Diesel was once the fuel of choice for UK motorists, with government incentives citing its efficiency and low CO2 emissions to encourage uptake in the early 2000s. Two decades later and diesel is now a dirty word due to a mix of emissions scandals and high NOx emissions reducing air quality. This has seen the fuel fall from favour in successive years since 2016, with a jaw-dropping 55 percent dip in 2020 as EVs and hybrids have clawed their share of the new car market.
Is diesel the future of motoring? Absolutely not. Though a stricter Euro 7 emissions standard is being introduced in 2025, the fact is the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2030 meaning the future is definitely an electric and/or hydrogen one. But in the here and now, have we jumped the gun on dismissing diesel outright? We’d argue yes as there are some situations where diesel is still your best engine choice when leasing a car. Here’s a reminder of when and why…
You should lease a diesel if… you drive long distance and want to save money
Whereas electric car range is slowly improving, it’s nowhere close to the type of mileage you can do in a petrol or diesel car. So why does diesel get the edge over petrol when it comes to driving long distance? Superior fuel economy.
Compare the miles per gallon stats from the current Peugeot 208 as an example: the 1.2-litre PureTech 75 5-speed manual offers 53.6 miles per gallon compared to the 71.4 mpg offered by its 1.5l BlueHDi 6-speed manual counterpart. According to What Car? the savings can be even higher, with diesels using around 15-20 percent less fuel than their petrol-powered siblings on average, with the most noticeable difference being found on long motorway trips.
You should lease a diesel if… you regularly deal with rough terrain
While the superior range of a diesel vehicle is one thing, it’s also important to factor in terrain. And while the popularity of crossovers and faux SUVs with petrol engines has grown, and the majority of EVs look like SUVs to account for their large battery, when it comes down to it only a diesel SUV or pick-up truck gives you the surety to cover rough terrain.
That said, you will find the vast majority of electric vehicles offer four-wheel drive, but its purpose is mainly to provide more traction in rain and sleet as well as boost acceleration rather than get stuck in the mud or climb a hill… and do those two things seem like something you’d want to do in your pristine £81,990 Tesla Model X? We didn’t think so.
You should lease a diesel if… you need to tow anything
Torque is the key to a powerful tow car, and as diesel engines are bigger than petrol they have better torque over its rev range. This is important as it proves the car can pull easily from a stand-still and offer smooth performance and acceptable fuel economy when moving.
But wait, don’t electric cars have maximum torque available instantly? Yes, but utilising this is likely to cut your battery capacity in half and radically reduce the distance you’re able to travel before needing to spend an hour or three recharging. Add to that the large weight of electric vehicles and by towing a heavy caravan or trailer it would inevitably stress the brakes and transmission more than is safe.
You should lease a diesel if… you want no future concerns
With diesel having such a bad reputation now, and the impending ban on petrol and diesel sales, resale value and depreciation is likely to be a big concern for motorists.
This plays into the benefits of car leasing as, because usership is emphasised over ownership, the burden of residual and eventual resale value lies with the leasing company. On top of that, as you’re only leasing for a set period of time – be it 12 or 48 months – this allows you to reassess your vehicle needs more readily. Whereas a diesel makes sense for you to lease now, at the end of your term you might want to consider an electric vehicle instead.
You should lease a diesel if… you want less maintenance
Whereas petrol engines have a lot of variables such as spark plugs and distributors, and the batteries in electric cars and hybrids require specialist technicians to maintain, a diesel engine is pretty straightforward.
Whereas frequent oil and filter changes are important to keeping your diesel engine well maintained so that the fuel injection system doesn’t break down, there’s no need to have ignition tune ups like you would with a petrol car or suffer the inconvenience of travelling to a specialist or approved repairer if you have an issue with your EV.
While there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to what type of engine is right for you in 2021, if there’s one aim of this article it’s to advise you not to completely dismiss diesel just yet. Yes, its time is numbered, but with the current Euro 6 engines producing the cleanest diesels ever it still makes sense for a particular set of motorists.