Ask Honest John Question of the Week: Should I buy a diesel car in 2024?

Dear Honest John,

"I currently have a 2019 Audi Q2 petrol automatic. I love it but I have recently moved and am now doing around 500 miles a week and my petrol bill is ridiculous. I mostly use the A41, M25 and M1 - I do very little driving at the weekend. I was thinking of trading it in for an Audi Q2 diesel or A3 diesel, but I am getting conflicting advice from friends and family telling me not to buy a diesel car.

I was also looking at a Kia Niro self-charging hybrid but research suggests this is not going to be saving me petrol costs as I do mostly long highway and motorway drives. I do not want either an electric or a plug-in hybrid."

- NW

Dear NW,

Choosing the right powertrain for you depends on both how you intend to use the vehicle, but also your own preferences. If you are regularly making long motorway journeys then a diesel car will be more economical than an equivalent petrol option. A self-charging hybrid will be more economical than an equivalent petrol, but likely not as economical as a diesel.

Diesel has fallen out of favour with both manufacturers and buyers, partly due to manufacturers moving towards electrification and also as government legislation is discouraging buyers from choosing diesel.

How much the environmental impact of diesel engines is a concern is a matter of personal choice, but petrol and diesel vehicles will likely still be on sale until 2035, and even past this point there will still be millions of cars on the road using these fuels.

Ultimately it would be worth doing your own calculations to work out what suits you best, as it is also worth taking into account that petrol is still slightly cheaper than diesel however. If plug-in hybrid and electric cars are not acceptable, then a diesel is likely to be the cheapest option.

Ask HJ

Why does my hybrid cost more to tax than my daughter's diesel?

My daughter has a Nissan Qashqai diesel and pays zero road tax. I have a Toyota Yaris hybrid and pay £160 car tax. I feel this is unfair. When I bought the hybrid I expected to pay £20 a year car tax. Is this fair?
Unfortunately this is a result of how the rules for Vehicle Excise Duty have changed over time. If your daughter is paying zero road tax it is likely that her car was registered between 2001 and 2017, when the rate of VED was calculated solely on CO2 emissions, with cars emitting less than 100g/km eligible for the zero rate. Since 2017, only vehicles emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 are eligible for the zero rate, while all other vehicles pay the same £190, or £180 for alternative fuel cars such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
Answered by David Ross
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