Rapid calculations pose major question over true cost of diesel
SKODA is using the arrival of its new compact family saloon, the Rapid, to raise a serious question about the real cost of buying diesels.
The Rapid just went on sale with prices starting at €15,995 before delivery and related charges are added.
I drove this earlier in the year and the big attraction is the amount of cabin room it has.
That explains why Skoda is emphasising that this is a family car at a reasonable price.
There are three different spec levels, you can choose manual or automatic transmissions and there are five engines.
Petrol engines include the 1.2 MPI (75bhp), and turbocharged 1.2 and 1.4 TSI (ranging from 86bhp to 122bhp).
The diesel is the 1.6-litre TDI (105bhp).
It and the 1.2 TSI (86bhp) are in the €160 road tax band with the remaining engines in Band B.
Skoda expects the 1.6-litre diesel to be by far the most popular but they are 'aggressively' pricing the petrols.
They make the argument that people buy diesels to benefit from lower road tax and fuel savings than usually is the case with petrols.
Sure you -- again usually -- pay a premium for the diesel when buying but hope to get that and more back in lower running costs.
Now Skoda is asking: how long will it take to achieve these savings?
It gives the example of the Rapid 1.2 TSI (86bhp). Like the diesel it is in Band A emissions and, according to its figures, uses 0.7litres more per 100km than the diesel.
Then Skoda gets out the calculators.
And that's where the debate is really joined. Here's what it says:
"Using today's fuel prices it would take 14 years for a diesel version to justify and recoup the savings on fuel alone. This really brings petrol back into the equation."
It may well be that it suits Skoda to raise this question given the profile of engines in the Rapid. But even if that is the case, and I'm not saying it is, their figures are now out there. If someone else wants to challenge them, then let them do so, but my goodness -- 14 years.
There is now no doubt that we have become extremely fond of diesel engines and the perception is widespread that this is the only way to go.
Not enough has been made of the argument, reignited by Skoda, that petrol technology has come on in leaps and bounds. As a fan of diesel, I have been a bit biased perhaps but I do know and have come to recognise more and more that there are some excellent petrols out there.
Anyway, back to the Rapid.
Skoda is claiming it has class-leading passenger leg and head room, with 550 litres of luggage space.
A couple of nice touches include a high-visibility vest under the front driver seat and an ice scraper inside the fuel tank flap.
Standard safety equipment includes ESP, ABS systems, six airbags (including curtain airbags).
• Let me know what you think of Diesel v Petrol at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear what you have to say.