?koda's entry in the petrol v. diesel debate

Škoda' introduced a Fabia Hatchback at the Geneva Motor Show, and the cleanest versions of this new addition to the Škoda lineup emit just 120 g/km. As expected, Škoda is offering the Fabia Hatchback with both diesel and petrol engines. Why do automakers, European automakers in particular, offer two types of engines? Choice is the obvious free market answer, and to help consumers make better decisions, Škoda released a little petrol versus diesel cheat sheet, which I'd added after the break. There's nothing groundbreaking in the arguments (petrol is often cheaper, has fewer toxic emissions; but modern diesels are clean and quiet, and diesel fuel gives more mpg), but it's concise and will probably be helpful to some people.

What I'm more interested in is your opinions. My family drives a petrol/gasoline car, but now and again I consider buying a diesel next (if we need to replace the Civic before the WhiteStar or a sweet diesel-hybrid is available). This is mostly because I'd like to get in on biodiesel. But, because I don't expect to make the switch for a few years, I haven't made any decisions yet. What about you? What do you drive? Why? Are you thinking of switching? Vote in the poll and then take it away in the comments.

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[Source: Škoda]

Fuel costs are the second largest consideration in a car's whole-life cost calculation after depreciation, accounting for some 30 per cent of the total over a given mileage. Therefore, it is paramount that company car drivers choose a vehicle – and fuel – that works to get the most from their money.

To address this thorny issue, Skoda has provided a series of guidelines for drivers to refer to when choosing a new vehicle. Martin Burke, Head of Business Sales for Skoda UK, comments: "Despite the onset of biofuel, most people still only consider the two serious challengers: petrol or diesel. This comprehensive set of guidelines sets out the benefits and downfalls of each, providing a vital tool for fleet managers and company car drivers alike."

The case for petrol

Put simply, petrol is cheaper than diesel in a number of areas. Firstly, the initial purchase price of the fuel is significantly less than its rival. In addition to this, drivers of petrol cars can enjoy cheaper road tax as it has fewer toxic emissions, meaning it also boasts a cleaner engine. However, most importantly for many, petrol vehicles also have a lower acquisition price.

Petrol cars also need less oil changes and are better for both extreme performance and stop-start journeys such as being stuck in traffic.

The case for diesel

So, it's an open-shut case then, judging from the reasons above? After all, cheaper fuel, acquisition and road tax in exchange for better performance look impossible to better. However, in 2005, diesel took a record share of the market – 45 per cent of all vehicles. Such models get bad press for being noisy, smelly and slow off the mark. However, nowadays, they start faster, and are quieter and smoother than ever before.

Diesel cars also provide significantly more miles to the gallon than their competitor and are best for frequent short journeys where the engine barely warms up. Company car drivers should note that

diesel vehicles cost less in company car tax, while bosses will be glad to learn that they are more effective for medium and high mileage fleets.

In spite of their generally higher acquisition pieces, diesel-fuelled vehicles sell for more and also comprise a strong fuel economy and low benefit in kind tax thanks to reduced emissions.

Martin Burke continues: "It is clear from looking at the case for each, that there is no categorical right or wrong choice. Drivers must ask themselves which would better suit their circumstance. For someone travelling a relatively low annual mileage, a petrol-fuelled vehicle is clearly the better option. However, for drivers racking up a medium to high number of miles will be pleasantly surprised by the miles to the gallon a diesel provides."

Skoda is an expert on issues affecting the business sales industry, with a total fleet share of 1.27% after securing a number of high profile clients, including IKEA, Marie Curie, Mencap and Caterham Cars. It is aiming is to grow its share of the business sales market by offering fleet managers and company car drivers alike its legendary 'extra bit of car' for their money.

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