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It’s a common concept for a lot of drivers that Premium fuel is superior to Regular, and many do spend the extra 20-30p a litre to ensure their engines run smooth and their fuel economy is enhanced. But what do these fuels contain, and what makes them an “Ultimate” or “Supreme” option?

Premium Fuels on the UK Market

The majority of branded fuel stations offer a premium option, although supermarket own brands do not, such as Tesco and Asda for example, unless they are operating a branded fuel station such as Esso. Some of the Premium fuels on the UK market at this moment in time include:

  • BP Ultimate
  • Shell V-Power
  • Esso Synergy
  • Gulf Endurance
  • Texaco Supreme

All of these have names which are designed to inspire confidence in the consumer – Ultimate, Optimum, Endurance…you want your vehicle to be and have all of these things, so right away it’s setting the tone that by buying the premium option, you are spending money on fuel that will ensure longevity and performance.

But how?

Premium fuels are marketed as containing additives that Regular fuels do not (or do, but not in the same quantity) – although the specific blends of Premium fuels in particular are closely guarded secrets by the manufacturers, you only have to do a quick search online to understand the basics. Using our examples above:

  • BP Ultimate is marketed as being “specially designed” to remove dirt from critical engine parts for both petrol and diesel vehicles, which in turn will contribute to increased MPG and a smoother drive, as well as less risk of unplanned maintenance and breakdowns.
  • Shell V-Power is “Britain’s No.1 Performance Fuel” according to the Shell website, again designed to clean and protect the engine from the first fill. Shell say that the latest-generation Shell V-Power Unleaded fuel contains 3x more cleaning molecules than regular Shell Unleaded and has an octane rating of 99RON, which is the highest available in this country.
  • Esso Synergy fuels are again marketed as being the best to clean and protect engines and vital engine components, reducing “nasty deposits” and improve fuel economy by an average of 1.8%. Esso state that 2 fuel detergents, a solvent fluid, an anti-foaming agent and a demulsifier are added to the fuel which help to scrub away deposits, prevent build up and protect the engine.
  • Gulf Endurance has a higher-octane rating (97 RON as opposed to 95 RON of standard unleaded) to aid fuel efficiency and reduce energy waste. This higher-octane blend also helps to prevent against “engine knock”, which can damage interior components of the engine and provide better protection overall.
  • Texaco Supreme contains additives which are designed to aid engine performance and like the others, keep the components clean, removing deposits and preventing new build up.

However much these brands build their premium options up, they do all have the caveat that driving performance and any gains that may be seen through using a premium version of fuel can and will be impacted by a number of factors, including driving style, vehicle type, engine condition and environmental factors.

The question is, is it worth the extra money per litre to use fuel that may or may not deliver the benefits it offers, if how you drive, or the weather conditions will adversely impact on them. Many drivers think so and let’s be fair, using premium fuels aren’t going to do any damage to your car, so if you can afford the extra then playing safe isn’t a bad option. But what about those drivers who want to keep their fuel costs down? Are they just robbing Peter to pay Paul – by saving money on fuel, will they have higher maintenance or repair costs for their dirty engines in the future, or be running a vehicle with less MPG in the long run?

There will never be a definite answer to that question as there are many factors that affect a car’s performance and overall health (see above), but what we do know is that all fuels, standard and premium, from all brands and manufacturers have to confirm to UK specifications. By not paying for a Premium version, you are still using a fuel that has been tested to meet these specifications, and as such is perfectly safe for your engine.

To conclude, premium versions of Regular fuel are more expensive but what you are paying for is a different blend that meets all minimum requirements with additional additives to clean, protect and enhance engine lifetime and performance. whether you choose to pay this extra is down to personal preference, but you may never be able to quantify or confirm that you’re getting extra benefits from doing so, so if keeping fuel costs down is important, then using a Regular fuel is also perfectly fine for your vehicle (and indeed, many people have never used a Premium fuel and their vehicles run as they should).