Volvo V50: Diesel v petrol

Cost-effective diesel

There has been much debate recently over the cost of diesel cars and the premium paid at the pumps.

It has been the case that higher costs associated with diesel have almost negated a fuel consumption advantage over an equivalent petrol model.

Using the Parker's Petrol-v-Diesel calculator shows how long it would take to recoup any premium paid on a diesel model (www.parkers.co.uk/cars/petrol-vs-diesel/).

At the time of writing, the average price of diesel in the UK is 102.8p per litre, while unleaded is 95.7p.

This extra 7.1p is little more than half the typical 13p premium on a litre of diesel in autumn 2008.

My Volvo V50 2.0D R Design is £810 more expensive than the 2.0-litre petrol version with the same equipment grade.

This is a modest amount compared with many cars, particularly those wearing premium badges.

For example, the Touring version of the BMW 318d M Sport would cost £2715 more than the 318i model in the same specification.

This combination of a modest premium for the diesel version as well as a 7p-per-litre higher cost at the pumps means my Volvo would regain the £810 extra paid for diesel after 47,293 miles.

Choosing a diesel Volvo would pay its way for anyone covering an average of 16,000 miles a year, assuming they plan to keep the car for three years.

By comparison, the BMW would take more than 226,000 miles to recoup its more substantial premium over the petrol model.

Current mileage: 4237

Average mpg: 44.8