Petrol Vs Diesel Engines – Which Is Better and Why? Part I

After covering an article on the volatility of petrol and how fuelling at different times of the day might cause you to receive less value for your money, I would like to clarify that the same does not happen to diesel because it is heavier and less volatile. Also, while petrol burns easily and thus produces more power and faster propulsion, diesel burns slower – actually it does not even burn at all. Not that petrol burns either: it is the vapour that burns, but when it comes to diesel it will not vaporize easily and even when it does the vapour still will not catch fire. Combustion occurs in a diesel engine only when the diesel is injected into hot compressed air, and the energy output in this case is more of toque rather than power. Yes – torque is the ‘might’ to move a mass of load while power, better off described as horsepower, is the force that moves a car from one point to another, fast.

Since diesel is heavier, more cumbersome to deal with and involves lots of pressure and tension, the engine running on it must be made of tough components to withstand these forces and the abuse that comes with neglect and poor servicing, especially because most owners of diesel-powered cars abuse them more than the owners of petrol-powered cars. This could be because most of them are commercial and heavy-duty cars and the owners don’t mind as long as they get the job done while the petrol-powered cars are for leisure and everyday use, but either way, diesel components are more resilient and thus more expensive but they also wear out faster due to the stress they undergo, and as a result they demand more frequent servicing than the components of petrol engines. That is true, but if you think that diesel-powered cars are slow, stink and produce fumes like a coal locomotive, Henry Ford is long dead and Bedford trucks are no longer in production – welcome to the 21st century.

Volkswagen engineers have been in the news lately about their flawed diesel software, but what I want to focus on is that these engineers of the world’s second best-selling automotive company are running their cars on diesel. Why would they if diesel was as awful as some have been made to believe? Mercedes too has diesel variant models that boast of as low as 5L/100 km on the combined cycle, while the Prius with all its fanfare does about 4.4L/100 km. Modern diesel-powered cars are clean, efficient, quiet and sometimes fast. Of these, the greatest attribute is efficiency. The Mercedes engine whose efficiency I mentioned above is the 2014 E350 CDI, a very powerful engine and its hybrid version will sip only 4.0L/100 km. Where does that leave the Prius? In a dumping area behind a Chinese restaurant.

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