner 2.4GD-6 (2016) Review

Toyota Fortuner vs Ford Everest (2016) Comparative Review [Video]

Searching for a used Fortuner?

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Volkswagen Polo 1.2 turbopetrol vs 1.4 turbodiesel


Volkswagen Polo 1.2TSI Highline

Volkswagen Polo 1.4TDI Highline

Price R276 300 R286 400
Fuel Economy 5.1L/100km 4.1L/100km
Range 882 km 1 098 km
Power and Torque 81 kW 175 Nm 77 kW 250 Nm
0-100kph 9.3s 9.9s
Service plan 45 000 km 45 000 km
Service interval 15 000 km 15 000 km
Fuel Cost R31 500 R21 596
Cost to run R307 800 R307 996

R196 cheaper to run


Also read: Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion (2015) Review

Drag Race: BMW i3 vs New Polo GTI - Electric vs Petrol

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI Spied

Drag Race: New VW Polo GTI vs Ford Fiesta ST

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI (2014) Review

Looking for a Volkswagen Polo?

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The result here is generally in favour of petrol-powered cars. The higher cost of the diesel models is hardly ever recouped by the fuel savings made over the duration of the vehicle's service plan. That being said, the longer the service plan offered the more the results swing in favour of the diesels. If you do a lot of mileage, something like a Mazda diesel that has an unlimited mileage service plan for 3 years could well be worth considering. 

* Note that this exercise excluded resale values.