Time was when you’d never even look at a diesel for your upmarket off-roader. They were dirty, horrible, rattly old things, good for clambering through peat bogs and that was about it. Then the market swung the other way, and no-one in their right mind would have bought a petrol SUV because the fuel economy was crippling for everyone bar oil sheiks. But things are changing, and we’re finding customers coming into our dealership with a real dilemma – petrol or diesel for an SUV.
I always say it comes down to a straight choice. If you want a sports car that can also ferry the kids and the dog about, then petrol should be the choice. It’s all about bragging rights and perception at this end of the market, as we’re talking about £100,000 cars here. If you’re thinking of dropping that sort of money on a car, fuel economy isn’t really a concern – our customers want something that sounds great and goes even better, and for that they need a petrol. An added bonus is that the petrol pump at the fuel station always tends to be a bit cleaner.
Even if fuel economy is more of a deal-breaker, petrol is a lot less scary than it used to be thanks to all the modern technology. I run an SVR Range Rover Sport, I’ve got loads of pals who have ordered the new Velar and nearly all of them opted for the petrol. And why not? The diesel probably hovers around 28-30mpg, and the petrol will hopefully do mid-20s – there isn’t as much difference as you’d expect.
There’s always an exception that proves the rule, though: the Bentley Bentayga, for one. Thanks to a triple-charged diesel, this thing isn’t struggling for pace or refinement – is this where the technology pushes the market in the other direction again?