Why I’ll never own another diesel

Diesel really is the bad guy right now. In attempts to curb the soot that has forever been a diesel trademark, manufacturers have only succeeded in creating ever smaller particles, that now do even more damage to humans. Nice work!

But that’s not why I will never own another.

I’ve owned plenty of diesels over the years – a Citroen BX non-turbo diesel was my first, back in 1998, and there have been many other BXs too – turbo and otherwise. A Peugeot 306 DTurbo transported me over 40,000 miles and more recently, an XM turbo diesel achieved another 18,000 in my hands. It was followed by a Rover 600 diesel, with Rover’s excellent L-Series engine, and a ZX non-turbo diesel.

One of many, many diesels I have owned.

Then, earlier this year, there was the Omega six-cylinder turbo diesel, with BMW power no less. But, I reckon that might well have been my last.

You see, the XM in its latter stages, the ZX and definitely the Omega reminded me that diesel is horrible! The fuel itself stinks, it’s lethal if it leaks out over the road, for it is slipperier than a particularly slippery politician – wearing slippers. It doesn’t smell particularly pleasant when it is being burnt either, diesels sound HORRIBLE on a cold morning and I’m yet to drive a diesel which has a nice, linear power delivery. Well, ok, the non-turbo diesels have a very linear power delivery – there’s barely any, no matter where you are in the rev range. They are at least consistent.

Sure, there’s stuff I like about diesels. I like torque, so the way diesel deliver low down grunt is nice. But the Honda is (surprisingly) not bad at low-down grunt. The Lexus is, obviously, exceptional.

Petrol is just better, in so many ways. Petrol engines are generally quite zingy and feel light and energetic. The engines are smooth, even when cold. Petrol engines tend to be a lot more flexible too. They don’t run out of puff at 4000rpm. They sound nicer, even boring four-pot ones. Petrol doesn’t tend to be really skiddy either, even if it’ll catch fire more readily than diesel.

Petrol power! Sod outright economy.

So, I’m going to ignore the running costs. After all, what sort of a car enthusiast watches the pennies to the point that they would rather listen to a tractor than a symphony?

As for cost [EDIT – sums now corrected!], quick sums using today’s average fuel prices reveal that the XM would have cost me £1144 to cover 10,000 miles (fuel only). The Honda would cost £1600, so only an extra £456 to cover a year’s worth of miles. Mind you, I reckon the Honda has cost less to run, but that requires adding up a lot of bills, and I’m not sure I really fancy that.

Oh, the Lexus comes in at £1945 for 10,000 miles by way of comparison, so that’s your first classic ticket. Chances are, I’m probably not going to cover 10,000 miles in a year in it though. The Honda remains the main beast of burden. The Lexus is for special treats, and to spread the load a bit.

My point is that yes, diesel could save me money, but at what cost? They certainly don’t stack up well for the environment, due to an obsession about carbon emissions that has seen nitrous oxide emissions rise (though petrols produce these too). Mostly though, I just prefer the peace and quiet of petrol. I think that’s why the Honda has stayed around for quite so long. After many years of diesel power, it’s been a true joy.


7 thoughts on “Why I’ll never own another diesel

    • I don’t quite understand this post. I used to own a Ford Maverick petrol, which could do 25mpg and could surprise a Land Rover off-road…

      • haha! That’s exactly the response I was hoping for. A tractor went past today and I thought about how I really adore the powerful grumble of a diesel. So much action for so little fuss. That’s only when it’s working though. – One can only agree the truth is that they are dirty, sticky horrible things and wish I could transfer my love to alternative fuels as you are so fascinatingly exploring. It’s just hard to imagine how the diesel engine would ever be replaced. I fear whatever the solution maybe this would not incorporate the same power Hungary tones and rattles. Perhaps ignorance is bliss and the peak of this was long before we understood the true effects.

        ….off to google the alternative to heavy oil in ships now…!

  1. Like you I have become disillusioned with diesels but for slightly different reasons. I have owned several diesels including a bunch of BXs, a Zx and an Alfa 156. Those cars all had highly admirable engines which in the case of the Citroens, I think were more refined than the petrol versions. The Alfa was the best sounding diesel I’ve ever driven and lacked the freneticism of the petrol versions (sometimes a good thing, sometimes bad, depending on mood). I currently have a Chrysler Delta 1.6 Multijet which has a plentiful slug of torque for a 1.6 – 222 lbs/ft @ 1750 rpm which enables effortless acceleration from 30 mph in 4th gear. And although it is noisy when cold, it is totally unobtrusive when warm and running at speed and will rev to the red line without any fuss.That brings me to the downsides: unlike you, I’m too hamfisted to do my own maintenance and that is where modern diesels fall down. There is too much to go wrong, mostly associated with trying to control emissions. Additionally there are some driving traits which are highly undesirable such as a tendency to self-accelerate at low speeds with no throttle and awkward, baulky gearshifts at low speed, perfectly normal according to the local Chrysler rip off merchant, I mean dealer.

    • Yes, greater emissions kit is a definite downside. There must be a huge number of people who have bought modern diesels for city use, where the DPFs get clogged up because they’re never used in anger. The sound of modern diesels can be particularly unpleasant too – I drive Peugeot Boxer minibuses and when cold, they cackle in a truly hideous manner. Awful.

  2. In 34 years of car ownership, I have never owned a diesel. I expect I never will. Over the years I have driven many, mostly as company pool cars, but even the best were not as desirable as a petrol powered alternative. The 16V petrol engines, which give good high rpm power, compromised the low rpm torque of an 8V motor, but turbos have fixed this on the latest generation of cars. Plus, don’t forget LPG can give diesel fuel economy with petrol performance and soundtrack. Ideal for that large capacity petrol motor.

  3. I own two old Pajeros. A 1987 2.5 TD and a 1989 V6 3000. I´ve always loved the 2,5TD, but from the moment I bought the V6 3000, I cant live with the diesel anymore. Sounds horrible, has a very narrow useable rpm range, is slow and noisy. So I will make a very stupid move next spring and sell the 2.5TD which is in top condition and keep the V6 which is a lot less good. Just because I can´t stand the diesel anymore.

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