Which should I buy – diesel or hybrid?
Diesels and hybrids both promise excellent fuel economy, but they reward different types of driving
I f you’re looking for a fuel-efficient car, there’s a good chance you’ll be trying to choose between a diesel and a hybrid. But which is best? The truth is, it depends on the type of driving you do.
Diesel cars are much quieter than they used to be, but they’re still not as relaxing at low speeds as petrol or hybrid cars. Instead, it’s on the motorway that diesels come into their own. For starters, they tend to be quieter on the motorway than they are in town. But diesels also require fewer revs than petrol or hybrid cars to maintain a steady cruising speed, making them much more efficient on long journeys.
Most hybrids combine a petrol engine with an electric motor. This motor can power the car on its own at low speeds, while the energy that’s normally lost when you touch the brakes is used to recharge the batteries that supply the electric motor with power. As a result, hybrid cars are great for drivers who live in cities or spend a lot of time in stop-start traffic. However, on faster roads the petrol engine has to do all or most of the work, meaning a hybrid is likely to be no more efficient than a conventional petrol car on longer journeys.
Some manufacturers are now offering plug-in hybrids that have bigger batteries that you charge up via a conventional power socket when you get to your house or office, and these models can go much farther on electric only power. However, they also tend to cost thousands of pounds more than conventional hybrids to buy.
If you do a lot of motorway miles, then, a diesel will suit you better. But if you do most of your driving in town it’s worth considering a hybrid. Just bear in mind that hybrids are more expensive than conventional petrol cars, and the money you save on fuel may not be enough to offset this higher purchase price.
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