Choosing between petrol and diesel powered engines

Choosing petrol or diesel power is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make before buying a new car. What’s going to be best for your type of motoring, for the environment and your wallet? Here you can get the facts to help you decide and tips for cutting your fuel costs.

In Singapore - most drivers go for petrol powered engines probably due to the taxes that the govt has implemented on diesel engines (because there is no duty on diesel fuel), and the reputation diesel engines have for being ‘dirty’ and ‘polluting’. Sales of diesel engines have been on the rise however, but slowly as more and more drivers are open to the idea of driving a diesel powered vehicle.

In Singapore - speaking strictly from a fuel running cost perspective, diesel is cheaper than petrol.

As at 27 Jan 2019, a litre of regular 95 octane petrol in Singapore costs $2.19 while a litre of diesel costs between $1.71 and $1.73. That’s a difference of about 46 cents per litre. If you multiply that by a regular fuel tank size of 60 litres, you are paying $131.4 for petrol, and $103.8 for diesel - a difference of $27.6 at every fill up.

Since 2018, the Government has introduced the new Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES), which measures the vehicle’s emissions of pollutants. The VES helps to determine if vehicles with low pollutant levels cars enjoy rebates to offset the high cost of cars.

As the VES can be quite lengthy, you can refer to the full details here. To put things simply - if your diesel car does fall under the best A1 band, you’re looking at a rebate of $20,000, which is a significant discount to help you reduce the cost of your car. We’ll also go through the list of pros and cons for each engine type to give you a high level overview :

Pros of diesel

  • Financial: diesel engines are more efficient and use 15−20% less fuel resulting in cheaper running costs. Diesel cars can typically travel up to 1000 km on a single tank, which can be perfect for those who put a lot of mileage on their cars. Modern diesel and petrol cars also require more or less the same amount of maintenance

  • Driving experience: diesel cars typically offer more low-speed torque which means they have better overtaking power. The gap between modern petrol and diesel cars are also getting narrower and it can be difficult to differentiate when you are behind the wheel of either car.

Cons of diesel

  • Environmental: despite lower CO2 emissions, diesel fuel produces tiny particles linked to breathing disorders such as asthma.

  • Driving experience: diesel engines tend to be slightly noisier, but this problem is improving with modern diesel cars. In Singapore, some drivers dislike the sound of diesel engines from the outside as they sound like a taxi or a lorry.

  • If you drive up north to Malaysia often, you may only be able to pump at certain petrol stations, as not all of them have diesel fuel that is up to modern standards (euro 5 standard)

Pros of petrol

  • Environmental: While CO2 emissions are higher than diesel, petrol cars produce less of some other dangerous emissions like nitrogen.

  • Driving experience: petrol engines tend to be less noisy.

Cons of petrol

  • Financial: engines are less efficient and use more fuel than diesel to cover a given distance

  • Driving experience: Petrol engines need the driver to change gear more regularly, for example when overtaking, to make the most of the engine’s power – but some people will actually prefer this style of driving.

carsSG Hired Cars