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.
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.
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.