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Buying Car: Diesel, CNG or Petrol?

When we come across situation of buying a new car then we find ourselves confused, whether we should go for Petrol or Diesel, would it be worth spending 1lakh+ on diesel car? etc. etc. Below is some explanations I have collected from various forums and concluded that if you are looking for city car then go for petrol and if you are planning some good trip then it would be worth going for diesel, you can also calculate the expenditure based on few inputs provided below, hope this post will provide you some guidelines.

First Question we ask,
I want to purchase a car, it should be diesel or petrol and will I trend on power?

Suggestions starts puring in,

  • Petrol engines are much cleaner, and fun to drive as compared to their diesel counterparts. The reason being the fuel itself. Petrol burns much cleaner than diesel.
  • Petrol engines are rev happy and high speed engines. They have been used in cars since long.
  • On the other hand diesel engines are high torque engines. They have been used in SUVs, trucks, trains, ships etc where high torque is required over speed. They need to generate very high pressure to burn the fuel and hence become more heavier and bulky.
  • Diesel engines have no advantage over petrol engines. The only advantage is in monetary terms – lesser fuel price. And again government is already planning to tax diesel vehicles which will make them dearer.
  • Petrol engine outperforms diesel engine hands down – lighter, cleaner, great to drive!

Go for a diesel engine only when your daily travel is greater than 50km and if you want to save a little on fuel costs in long run. Otherwise without giving a second thought go for a petrol engine.

Now, digging more in it, question arises around Noise in diesel engine, so,

Noise in diesel cars : Though the noise levels are reduced in diesel cars these days, but you can easily feel it after some time of running .. But in cabin noise are pretty less .. So as long as you are driving with all the windows up and with AC, inside you might not feel anything but an onlooker will be able to easily figure out that you are driving a diesel car.

There is nothing called as “Diesel generally more powerful” or vice-versa. Both are rated to deliver a specific torque and power at a certain RPM …

Following data points might be worth considering :

  1. A car with higher torque is generally believed to pull better. This too depends on at what RPM you are getting the torque. If the max torque is at low RPM, this means that just by a slight accelerator press, the car will move faster quickly giving you a better driving experience in dead traffic conditions or scaling ghats. Similarly, if the higher torque is at a very high engine RPM, it means that you will have to press the accelerator pedal hard to get some juice out.
  2. A car with higher BHP is generally believed to deliver higher power. But that again is determined to a good extent from the RPM at which that power is available. Higher power at lower RPM means that it will be swift .. but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the car with high power at higher rpm is bad. It basically means that when you want peak power (going at a very high speed), your engine will be max loaded ..
  3. Coming to the diesel and petrol variants of same model, Diesel cars have more rated torque compared to their petrol counterparts and petrol ones have more rated power. But both don’t mean much as for normal driving, we don’t require that much torque/power. This too is not true for some cases like Verna CRDI and Vento/Rapid Diesel.
  4. Diesel cars have turbo lags as rightly pointed out .. so below a certain RPM they will appear sluggish and after that once the turbo charger kicks in, the car will become very swift .. But the newer generation diesel engines like the Renault’ s 1.5 dCI (Verito, Pulse, Micra, Sunny) are supposed to have a non-noticeable turbo lag.
  5. For more details, you might want to refer to the power/torque curves vs.the engine RPM published by car manufacturer .. All that is a waste of time IMO unless you are a rally racer or a Automobile journo/writer .. Best way to take the call is driving it yourself.

ALL CARS ARE GREAT THESE DAYS .. and most of the manufacturers are ramping up their after sales … so the advantage that Marutis and Hyundais had is corroding away..

I am not a high torque junky, I need a car that swiftly moves around in the city traffic and reaches nice speed on highway ..
Whereas my friend wants a HUGE SUVish car loaded with torque .. doesn’t like downshifting while climbing up … but is OK with a max speed of 110-120 on highways ..

Don’t read too much into power/torque specs .. Verito doesn’t look great on specs .. But its one hell of a car to drive and maintain and very high on VFM factor. I would simply settle for a verito rather than waiting for ages for a diesel dZire ..

Just reiterating, best way is to drive the car and see if it suits your driving style ..

Next Question we ask,
I want to purchase a car and my range is max 5.5 lac on road.
There are two options 1. Petrol car with CNG 2. Diesel car.

