MANY drivers are still buying new diesel cars because they think they will save on running costs.
But when the higher price of buying even a secondhand one comes into the equation, a petrol model will often cost far less to run over three or even five years.
The SEAT Leon is a perfect example. It has loads to recommend it, with a stylish interior and smooth, stylish body shape.
But the 1.2 petrol turbo is cheaper to buy and run than the 1.6 diesel.
Other petrol engines available in the range include 1.0 and 1.4 petrol turbos with 115, 125, 140 or 150bhp. Diesels are the 1.6 TDI with 110 or 115bhp and a 2.0 TDI with 140 or 184bhp.
The Leon is based on the latest Golf of course and all the engines are shared by the two cars.
Performance is good to excellent in them all and even the 1.2 petrol makes the zero to 60 miles an hour sprint in less than 10 seconds.
The engines are all smooth and quiet, but while the diesels have better economy, they are usually much more expensive to buy.
Lower order cars have a comfortable ride allied to very good road-holding and handling, but more sporting models have stiffened suspension for sharper handling and this gives much firmer ride with little gain in the road-holding department.
Lower order diesels have a five-speed gearbox while all the others have six speeds and most have the option of the excellent DSG automatic.
All Leons are five door hatches and the level of equipment makes the VW Golf look overpriced.
Kit in the base S includes start/stop, an alarm, audio remote, aircon, electric mirrors and windows,traction control, remote locking and height adjustment for both driver's seat and steering column.
Interior space is good, with room for four and five on a shorter run. The boot is a decent size and the rear seats fold 60/40 for maximum versatility.
Pay about Â£7,000 for a '13 13-reg 1.2-litre petrol Leon S, or Â£9,000 for a '15 15-reg SE.