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'Long live diesel!' Telegraph readers defend out-of-fashion cars

Woman putting diesel fuel into her car at a fuel station. North Yorkshire, UK. - Wayne HUTCHINSON / Alamy Stock Photo
Woman putting diesel fuel into her car at a fuel station. North Yorkshire, UK. - Wayne HUTCHINSON / Alamy Stock Photo

Running a diesel car is becoming increasingly punitive. Where diesel was once king, championed by politicians as the answer to battling CO2 emissions, owners are now suffering from fuel prices spiralling higher than petrol and the threat of  ever-encroaching emissions charges.

Yet Telegraph readers remain reluctant to give up their diesel motors. Though concerns were raised about the effects of older diesel engines to human health, many praised the range, reliability and affordability of their vehicles.

Read on to see what they had to say and join the discussion in the comments below.


The range and miles per gallon of a vehicle are high priority issues for car-owners. Readers who require their cars for long journeys said their diesel vehicles are unbeatable for their range and efficiency.

@Heuchter MacTeuchter said: “I recently took the diesel Jag XF to Scotland to see family and attend my daughter's masters graduation in Edinburgh.

“Roughly seven hours each way (compared to the five usually spent each way on airport transport to/from/via Heathrow), with two in the car, total cost about £100 in each direction with enough fuel to run about while we were up there, or less than £50 a leg per person.

“Try doing that trip the same day in an EV – the fact is, you can't, not without taking much longer with time out to recharge, to say nothing about the anxiety involved.”

@Christopher Mosele said he had a “2011 Passat with loads of space and can drive from Harrow to Italy across the Alps on one tank of diesel. On the way back with the boot full of wine and olive oil and 3 passengers it can get over the St Bernard pass without struggling.”

@Paul Miller said he bought a "10-year-old 2 litre VW Passat estate diesel in April with 32,000 miles on the clock for £9,000. These VW engines will go on to 200,000-plus miles. Masses of interior space and with the back seats down enough to transport my 65" Sony TV in original box no worries...and am getting 45-50 mpg...”

Health concerns

Readers were divided about the health impact of diesel vehicles compared to those with other fuels, with one reader demanding diesels be “consigned to the scrapyard”.

@Mike Machin said: “Although I’m generally very fit - I’ve completed several half marathons and 10 mile road races - I do suffer with asthma which is usually triggered by pollution. One particular attack nearly led to my death in 2015, and was the cause of my mother’s death at a very young age many years ago.

“Diesel particulates are notorious for causing or exacerbating all kinds of health conditions, including irritation of the nose and eyes, lung function and respiratory problems, pulmonary inflammation even in healthy subjects, damage to DNA and cancer. The sooner diesel vehicles are consigned to the scrapyard and the history books the better.”

But @AJ Sargent said: “As an asthmatic I am going to disagree. The most harmful particles are from the brake lining dust. I checked the air pollution monitor when I lived in Uxbridge, I was astonished to see that the most harmful pollutants weren’t from the exhaust. EV brakes are the same, this is just a big con.”

@Tim Poole pointed out the changing stances of governments: “Government in 2007: Buy diesel. Government in 2020: Don't buy diesel.

“Trouble is, many of these 2007 diesels are still rolling. They have much higher MPG and lower CO2 per mile than equivalent petrol cars. They have DPF and EGR systems - and if well maintained run clean as a whistle. Sadiq won't let them in London now though.

“Diesel was a victim of its own success and is now a victim of government failure.”

@Paul Miller added: "I agree that with the older diesels particulates concerns are justified , But I'd argue that this is only a concern in a urban/city high density living and traffic environment. In the countryside or small country town these concerns are negligible - though I wouldn't do the school run in it actually I walk instead) - long live diesel!”

‘If it ain’t broke’

Many questioned whether being pushed to replace a functioning diesel vehicle with a new one was really the greener option, due to the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 19: Crushed cars, including Audi and Volkswagen diesel EURO 4 - Alexander Koerner/Getty Images
HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 19: Crushed cars, including Audi and Volkswagen diesel EURO 4 - Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

@John Bower said: “I know many people who are planning to hang on to their perfectly good diesel 4x4s until either they or their vehicle dies. It is actually far more environmentally sustainable to keep an old car in good condition through repair and maintenance than to buy a new one and scrap the old one.”

@Queenie Cole added: “I wouldn’t say I’m a devotee of the diesel car, but I don’t believe in replacing things if they’re still working. Surely it’s better for the environment to use items until they’re falling apart rather than throwing them out and replacing them with new? I live in the area that will soon be part of the new expanded Ulez area and will simply have to suck it up. However, I will never vote for Sadiq Khan or Labour again.”

EVs remain an uncertain and expensive option

As a growing number of initiatives, such as the expansion of the Ulez, are put in place to encourage drivers to buy more environmentally-friendly vehicles, Telegraph readers remain unconvinced by electric vehicles. One reader, who owns an EV, says it will be his last.

@Lucille Barker said: “I live in a terraced house with no off- or on-street charging. I regularly ask electric car owners whilst they are sitting in their cars waiting for them to charge and the universal response has been negative. They seem to find the whole experience of electric car ownership complicated and stressful.

“I am going to keep my fab BMW for as long as I can. I am really suspicious about this electric revolution, having been misled about emissions before."

Electric car owner @Gavin Thomas said: “We have an electric Golf but it will be our last electric car. In eight years, and having covered just 47,000 miles, the range has dropped by 38% and in another 8 years, it will only be usable for short local journeys. The cost of a new battery has been quoted at £10,000.

"Also, it is now quite apparent to anyone who bothers to look, that EVs are very bad for the environment, after taking into account the enormous amounts of energy required to make the batteries.

"A petrol car is far more environmentally friendly and we will be sticking to these in the future - even if we have to retain used versions.”