Suggestions starts pouring in, one which I liked as of Feb 2012,
Polo-best looking hatch, best premium hatch around…but keep in mind, this is a 3 valve engine(FYI, Skoda Fabia has thesame 1.2 lt petrol engine, is spacious, but not so good looking as Polo). So, it makes more sense to go for 1.6 Polo, which is expensive. Or Diesel version.


Realistically, looking, if you need premium spacious hatch then there is just one choice i20, 1.2lt.(Again same engine as i10,1.2lt, so if space is not that important you could save money here)

Swift is good, but long waiting for diesel, so choose accordingly.

Micra– Not so good network, so NO.

Punto:- Wise car, lots of torque, fun to drive, looks cool, but again short on bhp, and fiat servicing, etc. Although the car is good. Drive it first.

A stretch and Etios can be an option, amazing engine, not so good looks, but this is a sedan.

Liva, plz no, although spacious, but I didnt like the built quality and drive, i.e upto Toyota standards….

Honda Brio:-Powerful, torqy fun to drive, but again waiting, and small on luggage space,5 people can sit in this though.(power wise, I guess this is the best hatch, next to swift)


Hyundau i20, scores on decent power, lots of space, good looks, premium hatch. Price 5.7 for magna, onroad, so suits budget.

Now some inputs for LIVA,
I have been using Diesel Liva since 2 months and it is amazing… the space, ride quality, etc.
I know that Toyota has compromised a little bit on interiors but not on utility features (mine is GD model which comes with ABS with EBD, power steering, power windows, etc)
No doubt about Toyota quality…
This makes it a value for money and no-nonsense car…

1)If you are looking for CNG, please go for a factory fitted kit, which will
limit your choice to Maruti Wagon R, Alto. Getting it fitted from outside creates lot of problems like compromise on power, resale value coming down, little increase in maintenance, etc. Before Liva, I was using a Wagon R with LPG kit fitted from outside (RTO approved though), still it created lot of problems for me and I ended up not using it and spending Rs 25k unnecessarily.

2)You can go for Diesel engines as todays diesel engines are far better than our perception. Im assuming that you have done your homework on petrol/diesel and not taking a decision just by comparing petrol and diesel prices.

Some inputs for Hyundai i20,

Reasons :
1.Best interiors in the class
2.Good looking exteriors
4.Powerful (80 PS). Second best in petrol 1.2 engine
5.Comfortable to drive
6.Decent Average

Inputs about Petrol/Diesel variants,

For Petrol : Jazz.
Diesel : Swift or I20

Now question arises that how much usage?
Any idea what is the daily minimum running expected for a diesel car?
If one is looking at a daily running of about 30 km (home office home) then should we go for petrol car or diesel?

Detailed description of it,

Thought over and over on these questions for many months and then went for diesel. 30kms a day is good enough in my point of view that is exactly how much I expect to drive. I understood after reading many many articles that with new technology in place for all these cars there is no minimum running expected as far as maintenance is considered. Mostly they talk of it from cost perspective.


Now generally for the same cars petrol and diesel cost your per km. difference would come to about 3 Rs. per km. Now you might be tempted to divide that extra 1Lakh by 3 and say that 33,333kms is the break even in that case for owning a diesel car. But that is not true. After say 5 years when you sell the car you might get atleast 50 K more for your diesel car. Which means that actually you need tocover say 18K kms to recover your investment. And that I am sure you will do with your mileage in 3 years.

So if you are keen on it I would suggest to go for diesel car options under 6-6.5 Lakhs options you have are : Indica V2 (Cheapest and the best value for money diesel), Ritz (5.7-6.5 L), Swift (6-7.5 L),i20 (6.8-8L), Vista (5.5 6.5L) and Liva (6.5-7 L) Punto (7-8L) and Figo (6-7.5 L)

Now the one that I bought after a lot of research was Vista. Though I liked Liva too. Just to give a perspective. Vista uses Fiat Quadrajet engine …and this is the same used by RITZ, SWIFT, PUNTO and VISTA. So check what ride quality and interiors you like and which do you find more interesting and go for that. Engine is the same for all 4!


***Though I agree that a Maruti petrol will always have lesser depreciation than a maruti Diesel and a Tata Diesel will have less depreciation than Tata Petrol **** it also depends on the brand in that sense.


Though after this much of discussion, I decided to go for Skoda Fabiapetrol keeping that my running would be within city and around 500 kms a month so maintenace cost will also come down as fabia require service every 15000kms, so to an added advantage it looks to be a better car (not by face value but by driving value)!