Shift Up: The devil is in the diesel


Motoring with Lee Kahl.

‘What kind of car should I buy?” is, without a doubt, the most common question people ask me.

For a giggle I may sometimes suggest a Wine Red 1985 Nissan Bluebird, just to see their confused reaction.

But most of the time I do try to be helpful, so I’ll start by asking them what type of car are they looking for.

We all have a rough idea of what we want to be driving.

A practical/economic hatchback perhaps, a people carrier for taking the kids and the dog to the park or perhaps something sporty with the roof down for the weekend.

But to my surprise, once you get down to the basics the real question people meant to ask from the start is whether they should be buying petrol or diesel.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of diesels and the world appears to have been turning against the diesel engine over the last couple of years.

With emissions scandals and governments planning to ban diesel (and petrol) powered cars completely from city centres; its certainly something that needs to be taken into account.

And in diesel’s defence it does have its place; depending on what type of car you are going to buy and what you’re going to use it for.

There are of course also hybrids,range extenders and fully electric cars to consider also. But if your requirement is a cheap small car to drive 300+ miles in then that really puts these out of the running.

This brings me back to the question of what kind of car are you looking for. Generally speaking a heavy diesel engine doesn’t belong in a sports car; it doesn’t have a characteristics of a fun/revvy engine.

In the same way it would make no sense in fitting a heavy 4×4 with a torque-less petrol rotary engine or fitting a big powerful V8 to a small family car.

Manufacturers spend colossal sums of money designing/testing their cars then offering them with engines that are a suitable match for them.

So even though times are changing and the question of which fuel type is going to be powering your next car is an important one, it shouldn’t be the main driving force behind which car you buy next (because that’s no fun).

It should be the next choice to be made based on the engines available ‘after’ you have chosen the car for you. Otherwise we’re all doomed to drive around in bland vanilla flavoured cars that may well tighten the purse string but never tug at the heartstrings.

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