Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid or Electric? Which is best for me?

Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid or Electric? Which is best for me?


20 years ago it was a simple choice, Petrol or Diesel. Now there are nearly 10 different fuel types to choose from, including Petrol hybrids, Diesel hybrids, Plug-in hybrids, and more. Each one has benefits and drawbacks depending on usage.  

Buying the wrong type could result in higher fuel costs, reduced practicality and even untimely repair bills. This guide will shed light on each individual fuel type, and highlight their best use cases.  


The one everyone is familiar with, and arguably the simplest out of all of them in terms of mechanical complexity and cost.  In its basic form, petrol is burnt inside the engine to create mechanical power.  

The lack of various components when compared to diesels, such as Diesel particulate filters, exhaust gas recirculation valves, dual mass flywheels, turbochargers and more means there are simply fewer parts to go wrong.  

Petrol cars typically don’t do as many miles to the gallon as diesels, though, and petrol itself is quite high in cost per kW compared to electric, although less so than Diesel.  

Although the ULEZs (Ultra Low Emission Zones) currently still permit most petrol cars without charge, there are plans to cease the manufacture of petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.

Great for: 

  • Low average mileage  
  • Short journeys 
  • City driving* 
  • Remote locations with little charging infrastructure 

*ULEZ rule changes permitting 

Not great for: 

  • Lots of miles due to poor economy 
  • Environmental impact 
  • Higher tax 


Diesel engine cars became popular in the early 2000s, this was mainly due to advancements in turbocharger and fueling technologies, allowing smaller diesel engines to compete (and exceed) petrol cars in fuel economy whilst still being powerful. 

Economy figures upwards of 60MPG can be seen from many common examples, even large vehicles such as VW Passats. Many people favour the power delivery of diesels and prefer driving them. 

Since the 2000s many systems have been developed to help achieve these high performance and economy figures whilst lowering emissions. These include Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs), Exhaust gas recirculation valves and high-performing turbos.  

Great for: 

  • High mileage  
  • Long trips on motorways or rural areas 
  • Remote locations with little charging infrastructure 

Not great for: 

  • Short journeys - cause blocked DPFs 
  • Environmental impact 
  • Higher tax 

Self Charging Hybrid 

Toyota took the world by storm when they released the first generation Prius Hybrid. It achieved extremely high fuel economy through a combination of petrol and electric power usage. 

Since then, almost every auto manufacturer has at least one hybrid in their range, from two-door sports cars, family saloons to pickup trucks and commercial vehicles. It’s clear they’re popular with the public, but what actual benefits do they offer? 

It’s important to note, that there are many different types of hybrids, including parallel systems, mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and more. All of these can be offered too, with either a petrol or diesel engine. 

Self-Charging Hybrids have a battery and motor system that is powered both by the combustion engine and regenerative braking. The basic premise is that both engine and motor can provide power to the wheels, but are only used in the best conditions for each. 

When pulling away, the motor will do most of the work, once up to speed, the petrol engine will directly drive the wheels the majority of the time. The car splits power from the engine and electric generator as and when required to keep the batteries topped up.  

The benefit of this system is that fuel economy is greatly improved, both due to optimisation of the power types, and regaining otherwise lost energy when braking. 

Great for: 

  • Town and city driving 
  • Long journeys through towns/constant short trips 
  • Remote locations with little charging infrastructure 

Not great for: 

  • Long motorway journeys 
  • Longevity due to battery tech 

Plug-in Hybrids 

PHEV cars use similar tech to self-charging hybrids, but do not contain a generator to allow the combustion engine to top up the battery. Most still make use of regenerative braking due to this being performed by the already present electric motor. 

In terms of user experience, they are a bit different to both conventional hybrids and internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, in that you are required to both fill up with fossil fuel, as well as charge them from the grid.  

Many PHEV systems offer a mode whereby they operate on electric power only. With ranges usually sub 40 miles, it can be the perfect vehicle for someone with a sub-20-mile commute, where midweek, no petrol would be consumed at all - as long as it can be charged each night.  

The petrol or diesel engine allows extended journeys without needing to plan in charging stops, which can be an issue with electric-only vehicles. This is not their ideal scenario, however, as once the battery power is depleted, the combustion engine now has to carry the extra weight of the empty batteries and motor.  

Great for: 

  • City driving 
  • Short commutes but occasional long drives 
  • Remote locations with little charging infrastructure 

Not great for: 

  • Higher annual mileage 
  • Motorway driving 

Electric Vehicles 

Electric vehicles have been around for many years, but fairly recent advancements in battery and motor technology have allowed for much better range, and even better performance figures.  

Charge at home, or at a service station, and an electric motor converts the stored energy into propulsion. EVs are fairly simple mechanically, but as their adoption is still not widespread, you may find independent repairers few and far between, and spare parts will be costly.  

Electric vehicles have the obvious advantage of not needing fossil fuels. An old argument used to be that the energy is still generated using coal and oil, but in 2021 over 40% of the energy produced in the UK was from renewable sources.  

This makes EVs a much more environmentally friendly option. Another benefit is the lack of air pollution added to towns and cities, which is sure to help with the quality of life in years to come.  

They do have their downsides, though. Retail prices are still at least 30% higher than combustion-engined equivalents, although that is reducing year on year as manufacturing tech improves. 

If the initial purchase price is not an issue, if you lease your cars for example, then the main benefit to EVs is their cost to run. Even with 2022’s elevated energy prices, it will still typically only cost £8 to fully charge a typical EV. 

Assuming a range of approximately 250 miles, that makes fueling your car around 8x cheaper than a diesel doing 40 miles to the gallon. Over a yearly mileage of 15,000 miles, this could result in savings of up to £2,000. 

Great for: 

  • Any journey length (as long as you have a charger network local) 
  • Reducing carbon emissions 
  • Low Vehicle Emissions Duty (AKA road tax) 

Not great for: 

  • High upfront cost 
  • Long journeys in remote areas 

No matter what type of car you drive, Bumper is the ideal partner to help spread the cost of servicing and repairs, completely interest-free! 

To spread the cost and find a dependable local dealership or garage near you. Enter your registration and postcode on our website. 

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