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We really are diesel dummies here in North America. Europeans, however, have fuel figured out. They may be drowning in debt, but drivers in the euro zone know that diesel is the way to go. Petrol, or what we call gasoline, is for losers.
In Ireland, a litre of petrol will run you 1.60 euros while a litre of diesel is 1.50. A quick look at ontariogasprices.com shows that gasoline costs more than diesel in Canada too. More to the point, you'll get almost double the mileage with diesel than gas.
If you're worried about the smell and the blue belches, get over it. Gone are the days of smoking, stinking diesel engines. Driving a new diesel-powered Hyundai hatchback (six speed manual transmission), it was silky smooth and not noisy. And we got about 1000 kilometres on a tank. I calculated about one and a quarter tanks for the 1324 kilometres we drove. Given that I only drive standard shift when I rent overseas, I realize I'm probably not driving at maximum efficiency. As a more regular gearbox shifter, I'd probably get even better mileage.
A Dublin cabbie I engaged on the subject told me that some 65 to 70 percent of the vehicles in Ireland are now diesel and every service station has a choice of either petrol or diesel. Although the sticker price for a new diesel vehicle is about 3 to 4000 euros more than that of a petrol car, anyone doing serious mileage makes up for that price difference in short order.
Once converted into Canadian currency, the price of a litre of diesel in Ireland comes in at a bit under $2. But requiring only about four litres for every 100 kilometers, it's a relatively cheap and efficient fuel.
Maybe one day all of Canada's service stations will offer the diesel option, and car makers will provide lots of models from which to choose.