What's cheaper? A Holden Cruze Petrol or Diesel?

Posted by Daniel Tomlinson
Posted in

Diesel powered cars have become increasingly popular with Australians recently; with the number of diesel passenger vehicles registered increasing by a phenomenal 103 percent in the last five years. 

In Australia, diesel cars inherently have a higher purchase price than their petrol counterparts, as well as increased servicing and repair costs – however these costs are supposedly offset by superior fuel economy even though diesel can be more expensive at the pump.

So is this current fascination with oil burning cars warranted? Are the fuel savings real? Are diesels cheaper to own and run than petrol cars? Or are we all being duped by cunning marketers? 

To find out, we conducted some in-house research at Motorama Holden to see which fuel is really the low cost king over a three year period. Using the ever popular Holden Cruze Equipe 1.8 petrol auto and Equipe 2.0 Diesel auto as our economising examples, let’s split the differences to find a winner.

Round 1: Drive Away Prices

The first round goes to the petrol powered car, where it achieves a $3500 advantage right off the bat with its sharper drive away pricing.

Drive away prices:

    • Diesel-$25,990
    • Petrol-$22,490

Round 2: Servicing Costs

Doing the sums reveals that over 60,000kms, servicing both cars four times (every 15,000kms) will cost you $1340 in the diesel and $740 for the petrol Cruze. Round two for petrol power.

Capped price servicing costs: (for 3 years/60,000kms)

    • Diesel-$335
    • Petrol-$185

Round 3: Fuel Economy

If we work off the most recent average fuel prices in Brisbane; $1.59 for diesel and $1.51 for unleaded petrol, we can work out the pain for your pocket over 60,000kms of ownership. 

The diesel Cruze will use approximately 4020 litres of fuel or $6391 worth to keep moving while the petrol car will use around 4440 litres to the tune of $6704, if driven to the factory economy figures and assuming that fuel prices remain constant.

Fuel economy (combined):

    • Diesel-6.7L/100km
    • Petrol-7.4L/100km


As an overall cost of ownership figure including purchase price, a diesel Cruze Equipe will owe you $33,721 after 60,000kms of driving while for a petrol Cruze Equipe you’ll have forked out just $29,934.

So there you have it, diesel power certainly works out to be cheaper at the pump over time, saving you approximately $300, but the superior economy can’t make up for the higher initial purchase price and servicing costs – with the petrol Cruze working out nearly $4000 cheaper to own and run over 60,000kms. 

When the time comes to move on from your new car, the diesel car wins back approximately $2500 of your hard earned with a better resale value according to Redbook.com.au

Redbook states a 2011 Cruze petrol will be selling between $13,400 and $15,300 in the current market whereas a diesel model should fetch between $15,800 and $17,900. 

Overall then, including selling the car, petrol still comes out on top with a $1500 advantage. 

Verdict: Petrol is the clear winner, with diesel not working out to be anywhere near as cheap as it’s claimed to be in this mid size segment.