Over the past few months, it has been almost impossible to open a newspaper or scroll the internet without encountering a negative opinion piece about diesels. Perhaps it all began with the emissions scandals emanating from a certain well-known German manufacturer, or maybe it is due to the push to encourage people to embrace electrical and hybrid technology.
However, when we separate the myths from the facts it becomes clear that the modern diesel engines on offer across the Ford range have plenty going for them, and are cleaner and more efficient than ever.
Here, we take an objective look at why you should give serious consideration to a diesel for your next car, and the range of diesels that the UK’s favourite manufacturer has on offer.
Diesels have always been renowned for their fuel economy, and this remains one of the top reasons for choosing this type of fuel. For example, the all new Ford Fiesta comes with a choice of a 1.1-litre petrol engine or a 1.5-litre diesel engine. The 1.1-litre petrol engine, in the style or zetec variant, returns a very creditable 64mpg. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is over 37 percent more fuel efficient, returning an astonishing 86mpg.
Similar patterns emerge elsewhere in the range. Take a look at the Ford Kuga SUV. The 1.5-litre Zetec petrol engine returns 45mpg, while this figure increases to 59mpg for the diesel version. How about the nation’s most popular car, the Ford Focus? Here, we see a similar trend, with the 1.0-litre petrol engine returning 60mpg compared with an impressive 74mpg from the 1.5-litre diesel engine.
Of course, the above might not come as much of a surprise. Diesels have always been more economical, but isn’t there a price to pay in terms of performance? Anybody who believes so clearly has not driven a diesel car in a while.
For a fair comparison, let’s look at those same three cars again, but this time examining the 0 - 62mph performance figures. For the all-new Fiesta, the diesel engine is the clear winner, getting there 2.4 seconds faster than the petrol engine equivalent (12.5 seconds compared with 14.9). For the Kuga, it’s almost a dead heat, with 9.7 seconds for the petrol engine compared with 9.9 seconds for the diesel engine. And finally, for the Focus, it is also close but the diesel wins by half a second (12.0 compared with 12.5). As you can see, across the range, the diesel engine has the edge over petrol in terms of performance.
If there is no major performance difference, perhaps the disadvantages of a diesel engine come down to environmental factors? The fact is that over the past 20 years more investment has been ploughed into diesel technology to make it more environmentally friendly than any other area.
Modern diesels use the latest in particulate filters and other innovative technologies, which have resulted in a 99 percent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions. The good news does not stop there. Similar research and developments regarding the fuel itself have led to the ultra-low sulphur diesel that we see at filling stations today, resulting in lower soot and CO2 emissions.
Better performance, increased efficiency and reduced emissions. So what is it exactly that has the mass media rallying against diesels? There is no simple answer, and it really comes down to a number of factors. First and foremost, the old saying about not letting the truth get in the way of a good story comes in to play. The scandal we mentioned at the beginning was a journalist’s dream, and anything related to fossil fuels always makes a good story.
There is also a less cynical rationale at work here, though, and that is the wish to drive customers towards the evolving electric and hybrid technologies.
Make no mistake, electric cars are an increasingly viable option and they have received heavy investment for further development. It could well be the case that in 20 years time, they will have surpassed petrol and diesel. However, that is certainly not the case today. While they provide a great city option, the severely limited range of mileage means that there is still some way to go.
In the meantime, diesel engines continue to develop and become cleaner, faster and more efficient. A case in point is the 2.0 TDCi engine found in the new Ford Edge range. It has two power options, both of which incorporate cutting edge technology to provide the optimum performance and economy, with minimal emissions.
The above fuel efficiency figures are quoted by 3rd parties are were correct at the time of publishing this article.