To Diesel, or not to Diesel?

Story by Jeremy Chua, pictures by Azfar Hashim
3 Nov 2008

The lure of cheaper fuel cost and better fuel economy may entice people to buy a diesel car but there are some things that you ought to know, before you commit yourself to one

We all know the benefits of diesel engines.  With gobs of torque available from low rpm, they’ve got serious pulling power.  Then there’s the frugality factor.  Most drivers are aware that a tankful of diesel goes way further compared to a full tank of petrol.  And diesel engines have come a long way: They’re no longer the smoke-belching, foul-smelling, noisy beasts of decades past.

So should you opt for a diesel-powered car in Singapore?  Diesel is cheaper, but a diesel car commands a premium over its petrol sibling.  There’s also a special tax rate (read: more expensive) for diesel cars.

Oneshift weighed in on the debate, and using a bit of math, figured out just how far you’d need to drive to recoup the additional costs of owning a diesel car.

Test subject
For this theoretical exercise, we shall use the Volkswagen Polo 1.4 (the petrol version) and Polo BlueMotion (the diesel version).  Both cars are available in Singapore and have almost the same 1.4 litre engine displacement (1,422cc for the diesel), making them ideal candidates for this exercise.  They also have the same 45 litre fuel tank capacity.
We will take into consideration the road tax, car prices and fuel prices only. For the purpose of this illustration, we will assume that insurance, servicing cost and other what-nots are the same. The test will also be calculated on the assumption that the car will be used for the whole 10 years.


Volkswagen Polo 1.4

Polo BlueMotion

Price: $65,800

Price: $85,800

Power: 80hp @ 5000rpm

Power: 80hp @ 5000rpm
Torque: 132Nm @ 3800rpm

Torque: 195Nm @ 1800rpm
0-100kmh: 12.2 seconds

0-100km/h: 12.8 seconds
Fuel Economy: 14.5 km per litre

Fuel Economy: 25.64km per litre
(6.9 litres / 100km)

(3.9 litres / 100km)

Road Tax
Using the LTA’s road tax formula, you would pay $625.60 every year for the Polo 1.4 and $2,416 for the Polo BlueMotion.  This means that owning the BlueMotion would set you back an extra $1,790.40 annually.

Fuel Prices
Currently, 92 RON retails for $1.763/litre and diesel is selling for $1.553/litre (both prices are undiscounted).  For the purpose of this exercise, we will assume that the prices remain at these levels for an entire year.


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Engine Capacity 1390cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Bore x Stroke (76.5 x 75.6)mm
Power 80bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 132Nm @ 3800rpm
Power to Weight 75.6 bhp per ton


Acceleration 14.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 171 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 14.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 4 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3916 x 1650 x 1467) mm
Wheelbase 2466 mm
Turning Circle 5.3 metres
Kerb Weight 1058 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums


Engine Capacity 1422cc
Engine Type Inline 3
Power 80bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 195Nm @ 1800rpm
Power to Weight 73.5 bhp per ton


Acceleration 12.8s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 176 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 26.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 5 -speed Manual
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3916 x 1650 x 1467) mm
Wheelbase 2465 mm
Turning Circle 1.06 metres
Kerb Weight 1089 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums