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Hybrid vs Diesel vs Petrol #1

I was disappointed by the article written by Julian Edgar on the diesel vs hybrid situation.

While it was generally balanced, he made some serious misstatements, as well as leaving factors out I the selection process.

Diesel Pollution: He made ther statement diresel are polluters, no matter what.   In the US, the passenger diesels (and by 2010 the trucks as well) have to match gasoline engine pollution levels. At this point, any new car brought into the US has to meet a 45  state level, and they all have gone to the so called California  emisons (California and 4 other states use those standard).   Those levels are lower than the EPA specifies.   VW, Mercedes and Audi will meet the 50 states limits.

Size:   Not everyone can fit into a given size car.   Small cars are out for my wife, she simply cannot fit into anything smaller than the 2005 size Passat (which changed size after that year, as did the Jetta of that year which we tried and was simply too small)

Comfort Ride and Handling:   While the economy is an issue, how the car rides, hanldes and the safety features are extremely important.

Safety:   The VW has excellent safety ratings as well as more air bags than I can count.

Auto vs Manual:   Not every one can drive a manual (physical limitations in our case).

Our choice in this debate was to go to a VW Passat Turbo Diesel Station wagon to replace a SUV.   The Passat was the only vehicle that had a diesel, an automatic and was large enough for my wifes comfort (and myself as well frankly) that we could still do most of what the SUV did cargo wise.

My wife has driven a friends hybrid (Prius) and both agreed that it was ok, but it was not up to the comfort levels nor as fun to drive as the VW (or close types).

And I will also say, that the VW TDI has plenty of get up and go, so there is really no compromise there.   We average 7.35 l/100km in town and 5.6 L/100km on the highway.   That’s very good with no compromises in a diesel with an automatic trany.

Greg Schmitz
United States

We didn’t say “diresel are polluters, no matter what”. What we said was: “Diesels, intrinsically, have higher polluting levels of oxides of nitrogen and particulates. The latest diesels are vastly better in these regards, but they still struggle against the quality of petrol engine emissions, let alone hybrid emissions. Band-aids such as the widely-billed Mercedes BlueTec treatments are all well and good, but the emissions road for diesels is still steeply uphill.” We stand by that statement.

Hybrid vs Diesel vs Petrol #2

Damn. The article is short on facts. You just brushed off the petrol engine. A Jazz can do 4.5l/100km. If that was a debate then it is a poor quality one at that. What was the conclusion?

The hybrid is a wanky car. What happens to all those batteries do you think? They become a toxic waste. Where do we put all those thousands of huge batteries? In landfill? What is green about that!  Pttttffff.

So what should I buy if I have to spend $40000 on a new car? Maybe I should buy an old Jazz and the rest of the money buy solar panels to put on my roof. They, the solar panels, last 25 years at least.

My 3 cents. (Inflation)

Patrick Feng

In any situation where a Jazz can achieve 4.5 litres/100, a similar size diesel or hybrid will do much better. And where, precisely, are all those hybrid batteries in landfill? As one Prius enthusiast said on a discussion group: tell me where they are so I can go dig them up! In other words, recycling and repacking will see few or any go to landfill.

Hybrid vs Diesel vs Petrol #3

I read this article with an open mind and am somewhat puzzled by a couple of comments.

Mazda, like all manufacturers actually charge a significant premium for their diesels - Petrol Hatch $33K, Petrol Wagon $34K, diesel Hatch 35K, diesel Wagon $38K - so how long does it take to repay that difference using just fuel savings - figure on about 70-100,000 kms at current fuel costs. This doesn't take into account the dearer servicing costs either!. So at end of life assuming similar depreciation there is still around $2000 in fuel savings that you have to find - work out the ks required to be travelled to save this 5.9l/100 vs 8.8l/100 leaves a difference of 2.9l/100

The idea that environmental decisions are assessed solely by financials (in this case, payback time) hasn’t been current since at least the 1980s. The story used the cars I own as examples: none was bought on the basis of a payback period on fuel savings.

Performance is similar so again think you might be reading wrong data? As you know our motoring companies are a little coy with performance data but I think you will find thers not much in it.

Lets take an intangible - at what cost are the replacement batteries to the environment, you say that Toyota are replacing them as is Honda - what of the old batteries and the chemicals, lead etc that these discarded batteries hold. Needless to say the additional cost and inconvenience to have to have them replaced, both personally and cost t the company. On same thread what extra cost do these cars cost to develop and build against conventional vehicle – that is what is total carbon footprint per manufactured vehicle?

Your conclusion states " (I think that conventional petrol engine cars are now right out of the race for economy and emissions.)" yet in opening paragraphs you state "Diesels, intrinsically, have higher polluting levels of oxides of nitrogen and particulates. The latest diesels are vastly better in these regards, but they still struggle against the quality of petrol engine emissions, let alone hybrid emissions." so contradicting your own argument.

Not at all. We identified which pollutants diesels have difficulty with – oxides of nitrogen and particulates – but in terms of what is now the most important emission – CO2 – the lower fuel consumption of diesels gives them an advantage over petrol engine cars.

The statement "What people might believe they are saying is that, in the same vehicle and with the same power, a diesel will give better country road results than a hybrid. That may in fact be the case... except we don’t currently have cars that fit those criteria." contradicts many a word of previous autospeed articles that power is not only factor, torque and how these numbers are developed play a crutial role in how a vehicle drives and I believe has a direct impact on fuel economy. Car with good low down torque doesn't need>    to work as hard to get to speed thus potentially using less fuel as a car developing less torque at higher revs needing more energy to produce similar amount of work. The closest comparable I can think of at moment is say a VW 2.0 TFSI and 2.0 TDI same sweep volume different power and torque - but achieve vastly different results in performance and fuel economy, throw in the 1.6 TSFSI and argument becomes even more blurred.

Sure – we should have said ‘average power through the most used rev range’ but that’s a bit clumsy isn’t it?

You brag about your insights economy yet how practical is it for daily family commuting. That is a driver and two kids to school – normal stuff done by millions each day around the world.

It’s my car – and it suits this family’s commuting very well.

You'd have to make two trips so even at 3.0l/100, two trips make it really 6l/100 so not as flash as initially thought - not to mention time lost,  irresponsible parenting with leaving a child at home on their own  etc, etc And this is only using the best economy you've achieved.   Hell we have a Liberty 3.0 R-B and I've done a trip with 6.6l/100 as average but that doesn't tell real story of 10.2-10.4 as being our real normal average over 35000+ kms

The Insight averages high Threes in winter use, low Fours in summer use with the air con running continuously.

Whilst I don't dismiss the technologies outright I think your ownership of said vehicles makes you perhaps least qualified to be objective. Yes I know you've had a range of "conventional" cars as well (you can see how long I've been a subscriber as reference to this) how ever I think your being overly dismissive about the pros and cons of said technologies with out considering all green impacts and for that matter some of the inaccuracies throughout your article.

Simon Brown

Hybrid vs Diesel vs Petrol #4

The REAL winner [always take not of what taxi drivers use, no matter where u are in the world] Is the AUSSIE made fuel..............L P G. Stand up and be counted LPG, cleanest, cheapest, local-made = WINNER

Michael Pasturi

Update Needed

You definitely need to update your HOW-TO article, DIRTY AIR FILTER WARNING, as well as POWERING UP THE PRESSURE SWITCH and any other articles that use the Micro Pneumatic Logic switches, especially the newer ones, aka MP-500 series.

If anyone, like myself, is using one of the newer switches, then the instructions MUST be changed in the articles. These switches come with blade terminals that can most easily accommodate bayonet-style slide terminals -- there is no need to take the switch apart and solder any leads to it.

Also, if users are not going to use the switch to power heavy loads, like in the case of the Dirty Filter Warning, then they can use a low-power LED and a penlight battery (one or more AA or AAA batteries) as the power source.

Ronald Polland
United States

Intake Modification Relevance

I'm a big fan of your magazine and I love all your fantastic, in-depth technical articles. Recently I've been enjoying your intake experiments - but I often wonder how relevant these articles are to the type of people who own these particular cars.

I wish you could do an article like this with something more geared toward the performance market. I personally own a MkV Golf GTI, and currently there is much debate amongst members on whether a forced induction car would even benefit from a "cold air" intake. The general consensus seems to be that these "filters on a stick" are there more for looks and noise, as opposed to any real performance gains.

Anyway, it would be nice if we could see some of these articles aimed at (I believe) drivers who would more likely be interested in these types of modifications to improve their cars. Just my .02c.

Steve C.

The intake modification and testing techniques that we have shown are able to be done on all cars, at little cost, by anyone. It’s up to you to apply those techniques to the cars of your choice.

No More Disjointed Individuals

I do not normally write to magazine editors, but I am doing so this time because I seriously believe that the current narrow-minded attitude that the government shows towards reducing the road toll through bullish enforcing speeding related offences is not only short sighted, but moraly wrong. You know something is wrong when the majority of people are classed as "criminals" by the authorities! The current climate is one of restlessness on behalf of both enthusiasts and regular motorists alike and I believe that a large enough "push" from the public will cause politicians in the government to take notice, or at least be a catalyst for change.

What I propose is an industry wide movement in trying to get the public to take action, whether it is through emails, letters, or phone calls. By releasing a coordinated series of articles throughout a wide variety of interest groups, many more readers can be influenced into action where otherwise there would only be a few disjointed individuals.

Let me make it clear, that I am no way endorsing dangerous or unsafe speeds, but rather a more "mature" look at the whole issue of road safety, with pre-concieved ideas and budget left aside.

I would think that if you could include both a "template" letter to send, along with the names and addresses of all major political persons this could kick-start a movement (obviously local government officials are to numerous to mention, but perhaps you could include where to find this information).

In addition to this "template" I think it would be a good idea to forward something like this, which is very direct, and to the point:

I do believe very strongly about this issue, as there have been so many problems and mistakes on behalf of the speeding cameras/guns/etc, and so many well-documented and professional studies into the *decreased* rate of fatalities through better roads and higher motorway speed limits.

Elliott McCombe

Active Spoilers

Just wanted to add to your Cutting Edge Aerodynamics story: In 1990 VW developed a similar system on the Corrado.... An "active" rear spoiler extended automatically when the car reached 45 mph to reduce aerodynamic lift. As speed dropped below 12 mph, the spoiler retracted again."   And again in 1998 with the New Beetle: "The speed-activated rear spoiler, which comes standard with the Turbo S and other Beetle turbos, is located just above the rear hatch. The spoiler pops up when the car exceeds 45 mph and lowers when speed drops below 10 mph."

Aaron Jongbloedt
United States


I was reading your article on the evolution of the 4G63 mitsubishi motor and I believe the 4g63 turbo Starion as featured in some of your other articles precedes the Vr4 in it's use of a turbocharged 4g63 factory application. It may be a black sheep of the Mitsubishi family but not totally invisible I hope.


Vortex Generators

I have seen a few articles on aerodynamics and I found this article on the New Inventors webpage claiming it is a fuel saver.  Who know if it works, ut it looks similar to the thing on BMWs, which I have assumed is a car phone antenna.

Brian Wiese

See our four-part series that starts at Blowing the Vortex, Part 1


I think it is a pity that autospeed appears to be republishing a lot old material these days and what new content there is, is quite lame. It looks to me like there is only one person left on deck and that person is waiting for the order to turn off the light switches.

Chris U

There has been no change in 12 months in the use of old articles. We’re very happy with how AutoSpeed is currently going - perhaps you are not aware of our changes – see long-time-reader-read-this. Also: in the last blog of the year we will be covering our plans for 2008.


I was just wondering if you ever used the fuel adjuster (Jaycar) kit with your R32 GTR? If so how did it go? I don't have enough money to get a PFC or Haltech just yet. All i'm keen to do is lean out the high load mixtures down to something a bit more realistric.

Leon Weekes

The GTR was sold many years before the DFA was developed. We suggest it would work well but since the GTR has two airflow meters, you’d need two of them...

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