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Is it worth splashing out for premium petrol?

There seem to be so many options at the pumps these days; but are premium petrol brands worth the cash? We have gathered the information you need to make an informed decision next time you pull onto the forecourt. 

What is premium fuel?

Premium performance fuel, or super fuel, as it’s also known, is petrol that has a higher research octane number (RON). It usually has an octane number of around 98 but can reach up to 102, whereas standard fuel usually has an octane number of 95. 

There are different brands of premium fuel, with some of the most popular being Esso Synergy Supreme+, Texaco Supreme, Shell’s V-Power Nitro + and BP Ultimate. Many supermarket garages have their own brand versions too. 

It’s claimed that premium performance fuel can improve your car’s performance, clean your engine and make it work more efficiently. Esso says: “Our premium grade, higher octane petrol has double the detergent additives to help give a deeper clean for better engine performance.” 

BP states: “Our hard-working, BP Ultimate fuels help your engine to run at its most efficient, so as little precious energy as possible is wasted – helping you get more miles from your tank.” 

Super diesel is also available, should you have a diesel car. Premium performance diesel can have octane ratings of up to 60, with standard diesel having an octane rating of around 51. This super diesel doesn’t have as high a RON rating because in diesel cars the fuel isn’t ignited. Instead, premium diesel offers extra chemicals in its mixture to remove any oily or sooty deposits, cleaning the car’s engine. 

Whether you opt for premium fuel or not is often a personal choice, but some car manuals do state that fuel with a high RON is needed. A high-performance sports car, for instance, will need fuel with a high RON for its engine to work effectively. 

Is premium fuel worth it?

Some experts say that most people won’t notice a difference if they switch from standard fuel to premium fuel and that the vast majority of cars are designed to work well with standard fuel[1]. However, it might be worth shelling out for premium fuel if you have a high-performance sports car, as drivers of these cars usually do notice an improvement in performance when they use premium fuel. This is because the engines in high-performance sports cars have higher compression ratios and temperatures, so can be boosted more than a standard car. Using high octane fuel can also help the engine rev more freely. 

There is a cost implication to buying premium fuel, as it can be between 10 to 30 pence per litre more expensive than standard fuel. If you’re filling your tank, this can be a substantial amount, so you might want to just use it occasionally to clean your engine. 

In theory, you get more miles per gallon with premium fuel, but you’ll need to try it for yourself and see. Whether you see this benefit or not will often depend on the car you drive, how you drive it and the types of journeys you make. If you want to keep your cost down, it’s probably going to work out cheaper to just stick with standard fuel. 

Does premium fuel help reduce wear and tear?

The higher the RON of your petrol, the more efficiently it will burn in your car’s engine. If you have a high-performance sports car you may be pleased to know that the chances of it ‘knocking’ will be reduced. (‘Knocking’ is when unburned fuel pre-ignites in your engine.) Standard cars don’t usually suffer from knocking as much, as their engines don’t have the same high compression rates as high-performance sports cars.

As a general rule of thumb you might want to opt for a premium fuel every 1,000 miles or so, but there’s no reason to use it every time you fill up unless you have a high-performance sports car.

No matter what car you drive or how you chose to fuel it, you will always need to keep it insured. If your insurance is due for renewal soon, click here to get a quote for Rias car insurance >