Sunday 20 October 2019

Why diesel isn't dead ... and how it's got years left in the tank

Stock image
Stock image
Peugeot 5008 SUV seven-seater
Peugeot 5008 SUV seven-seater
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

TOYOTA say diesel has had its day. Their ad says simply: "Diesel is dead". Toyota sell a lot of petrol and petrol-hybrid cars.

Peugeot say diesel is NOT dead. Not by a long shot.

If it is dead, they ask, how come Toyota are using Peugeot diesel engines (1.6-litre and 2-litre) in their PROACE van range?

Peugeot sell a lot of diesel and petrol cars and vans.

The opposing viewpoints are shaped by different products and visions of immediate as well as longer-term trends.

And they came into sharp focus this week when, by any standards, Toyota's claim got a serious shaking by Colin Sheridan, sales and marketing director at Gowan Distributors, who import Peugeots.

Mr Sheridan, highly respected within the industry, fired the withering broadside at the launch of his company's new (Peugeot) 5008 SUV seven-seater.

The new car has, among other engines, a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel (no, it doesn't have a hybrid - not yet anyway).

Peugeot 5008 SUV seven-seater
Peugeot 5008 SUV seven-seater
Peugeot 5008 SUV seven-seater

Diesel, Mr Sheridan argued, remains hugely important - vital even - for those living in rural areas and for anyone doing 15,000kms a year.

Petrol is fine for city dwellers and those doing under 15,000kms, he said.

Then he fired another broadside. He claimed the taxes we pay on new diesel and petrol vehicles (an average of €8,000 to €9,000) are subsidising the rebates and grants on hybrids and electric vehicles.

His argument, and tone, were those of someone calling a reality check.

Sure, he said, there will be and should be a drift to electrification. That is the way of things. But there are major, and key, roles to be played - for eminently practical reasons - by both diesel and petrol for a long time yet.

Do you think diesel is dead? Let us know.

There has been a shift to petrol from diesel, Mr Sheridan said. There has also, I can report, been a shift from diesel to hybrid.

Petrol is coming back because a lot of people bought diesel after our swing to emissions-related taxation in 2008 made it attractive.

But many owners are only doing 8,000-10,000kms a year. Now they're switching because modern petrol engines are much more efficient. And cars with such powerplants are €2,000 or so less expensive than diesel. Horses for courses (as I say somewhere most weeks). And the diesel horse, Mr Sheridan would insist, has many a Grand National left to run.

And so to the car. The key engines in the 5008 SUV are the 1.2-litre 130bhp petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel. I drove the petrol for a while down to the Curragh. It had plenty of power and enough poke for most people's needs. The diesel, which I drove abroad earlier this year, is for longer journeys and can be impressively frugal.

The old 5008 was a people carrier. This looks and feels like a large SUV. Its core rivals are the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq seven-seaters, with the likes of the KIA Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fé possibly in the reckoning at the top end of the market.

Prices start from €29,345 for the 1.2 130bhp PureTech petrol.

The rear of the three rows of seats can be removed in an instant - for those who need space more frequently than passenger accommodation.

I'm a fan of their ingenious iCockpit (compact steering wheel, 12.3ins head-up digital instrument panel, 8ins touchscreen, multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and 3 x 12V sockets).

I'm also a fan of their policy of having a spare wheel as standard (all except GT versions).

They say there has also been a significant pick-up in numbers buying an automatic - due in some measure to commuting in heavy traffic - as well as increased petrol buying.

The new motor is the same height as before (1.64m) but third row passengers get 21mm more headroom and the 11cm stretch to 4.64m means more room for all (second row passengers get 6cm more knee room).

Critically, the middle row has three ISOFIX points. The seats fold and tilt and slide forward for third-row access. With the third row out, boot capacity goes to 1,060 litres.

There are five trim levels: Access, Active, Allure, GT Line and GT.

The 1.2-litre petrol comes with 6spd manual or automatic transmission.

Same transmissions for the 1.6-litre and 2-litre diesels, with power from 100bhp all the way to 180bhp.

Standard equipment includes the iCockpit, cruise control, 17ins steel wheels, electric windows, electric/heated door mirrors, 'intelligent' speed adaptation, driver attention alert, retractable/ removable boot cover, auto air con.

Active adds 17ins alloys, electric parking brake with hill assist, auto headlamps and wipers, front fogs, dual zone air con, advanced emergency braking with front collision warning, rear parking sensors (180 degree reversing camera), aeroplane trays on back of first-row seats, retractable/hidden blinds on row 2, aluminium roof bars, Mirrorscreen (Apple Car Play, Android Auto and mirror link).

Allure adds 18ins alloys, driver seat lumbar adjustment, blind spot detection, lane keeping assistance, advanced driver attention alert, front parking aid.

GT Line has LED fogs with cornering function, panoramic opening sunroof, park assist, smartphone charging plate, twin-exhaust effect trim.

And range-topping GT 2-litre diesel automatics have 3D navigation, voice recognition, driver seat 8-way electric adjustment, heated front seats, leather seat trim.

Irish Independent

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