With an increase in fuel prices happening ever so often, the price of premium petrol has gone up even further, with one brand almost reaching the Rs. 100 mark. Is it worth filling premium petrol in your car at these high prices? What benefits do you get from premium petrol?
CarToq lists the pros and cons of using premium petrol in your car, and if it is really necessary.
What is premium petrol?
Premium petrol in India is regular unleaded fuel that has been mixed with additives for various claimed benefits. Except for one brand, Speed 97 from Bharat Petroleum , which is petrol with a higher octane rating of 97 meant for use in high-performance engines such as sports cars. Normal unleaded petrol has an octane rating of about 89-91 depending on the brand.
In India, there are four brands of premium petrol – Speed 97 and Speed from Bharat Petroleum, Xtrapremium from IndianOil and Power from Hindustan petroleum. Premium petrol usually has an octane rating of about 91 to 93 octane depending on the brand.
Benefits of premium petrol
The additives that are added to the petrol are supposed to mainly help with cleaning the engine and preventing build-up of carbon deposits in the engine and intake system. The higher octane rating also is useful for engines that have slightly higher compression ratios (some of the higher end premium cars in India, as well as turbo-charged petrol cars, such as the Linea T-Jet, Skoda Laura TSI, Volkswagen Jetta etc), as a higher octane rating will prevent engine “knocking” – as it increases the combustion temperature of the fuel.
Higher octane ratings also help in more complete combustion of the fuel, leading to a marginal increase in power (coming at lower rpms), which allows you to use a higher gear at certain speeds – which is again good for mileage. The use of detergents and lubricants in premium petrol does help with keeping the engine running smoother. In the long term, this shows up as slightly increased mileage as well, but not more than a km or so per litre. Also read: Is diesel still the most attractive fuel?
Price of premium petrol
Petrol has been fully deregulated in India and prices move in conjunction with global market prices. Of course, the retail price varies from state to state depending on the local state taxes. For instance petrol is cheapest in Goa at Rs. 57 a litre, because the state has removed all taxes from the fuel. New Delhi sells regular unleaded petrol at Rs. 68.46 which is among the cheaper states in the country. The most expensive state in the country is Karnataka where regular petrol sells at Rs. 75.91 a litre.
Premium petrol is Rs. 6.36 more expensive on average compared to regular petrol.
Here are the prices of premium petrol in New Delhi (per litre):
Regular unleaded: Rs. 68.46
IOC XtraPremium: Rs. 77.58
BP Speed: Rs. 77.89
BP Speed 97: Rs. 91.37
HP Power: Rs. 78.27
Therefore, if a car were to fill about 30 litres of regular petrol it would cost Rs. 2,053. However, if the same car were to use a premium brand at an average of Rs. 78 per litre, it would cost Rs. 2,340, which is nearly Rs. 290 more. For this money, the benefits are not really tangible, and hence not really advisable to fill every tankful.
Even if a car gave an average of 10 kmpl on regular petrol and 11 kmpl on premium petrol –the per kilometer running costs are substantially higher on premium at Rs. 7.10 per Km compared to Rs. 6.80 per km on regular petrol.
Alternatives to premium petrol
However, if you still want to extract the benefits of premium petrol such as a cleaner engine and better long-term maintenance, you could consider filling one tank of premium petrol after every four tankfuls of regular petrol. Or you could buy a bottle of fuel additive (System G, STP octane booster, Bardhal fuel treatment etc) which cost between Rs. 200 and Rs. 400 a bottle, and treats one tankful of fuel. This averages out to about the same cost (remember the Rs. 290 price difference for 30 litres?). Our take: Once in four tanks is useful.
The only people who would really benefit from premium, high octane petrol are drivers for supercars and bikes which need high octane fuel. These cars mandate that only high octane fuel be used. But at Rs. 91.37 a litre and atrocious fuel efficiency averages of about 5 kmpl – they are very, very expensive to run. Let’s leave them aside for now. Also read: Do you need premium diesel for your car?
Share any experiences you’ve had with premium petrol with the CarToq community.