Car Buyers' Guide: To buy a diesel or petrol SUV
The emailed question was blunt: did I have a strong bias and preference for petrol-powered vehicles over diesel?
It seems some of my past columns may have suggested I did, but my reply was: "No, but who doesn't love that great lowdown torque of a new diesel and the excellent fuel consumption plus the lower pump prices?"
But having a spell behind the wheel of any new diesel vehicle and then handing the keys back to the respective new vehicle distributor is much different than actual long-term ownership in my view.
I have said it before, but it's worth repeating: any vehicle has to be fit for purpose and if it's a diesel-powered vehicle that ticks all the boxes for you, then go for it.
They are brilliant to drive and for long-distance towing with heavy loads or when asked to carry out real hard yards in tough environments without draining the fuel tank rapidly, petrol-fuelled vehicles definitely do come second.
On the flip side, short cold runs around town don't do diesels much good at all, and with the reduction in fuel consumption figures that manufacturers are now achieving from their petrol power units, the once rather large gap between the two in that respect is certainly narrowing.
Then there is the initial purchase price (when specification levels are similar) and ongoing servicing costs that usually swing in favour of petrol, plus those Road User Charges and higher relicensing fees associated with diesel-powered vehicles.
Potential diesel owners need to weigh up their needs carefully and buy accordingly.
The opportunity to drive back-to-back examples of the all-new Nissan Qashqai petrol and diesel offerings was a good opportunity to put some of my theories to the test.
Both diesel and petrol variants are identical in terms of overall dimensions, plus they share the same number of seating positions which is five, and are both driven via the front wheels only, and no manual transmission is offered.
There are four model options in total with the $42,990 TS being the only diesel available. The three petrol options vary in price levels with the $39,990 ST-L being a clone for the diesel, specification wise.
The base model ST has a recommended retail price of $35,990 with the Ti having the highest spec level and carries a retail price tag of $43,990.
I have always been a big fan of the Qashqai and the all-new model only enhances its all-round appeal.
The next generation CVT is another big step-up in the ongoing development of this type of automatic transmission and is mated to both petrol and diesel engine options.
Nissan Qashqai TS Diesel $42,990
The turbo 1.6-litre engine produces 96kW and 320Nm of torque and delivers adequate power and great low down grunt. It's reasonably quiet and claimed combined fuel consumption was 4.9L/100km. It also uses idle stop/start technology which translates to engine cut at the lights with automatic restart. It's a fuel saving and tail pipe emission reduction device but it can become almost annoying around town in slow traffic and the option to switch it off is very tempting at times. Specification wise the highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, reverse camera, leather steering wheel, dusk sensing headlights, rain sensing wipers, privacy glass, climate air conditioning and fog lights.
As expected, it wins the braked towing battle with a recommended 1400kg versus1200kg for all petrol models.
Nissan Qashqai Ti Petrol $43,990
The 2-litre petrol has a lot less low-down torque in comparison to the diesel but with 106kW of power and 200Nm of pulling power, it holds its ground in comparison to other similar size front-wheel-drive SUVs. Claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.9L/100km is hard to argue with and would be at the very sharp end of any comparisons with competitors.
Additional to the petrol ST-L and the diesel TS, features include LED headlamps, heated door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, around view monitoring, navigation, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, intelligent park assist and moving object detection plus leather accented seat trim.
For $1000 more, the Ti gets my vote. Not because it's petrol but because the top-of-the-line model offers better overall value for money specification-wise than the diesel. If I had the need to tow a small lightweight caravan or a small fizz boat for reasonably long distances, or was travelling more than about 25,000km a year, then diesel may get my vote.