Currently reading: Which fuel should you choose for your next car?
With such a vast array of options available these days, we list them all to help you decide what's best

One day, your children or grandchildren may well ask what you did during The Great Petrol Versus Diesel Debate of the late 2010s.

Chances are you just got on with the business of driving to work and making a living. In so many ways, this is a debate that none of us has any real control over. It’s what can happen when governments try to be very clever and meddle in things they do not understand. Environmental naivety has led to the point where I was confronted by a buyer of a new car asking whether he had made the ‘wrong’ decision by choosing a diesel two months ago.

You will be pleased to hear that my opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s and people rarely act on my inane advice. Autocar’s position on modern diesels is correct: they have never been better, dynamically or environmentally, never mind that you need a big bottle of AdBlue.

Audi a3 cabrio

I think there really needs to be some sort of flow chart to explain it all. I may have to draw one. For the time being, are you a business or private buyer? Businesses can do what they want really, and if you are pounding around the country, then it has to be a diesel. But I am more concerned about the common man and woman and their private purchase. Only buy a brand-new car if you can afford it. Do loads of miles?

Buy diesel. Don’t do loads of miles? Buy petrol or hybrid. Overall, though, if you are buying a car, buy used because you’ll save some cash – and ideally buy petrol because the future is now rather less uncertain. I worry about virtue-signalling local councils charging oil-burners more.

So privateers, there is the nearly new option. A Volkswagen Up 1.0 Move with delivery miles (10) and registered in 2018 is around £7700, compared with £10,500 new. It should last a long time and be easy to resell at any point.

Vw up lead 0931

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If you want some comfort, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2.1 C300 CDI Bluetec Hybrid is almost £19,000 with 40,000 miles. As a diesel and electric hybrid, it seems to address a couple of issues, such as frugality and emissions, but it might survive a bit longer in the real world than a conventional oil-burner.

One vehicle in the classifieds blows the whole petrol versus diesel debate apart: £250 – we’ve all got that down the back of the sofa–will secure a 1995 1.9 TD with a Citroën ZX Aura estate attached. Longish MOT and 112,000 miles. Buy that and annoy and confuse everyone, except your children or grandchildren.

What we almost bought this week: 

Vauxhall VXR8It may not have a name to drop at fashionable dinner parties but this butch, eye-catching Vauxhall has supercar-shaming pace, and if its old-school approach makes it feel like it belongs in another world – or at least on another continent – such extravagance can now be put on your driveway for just £16k. You want sideways action, too? No problem.

Find a Vauxhall VXR8 on PistonHeads


Tales of Ruppert’s garage: 

Land Rover Series 3 - Mileage: 128,724:  You’d have thought that after spending a fairly substantial but quite reasonably documented sum on the Lorry’s restoration, the windscreen wipers would have been replaced. Surely, they would cost about a quid. Well, with my trade discount card, the tiny little things cost a measly £7.50. At the time of writing, I haven’t fitted them but am poised to. It will be dead easy.

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I also bought a set of rather more expensive rubber bits for the Volkswagen Golf because, of course, modern cars have two different sizes. We will get on to that. Meanwhile, to be roadworthy, I’ll get on with the job.

Find Land Rovers for sale on PistonHeads

A-Z Bangerpedia - S is for Saab 9000: 

European co-operation at its best. The middle section can be found on less interesting Fiat Group cars, including the Lancia Thema, but the front, tail and engine belonged to the Swedes.

Very big, spacious and well equipped. Appealed to those too snobbish for a Ford Granada and too nice for an arrogant BMW.

Cheap examples may well need ruinous repairs. But you can still get a clean and tidy 1997 2.3 CSE for £1000. Be warned, though: prices are on the up.

Readers’ questions: 

Question: My father is 82 and wants to replace his elderly Toyota Yaris with a small and reliable car that has an auto ’box. Ideas? Emma Read, Bridlington

Answer: The archetypal car for this sort of work is the Honda Jazz. It’s reliable, compact outside and large and practical inside, and if he’s buying new, there’s the option of a CVT automatic gearbox. If he’s buying used, lots of them were specified with this ’box too.

Honda jazz 0

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Question: I need to transport building materials for my job. Can you recommend a large estate that’s good to drive for £15k? Ian Callow, Totnes

Answer: Two spring to mind: the Ford Mondeo Estate and Skoda Superb Estate. Both are decent to drive and offer acres of space in the back and in the boot. Your money should buy you a good 2016 example of either. 

Question: I want a convertible with adult-friendly rear seats. I have my eye on a used BMW 220d Sport at £25,000. Do you recommend anything else? Edward Butcher, Worthing

Answer: We’d look at a used Audi A3 Cabriolet for similar money. In many ways, it’s nicer to drive and be in and, if you’re going diesel, more refined.

Read more

Vauxhall VXR8 review 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class review 

Land Rover Discovery review

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