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Should you still buy a diesel car?

Should you still buy a diesel car?
Should you still buy a diesel car?
Promoted by New Car Advice

At New Car Advice our aim is simple: to cut the confusion out of the car-buying process by providing you with free expert advice about the best cars for your needs. So how does the current climate around diesel affect this?


We could here recount the demise of this once-favoured fuel, but frankly the internet is already awash with articles on that subject. More useful, we think, to consider those scenarios where diesel does still make sense, as well as the increasingly important role to be played by hybrid and electric cars.


What’s interesting is that the advice as to whether or not to buy a diesel car has actually changed very little as a result of dieselgate. That is to say, car industry experts have long advised that diesel only really makes sense on a cost basis for those who cover a high annual mileage of say 15,000 miles per year or more.

The difference now is that buyers are listening. The are several reasons for this, not least that the fuel economy and tax advantages once enjoyed by diesel drivers have largely been removed. For that you can thank a rise in the number of small turbocharged petrol engines that come much closer to diesel levels of economy than had been previously possible, along with a restructuring or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, or ‘road tax’). Introduced in April 2017, this brought an end to hefty tax discounts for cars with low CO2 emissions, which were mostly diesels.

What’s more, from April 2018 first year tax costs will rise yet again for any new diesel car that doesn’t meet emissions targets not only in the laboratory but in real-world tests too.


The Government’s National Transport Survey shows that the average annual mileage of a privately owned car in 2016 was 7800 miles, whereas company cars covered more than double that at 18,900 miles. If you’re in the former camp it is quite possible that diesel was never going to be the most cost effective option, even before the aforementioned tax changes came into effect.

However, for those who do cover a high annual mileage there is still much to be said for modern diesels, the latest of which are fitted with equipment that cuts out the majority of harmful emissions. Same goes for those who drive very large cars, where diesel can still be much more efficient, or those who intend to tow.

Where buyers do need to be careful, however, is in residual values, because if demand for diesel cars continues on its downward trend (2017 saw registrations fall by 17 per cent compared with the previous year) you could end up being stuck with a car that is worth far less than its petrol-powered equivalent.


Choosing the right car can be confusing at the best of times, which is precisely why we created New Car Advice. Set up by motoring journalists Chris Knapman and Rebecca Jackson, the idea is to provide car buyers with a new and personalised way of accessing information and recommendations about particular makes and models of car. In doing so this free service can help to identify what model (or models) fit in with your particular requirement or life stage.

To that end both Chris and Rebecca have spent years reviewing cars for some of the UK’s largest motoring publications, and have not only driven the vast majority of new cars on sale, but can convey the pros and cons of each in a jargon-free manner, with information that’s tailored to you.

So, if you’re considering buying a new car but don’t know where to start, or you simply want to know if you’re being offered a good deal before signing on the dotted line, just get in touch.

For more information and to ask us a question visit the New Car Advice website.


One way to protect yourself from future drops in residual value is to use a PCP finance deal to fund your car. As part of this the dealer will guarantee (in the form of a Guaranteed Future Value) what the the car will be worth after a predetermined period of time. You then pay a deposit and a series of monthly payments for that period of time (usually three or four years), after which you can choose to either hand the car back with nothing else to pay, to buy it via a final balloon payment, or to change it for a different model.

Alternatively, you could lease the car using what is known as Personal Contract Hire (PCH) which can often be cheaper than a PCP when you work out the costs over the full term. In either instance you might end up paying more than you would when buying outright, but will be protected should the market for diesels collapse.


If you’re considering the possibility of moving away from diesel it follows that you might be interested in a hybrid or electric car. With the market for these evolving so rapidly (in the last four years alone around 50 new electrified vehicles have gone on sale) it can be tricky to keep up with developments. Again, this is where New Car Advice can help, because we can help you identify the right car for you.

To get started you can either browse through existing questions and answers at New Car Advice, or instead get in touch via our Ask a Question page. We aim to get back to all questions within 24 hours.

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