The 10 essential questions you need to ask before buying a car this year

The bad news from oil industry experts is that prices could continue rising, possibly passing £2 per litre for petrol, with diesel going even higher.

Dr Amrita Sen from Energy Aspects told the Commons Treasury Committee: “If you do it on the basis of crude oil, we are saying it could easily go up by $50 (£38) [a barrel], so let’s say it’s just over a 50 per cent increase.” Even taking into account the Government’s 5p per litre cut in fuel duty, that will still see it reaching about £2.30 a litre.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are many new models that claim to offer 60mpg or more. The most fuel-efficient petrol cars on the market today are the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1, returning a wallet-welcoming 58.9mpg in official tests.

If you don’t want to change your car, you could try to drive more economically. Many people are, with dealership Evans Halshaw saying searches on its website for fuel-saving driving tips have gone up by 157 per cent.

Should the high price of fuel and emissions put me off buying a diesel?

On the face of it, there aren’t many compelling reasons for buying a diesel car. The fuel cost continues to outstrip petrol, with the Commons Treasury Committee hearing prices could head towards £3 per litre.

“Diesel runs the world: the shipping lanes, the trains, the cars, everything,” said Nathan Piper, head of oil and gas research at Investec. The result is rocketing prices.

Diesel cars are also taxed more heavily than other fuel types. And the fuel has a reputation for being dirty, with its nitrogen oxide emissions polluting our cities. It wasn’t helped by the 2015 emissions scandal either.

Even so, diesel remains the most economical choice. Drive a 50mpg diesel car for 8,000 miles with diesel at 178.70p per litre and it’ll cost you £1,300. Covering the same distance in a 40mpg petrol car will cost £1,515 even though petrol is significantly cheaper at 166.60ppl.

If that whets your appetite for diesel, the Peugeot 208 drinks the least fuel of the lot, returning 73.6mpg. Want something a little cheaper? The Vauxhall Corsa costs £2,000 less at £19,005 and uses the same 1.5-litre diesel engine as the Peugeot to record 70.6mpg.

But you will be bucking the trend. Sales of new diesels have slumped, down 42 per cent year on year, according to latest industry figures.

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