This is a question that troubles every new car buyer in India today. Petrol cars were very popular for a long time but diesel cars have caught up well over the last ten years. The perceivable price difference between the two fuels is one of the many reasons for this. Apart from entry-level hatchbacks, every other car in India is available with a diesel mill today. Here are some of the reasons and pointers that will help you make the choice better.
Price is one of the biggest factors that influence sales of both diesel and petrol cars. Generally, petrol cars are cheaper than the diesel counterparts. For example, a Maruti Suzuki Dzire zdi will set you back by 8.06 lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai, while the Dzire zxi, which is the petrol version, will be 7.06 ex-showroom Mumbai. As you can clearly see, there is a price difference of almost a lakh rupee between the two cars. This is the case with every other car from every other manufacturer unless it's a special edition or a performance variant. So, more people tend to go for petrol cars as they are cheaper, while others go for diesel cars as diesel fuel is considerably cheaper than petrol. The recent increase in petrol prices has changed the market's perception towards diesel cars. Diesel is 71 rs/litre while petrol is almost at 83rs/litre in Mumbai as of today, which itself reflects a 10rs price difference between the both, which is a great deal. A full tank of diesel for a car with 55-litre capacity will come to 3900 rs, while the same for a petrol car will be 4500 rs. A considerable difference from a full tank fill up itself, no wonder why diesel cars are selling like hotcakes despite the fact that a diesel car costs comparatively more than a petrol car.
This is a very debatable topic from the beginning itself, mainly due to modern advancements in Automotive Engineering. Petrol powered cars are more powerful than diesel cars anyday. Have you ever seen a diesel-powered Ferrari or a diesel flat-six Porsche 911 ?! Petrol cars will be more powerful and unlike diesel engines, they can operate at much higher speeds. Most diesel engines can rev up to 5000/5500 rpm while petrol engines can easily exceed 6500 mark without breaking a sweat. Completely off topic, but the V10 in a Lexus LFA will rev to 9000 rpm and it does it from idle in just 0.6 seconds. While power is petrol's ally, diesel has got torque with it. Petrol engines can’t hold a candle against the diesel when it comes to outright torque. Most trucks and semitrailers are powered by diesel because of the same factor. Pulling power is more with diesel and torque is something you will never get bored of. Petrol cars have also advanced in this front will the help of forced induction. Turbochargers and Superchargers help engines increase power and torque considerably. But, almost all diesel cars in India are turbocharged. Modern diesel engines have become way much more refined and smooth but with turbos, you also get turbo lag, which is the time taken by the turbo to get spooled up to operating speeds. Petrol cars are a better choice if you want instant response and high power output along with refinement. Diesel is better for you if you want more pulling power. Like I said, it's a never-ending debate between the two. But, ultimately given the choice to pick just one forever, I’m pretty sure that most of us will end up with a petrol car.
In both the above-said points, petrol cars have obliterated diesel cars but when it comes to sales, it's still the diesel that keeps on climbing. Why? Because everything except efficiency is against diesel engines. Diesel engines, on an average, is more efficient than petrol engines. Higher combustion ratio of diesel engines is what gives them this edge. Almost all budget diesel cars in India return close to 20kmpl, which is a figure that is deemed difficult for petrol cars. There are exceptions, some petrol cars return more than 20kmpl to the litre, but most of them are low capacity motors with mediocre power and torque figures. A diesel on the hand will have stellar power and torque figures and along with good efficiency. so you're better off with a diesel car if your running is high or if you like you to keep a check on your fuel bills.
The above three factors mainly influence the sales but there are also some lesser important factors like refinement, maintenance cost, pollution, reliability etc. Petrol cars are more refined than diesel cars mainly due to their smooth working and lesser combustion ratio. Modern diesels have improved a lot and are refined for the better but still, the petrol cars take the lead here. Diesel cars are more polluting than petrol cars which is no new news, often can one see a diesel car emitting black smoke under hard acceleration. Diesel cars also require more maintenance as they are more complicated than petrol engines. On an average, a petrol car has more engine life and is also considerably more reliable than a diesel engine. diesel engines are more sensitive to fuel quality and the cost of oil and other accompanying components for a diesel engine costs more. Wear and tear parts are also more likely to fail early on a diesel car due to the lower refinement of diesel mills.
So, ultimately the decision depends upon what a customer wants, choices available have become endless with modern advancements in automotive industry. Getting a petrol car is completely reasonable if your running is quite less or if you prefer performance and refinement. Diesel is more suited for you, if your running is more, and if efficiency is something that you’re looking for. The debate between petrol and diesel still goes on while the future is looking electric and positive.