BMW 8-Series gear selector

Petrol Automatic vs Diesel Automatic

When buying a car, we are often faced with many choices that we spend hours and days agonizing over. If you have settled on an automatic car, your agony isn’t over. Do you opt for a petrol automatic car and enjoy a responsive driving experience, or do you choose a diesel automatic car for greater efficiency? Here are the key differences you should know when you are deciding between the two fuel types for your next automatic car.

Range of Options

The range of options varies greatly between petrol automatic cars and diesel automatic cars. In the affordable segment of the market that covers cars under the Rs. 10 lakh budget, only Kia, Honda, Hyundai, Tata, and Mahindra offer diesel automatic cars at this budget. On the other hand, there are far more options from more car makers at much lower price points on the petrol automatic side. The lack of diesel automatic car options at affordable price points makes petrol automatic cars the more accessible choice for those buying their first car or making the transition to an automatic car.

As an example the cheapest petrol automatic cars in India are the Datsun Redi-Go AMT at Rs. 4.95 lakh (ex-showroom) and the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso AMT at Rs. 5.19 lakh. In comparison, the cheapest diesel automatic car you can buy is the Honda Amaze Diesel CVT at Rs. 11.26 lakh (ex-showroom).

Honda-Amaze
Honda Amaze is the only car in India offering a diesel engine with a CVT gearbox

When it comes to automatic transmission options, petrol automatics offers more affordable car options as you can find Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), Torque Converter automatic, Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT or DSG), and even Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) in mass market petrol automatic cars. Mass market diesel cars are limited to AMT or torque converter automatic transmissions, while DCT and CVT diesel automatic cars are fairly less common than their petrol counterparts.

Cost

As aforementioned, diesel automatic cars are costlier since they are harder to manufacture. The higher torque output of diesel engines requires more advanced materials and engineering to be able to handle the higher stresses. This of course increases the cost of a diesel automatic car well above that of a petrol automatic car. For instance, the difference between the petrol and diesel automatic variants of the Honda Amaze is Rs. 2.1 lakh. This is significant enough to factor into the buying decision.

As is the case with manual transmission cars, the maintenance cost of diesel automatic cars is higher than that of petrol automatic cars. This is one of the primary reasons for the higher demand for petrol automatic cars. For example, in Delhi, the service cost of a Honda Amaze petrol CVT after 5 years is estimated at Rs. 5,343 while for the diesel CVT, it is estimated at Rs. 7,338.

Hyundai Grand i10 Nios
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios: Only hatchback in India offering a diesel engine with automatic transmission.

Mileage

In terms of mileage, diesel cars have always been far ahead of petrol cars, and this is true with automatic transmissions as well. With that said, it’s also worth noting that the difference between a petrol automatic and a diesel automatic is smaller compared to the difference between manual petrol and diesel cars.

Reliability

The reliability of an automatic car is more dependent on the automatic gearbox itself rather than the fuel type of the car. The automotive industry has progressed significantly to improve overall reliability of all automatic transmissions and should last the lifespan of the vehicle with regular care. In terms of reliability, both petrol and diesel automatic cars should be similar, if maintained regularly.

FAQs

In India, which types of the automatic transmission are available with diesel engines?

The types of automatic transmissions available with diesel engines in India are Automated Manual Transmission, Torque Converter Automatic, and Continuous Variable Transmission (Honda Amaze only).

In India, which types of the automatic transmission are available with petrol engines?

The types of automatic transmissions available with petrol engines in India are Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), Torque Converter automatic, Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT or DSG).

Which are the hatchbacks available in India with diesel automatic powertrains?

The Hyundai Grand i10 Nios is the only hatchback in India, which offers a diesel engine with automatic transmission.

Is DCT automatic transmission available with any diesel-powered car in India?

No, the dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is not available with any diesel-powered car in India.

What is better suitable for city driving, petrol automatic or diesel automatic?

For city usage, a petrol automatic car is a considerably better option than a diesel automatic car, as city driving requires frequent gear shifting which can be relatively problematic in diesel automatic cars.

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