Like politics and religion, the petrol / diesel debate will stay controversial. It will never be put to rest. I have driven both petrol and diesel cars in my life, as well as petrol and diesel 4x4's. Personally, diesel won my heart for many reasons and I don't think I will ever move back to petrol again.

Prepare for high consumption

With 4x4's, things happen on a very different level than with normal cars. They are much more expensive runners. They use double the fuel and they stop in double the distance. Tyres are twice as expensive and you often need to park a vehicle of double the size into half a parking space because the owners of the small hatchbacks on both sides stopped over the parking lines.

Because 4x4's does everything in double, it is advisable that you stop getting petty about things like fuel consumption. If you want to cry because the diesel consumption was 12 /100km on the previous trip and 13 /100km today, or that your petrol hit 30 l/100 km in thick sand, you either need to adjust quickly, or it is not the vehicle for you.

Both have Disadvantages - Accept it

Choosing between petrol and diesel is very much a personal choice, but for some reason there are many people who simply cannot make peace with the disadvantages of either.

Many of them buy petrol as a first try because they know that diesel is expensive to repair and they want the power of the petrol motor. Then they buy the petrol and the happiness starts to dissolve quickly with every fill up at the petrol station. They get grumpy about it and think there is something very wrong with the car. They will take it back to the dealer and shout on them to fix this. Dealer can't fix it. Then they start investigating and soon find this magic device or snake oil that will improve the power and the consumption. They buy it and it might work for a while due to the placebo effect. But after the third tank it is back to square one. Now they start taking really drastic steps and take the car to a tuning shop that will inevitably promise more power and better fuel consumption. Once again the placebo may work, but since the last work can also bring no possible improvement, they are soon back to square one or even worse, with a damaged motor as a result of unprofessional tuning.

After many nights of nightmares about the fuel consumption, they then take the plunge, sell this stupid petrol and buy the diesel. And then they smile from ear to ear. It is wonderful to sit with a much better fuel bill, but soon the smile fades when they cannot keep up with the Golf GTi from robot to robot any more, or when the diesel cannot stick the needle to 120km/h with the heavy trailer behind at the long inclines. It is just not acceptable that it drops to below whatever speed they set their targets on.

Same story. They will take the diesel back to the dealer and shout on him to fix the power. Dealer can't make it happen. The computer says there is nothing wrong. The car goes to the tuning shop again who miraculously tunes the diesel into a monster. Owner is very happy and use the power, only to sit with a seriously damaged diesel a while later because of high EGT, and he wants to cry in a bucket when the staggering repair bill is put on his table.

Now what? I am pretty sure not many of those people would consider walking or cycling so they once again end up with the choice between petrol and diesel. Neither could make them happy.

I drive a diesel because I found that for the speed at which my 4x4 leaves me safe margins for getting out of trouble, the power is more than adequate. The same for towing. For the speed at which the rig can run safely, the diesel have more enough power. I don't do sand dunes to compete with my mates. I do it for fun. I do it once a year if I am lucky. It is not worth it for me to pay the fuel bill all year round for one or two days of fun in the dunes. And I have it because I want the longer range when I do long trips. For me, it is a safety factor to know that I can get further with less fuel, but if you don't mind carrying a couple of jerry cans with it is your call.

Summary

  1. 4x4 vehicles, petrol or diesel are much heavier on fuel than sedans. Do not dream about 10 l/100km as a target.
  2. Petrols have much more power, but is also much more thirsty.
  3. Diesels have higher major repair bills.
  4. The disadvantages of neither can be eliminated with tuning.