Unleaded Vs Super Unleaded – Is Premium Fuel Worth It?

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When you go to fuel your car, you’ve undoubtedly come across ‘premium’ options for both petrol and diesel pumps. These have a higher-octane rating which means they require higher compression before igniting, often meaning improved performance and efficiency of your engine as there’s less chance of this process happening at the wrong time.


As the name suggests, premium fuels are more expensive than regular ones – but is it worth you paying it each time to fill up? Read on to find out everything you need to know before topping up the tank.


Is super unleaded fuel better than unleaded fuel?

Refueling Car

Premium fuels are often referred to as ‘super’ or ‘high performance’, which may have you wondering “What makes them so special?” Well, as we mentioned earlier, greater pressure is needed before ignition. This means that it’s much less likely that fuel will explode at the wrong time when compressed.

If you have a high-performance car (or ‘hyper car’) then the engine will usually compress fuel more than a normal passenger car. You’ll want to use super/premium fuels when filling up a hyper car because its nature of being harder to ignite means it’s less likely to damage the engine.

You may still be able to use premium fuels if you drive a regular vehicle. However, we encourage you to check your car’s handbook to find out what the octane (or cetane if you have a diesel car) rating recommendation is for your engine. If you can’t find it in your handbook, you may be able to see it labelled on your fuel cap.

Super unleaded fuel typically has a rating between 97 and 99 RON (Research Octane Number), compared to 91-95 in standard petrol fuel. Premium diesel tends to have a CN (Cetane Number) between 47 and 52, whereas regular diesel has a cetane number of 40-42.


How much more expensive are premium fuels?

Woman paying with phone at the gas station

See the table below showing the latest data* on average UK fuel prices for an understanding of how premium and super unleaded fuels compare with normal fuel in terms of cost.


*Data courtesy of Confused.com


To put this into perspective, here’s how prices* compare to fuel a small car like the Vauxhall Corsa which has a 40-litre fuel tank capacity and is only available in petrol.

  • Unleaded price (full tank): £53.92p
  • Premium unleaded price (full tank): £57.44p

*Prices shown are assuming the average cost used in the table above


Is it worth paying extra for premium fuel?


It all depends on the type of car you have and how often you drive it.

If you have a small to medium car that you only use for commutes to the shops and work, it’s probably not necessary.

On the other hand, if you have a sports car like a Cupra that you like to push a bit harder on winding roads (safely of course) then it’s likely that you’ll get your money’s worth by filling up with supr unleaded.


Should you put premium fuel in your secondhand car?

Audi R8 2016 Test Drive Day

Thinking of putting premium fuel in your secondhand car? Here are a couple of tips we urge you to consider before going straight in and filling up with it.

  1. Find out whether the previous owner filled it with premium fuel – if they did and it runs smoothly, then it shouldn’t be a problem!
  2. Check the handbook or fuel cap of your car to see what the octane/cetane rating of your car is. This will give you a good indication of whether or not the engine will be suitable for premium fuel.
  3. Sometimes common sense prevails and you can look at the type of car you have and how you drive it to determine whether you should fill it with super fuel. For example, if you have an Audi R8 like the one pictured above, it’s safe to say that its massive V10 engine will be much more adept at compressing more fuel than a regular hatchback. So, you’ll probably want to avoid super unleaded/diesel fuel if you’re driving a car like the Ford Fiesta which has a smaller engine.

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