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Diesel or not to diesel?

That is the question, says Jarvis Smith
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
To diesel or not to diesel?

This article first appeared in our autumn ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Consumer Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 16 Nov 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Two ethical business people I know recently decided to buy new cars. They could both afford an electric or hybrid but, to my surprise, they opted for diesel instead.

I really wondered about this. I’ve driven a diesel car for the last three years; when I bought it it was one of the lowest emission diesel SUVs on the market, and the best option for me because I couldn’t afford the electric car that I wanted. The vehicle needed to be big enough for a new baby, her older sibling, three bikes and all the kit that’s necessary for an active, outdoor family life.

So back to my friends and their new diesels. Both of them make solid decisions when it comes to sustainable business practice, and they’re people I trust. Why buy a diesel car – one a Land Rover and the other a Volvo? I drive the same Volvo so I already know the answer to that question, but the Land Rover choice stumped me a bit, so I decided to do a little more research.

I managed to get my hands on two Land Rovers that seem to be popular at the moment: a lower emission Land Rover Range Rover Velar D240 HSE with the non-leather option, and the new Land Rover Discovery SD4 HSE.

What I discovered is that there’s no other car out there with off-road capabilities to rival a Land Rover’s. If you need to work or travel off road a lot, these machines will get you from A to B without even breaking a sweat, which can’t be said of all 4X4s.

It’s also worth saying that everybody I’ve ever spoken to about getting behind the wheel of a Land Rover has loved the experience. The top model Range Rovers are good enough for royals and politicians; I assume some aspire to drive these vehicles on the basis they’re the best that money can buy in their class. Well, I wanted to find out if they were right.

Velar HSE D240

The award-winning Range Rover Velar HSE D240 has a non-leather option, which was pitched to me as a vegan interior. Intrigued?

The interior is a suedocloth that’s made using discarded single-use plastics. It’s pretty cool, but the plastic is blended with wool. The result is a fabric that matches the high standards set by the rest of the car, but I wouldn’t call it vegan.

I always thought I was pretty on it, but this car is just a bit too cool for me. It is refined and drives beautifully, on and off road. It was a tantalising yet solid runner from Brighton to Inverness, Yorkshire and back. I was getting around 45MPG and for 154 CO2 EU Combined (g/km), that’s a pretty appealing option. Prices start at £44k; our model was £68k.

Discovery SD4 HSE

We took the discovery on a more serious voyage: the Austrian Alps, to stay in the stunningly beautiful Stillebach Biohotel in the Pitztal Valley (see page 39). Discovering in the Discovery was blissful for the whole family. We travelled from Brighton to Newhaven ferry port, spent the night in Dieppe then set off early the next day for Austria.

The 10-hour drive through France, Germany and into Austria was a breeze. Our two daughters, aged two and 10, had a great time, and we had fun playing our favourite songs on the superb music system.

My biggest thrill was driving – alone – from 1,500m to 3,000m on a grass trail, zig-zagging across waterfalls along the way. There is no way I would have done this in my car, but I trusted this off-road beauty and still live to tell the tale.

Based on size, comfort and sheer magnificence, this was my clear favourite of the two vehicles. I felt regal, even if just for a week. We averaged 38MPG; that’s good for the size, but the 171 CO2 EU Combined (g/km) is a downside worth considering.

For the price this is a whole lot of motor. Prices start at £47k; our model was £55k.

Jarvis Smith is co-founder of, founder of the P.E.A. (People. Environment. Achievement.) Awards and a conscious business consultant.

Click here to find out more about Jarvis Smith.

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