Diesel cars have come under plenty of scrutiny lately, especially with the never-ending political finger pointing for the nation’s poor air quality levels.
With surcharges soon to be enforced and more set to come to discourage people from using them in built-up areas, diesel cars have fallen from grace with buyers, with registrations plummeting in recent months.
As a result, dealers are starting to accumulate too much stock and are now offering substantial discounts on new ‘clean’ diesels – so much so that they’re working out cheaper to buy than an equivalent model with a petrol engine.
But would you take the gamble on one?
Diesel decisions: The latest diesel cars on sale aren’t subject to inner-city surcharges (as yet), so would you take a gamble on buying one now that motor dealers are offering discounts than make them cheaper than a comparable petrol?
Savings of more than £5,000 are available on 2017 diesel cars, including the BMW 3 Series, Audi A3 Cabriolet, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Ford S-Max.
In many cases, the savings are double those available on a petrol alternative, according to online buying site BuyaCar.co.uk.
It’s because sellers have had to slash the price of diesels in response to a significant drop in demand as diesels are being primarily held to blame for inner city pollution problems.
Health scares, talk of tax rises and planned inner-city surcharges have all led to drivers avoiding diesel and opting for an alternative petrol, electric or hybrid cars.
According to the latest official car registration figures provided by the SMMT, diesel sales are 10 per cent behind last year by the end of June.
That accounts for around 67,000 fewer diesels sold in the first six months compared to 2016 stats, while petrol and alternative-fuel vehicle sales are racking ahead by 5.2 and 21.5 per cent respectively.
A This is Money poll of more than 5,000 readers found that just 37 per cent of people intend to buy a diesel car next, while 43 per cent will choose an unleaded.
The remaining 20 per cent will opt for either an electric or hybrid vehicle.
This flight from diesels now means that many oil burner cars are being offered at cheaper prices than an equivalent petrol for the first time.
Some buyers are snapping up new pre-registered models, which have less than 100 miles on the clock, and pocketing enormous savings as a result, but run the risk of future levies and loss in value if the government looks to extend charges to the latest models.
The car buying site said huge savings are being offered on new cars that fully comply with the latest emissions regulations (which came into force in September 2015) and are exempt from London’s T-Charge that comes into force in October and next year’s Ultra Low Emissions Zones.
However, they still run the risk of being hit by tax add-ons promised by Chancellor Phillip Hammond in the last Budget statement and cost more to park in certain parts of the capital.
Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: ‘Many car buyers are panicking about the costs that face diesel drivers, and are switching to petrol cars.
‘But this situation is an opportunity for drivers who are prepared to look beyond the scare stories.’
DIESELS WITH MEATY DISCOUNTS THAT MAKE THEM CHEAPER THAN – OR AS CHEAP AS – A PETROL
Model: 0.9 TwinAir Lounge (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £14,615
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg*): £11,989
Saving: £2,626 (18%)
Model: 1.3 Multijet Lounge (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £15,865
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £11,969
Saving: £3,896 (25%)
BMW 3 SERIES
Model: 320i M Sport Auto (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £32,940
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £29,895
Saving: £3,045 (9%)
Model: 320d M Sport Auto (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £35,610
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £30,000
Saving: £5,610 (16%)
Model: Titanium 1.5 EcoBoost (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £28,345
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £23,990
Saving: £4,355 (15%)
Model: Titanium 2.0 TDCI (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £29,895
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £22,995
Saving: £6,900 (23%)
CITROEN C3 PICASSO
Model: 1.2 PureTech Platinum (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £18,135
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £11,700
Saving: £6,435 (35%)
Model: 1.6 BlueHDI Platinum (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £19,180
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £11,200
Saving: £7,980 (42%)
Model: 1.4 TSI SE Nav DSG (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £22,395
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £20,000
Saving: £2,395 (11%)
Model: 1.6 TDI SE Nav DSG (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £23,480
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £19,000
Saving: £4,480 (19%)
Model: 1.2 TCe Signature Nav (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £23,675
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £21,450
Saving: £2,225 (9%)
Model: 1.6 dCi Signature Nav (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £26,815
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £19,742
Saving: £7,073 (26%)
Model: 1.2 DiG-T 115 N-Vision (petrol)
Manufacturer price: £24,145
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £18,795
Saving: £5,350 (22%)
Model: 1.5 dCi 110 N-Vision (diesel)
Manufacturer price: £25,885
BuyaCar.co.uk price (pre-reg): £18,995
Saving: £6,860 (27%)
*BuyaCar.co.uk price based on nearly new 2017 cars with less than 100 miles on the clock
Audi is offering bigger discounts to buyers one of its A3 diesel cars than petrol versions.
If you take out finance on the A3 Sportback, you’ll save at least £1,080, but the equivalent diesel qualifies for a £2,080 saving.
The petrol A3 Cabriolet comes with at least £5,000 off when you take out finance; the diesel comes with a £5,800 saving, BuyaCar.co.uk said.
But the largest reductions tend to come with cars that have been pre-registered by dealers.
A 2017 diesel-powered BMW 320d M Sport automatic, that had covered just five miles, was listed on BuyaCar.co.uk for £30,000 – a discount of £5,610 over the manufacturer’s price.
An equivalent petrol 320i M Sport automatic was reduced by considerably less – just £3,045.
BuyaCar.co.uk said it doesn’t expect to see the death of diesel any time soon, but there’s no doubting that even the newest of diesel cars are being avoided by buyers
Collins added: ‘Despite the concerns over diesel, the latest models are much less of a risk because they comply with the latest emissions regulations, which means that they won’t face the same inner-city surcharges as older cars.
‘And, as most buyers take out PCP finance, which guarantees the value of the car at the end of the agreement, there won’t be any unexpected bills if the value of diesel cars continues to drop.
‘If you’re in the market for a bigger car, or cover high-mileages, then an efficient diesel makes sense.
‘There are plenty of new and pre-registered cars that are in stock and ready for delivery, with enormous discounts.
‘We don’t expect to see the death of diesel at any time in the near future.’
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING