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What is Shell V-Power Nitro+ Diesel and is it worth it?

Is Shell V-Power Nitro+ Diesel better for your car?

Diesel cars are more renowned for their efficiency rather than all-out performance, so buying a so-called high-performance fuel for such vehicles may seem counterintuitive to some drivers. Yet fuel vendors the world over make it a priority to sell high-end diesel, with promises of increased performance, cleaner engines and better fuel economy.

Here, we take a closer look at Shell's offering, V-Power Nitro + Diesel, to see whether it's worth the price hike over standard diesel, and what benefits it can bring.

Tester strips showing the amount of soot left by different fuels.

What's the big deal with fancy fuels anyway?

Making a good fuel isn't easy, especially a decent diesel. While petrol has around 200-300 different molecular compound types in its mixture, diesel is far more complex, with 10,000-30,000 compound types. In addition, the pressure inside a diesel system is roughly 3,000 bar -- that's 2-3 times higher than what you'd experience at the deepest point in the ocean -- hardly an easy environment for a fuel to work in.

Cars themselves are incredibly complex, too. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner uses 6.5 million lines of code to stay in the air. A premium passenger car, such as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class can contain in excess of 100 million lines of code. Not all of that relates to the vehicle's combustion system, but it gives you an idea of how complicated cars are -- getting the best of them isn't as simple as dumping Acme fuel inside and hoping for the best.

So what is the deal with V-Power Nitro + Diesel?

It's diesel with a difference, according to Shell. It has all the regular stuff you'd find in ordinary forecourt fuel, plus a special cocktail of chemicals designed to clean and protect your engine, while restoring lost engine power and boosting economy – in theory.

An enlarged injector showing soot buildup, and an actual injector.

Isn't ordinary diesel good enough?

Most fuels in the developed world are clean and will serve your engine well, but not all fuels are created equal. When diesel fuels burn (yes, even the stuff you get at your local petrol station) they leave behind nasty deposits – soot, essentially – that can form over an engine's fuel injectors. These injectors, which contain nozzles that measure less than the width of a human hair, are designed to spray a perfect pattern of fuel for efficient combustion, but can easily be blocked (think mud over the nozzles of a watering can) preventing fuel getting through as intended. 

If fuel's not getting through as intended, then you might be sacrificing power or burning too much of it.

Corrosion might also occur on the metallic surfaces of an engine. This corrosion, or rust, can form particles that come lose and travel downstream through the rest of the engine. Needless to say this is less than ideal for your car.

Shell V-Power Nitro+ Disel cleans soot from your car's injectors.

What does V-Power Nitro+ Diesel do?

V-Power Nitro + Diesel has special detergents inside that break up deposits, allowing the engine's injectors to spray freely (like a fresh new watering can). As the fuel travels through the injectors, it picks up the deposits and cleans them out, restoring the injectors, giving you an optimised fuel spray pattern and thus better combustion.

V Power Nitro+ Diesel also has a higher cetane rating (or combustion speed) than some ordinary diesel. This higher rating (an inverse of the octane number in petrol) means it tends to produce less soot during combustion, minimising the likelihood of your injectors being blocked again once cleaned. Any newly-removed soot is burnt as part of the combustion process and ejected via the exhausts.

The likelihood of corrosion, meanwhile, is reduced thanks to better lubrication of the metal surfaces that fuel comes into contact with. It won't de-corrode your engine, but the film protects your engine surfaces, slows the rate of corrosion and ultimately contributes to better engine health.

Less corrosion is better for your engine.

What are the day to day benefits of Shell V-Power Nitro+?

Shell doesn't make any grand claims about exact fuel economy improvements – it prefers to show customers the theory and let us decide for ourselves. However it's an irrefutable fact that a cleaner engine will give you better performance and better economy.

Using V-Power Nitro+ Diesel might not transform your car's performance – you may not even feel it during day to day driving, but cars badly affected by poor quality fuel should feel more responsive over time. As for economy, you might only gain a few miles per gallon per journey, perhaps, but over time you should find you save more money with V-Power Nitro+ Diesel than you might if you used fuels that don't burn as cleanly or sweep up after themselves as effectively.

Do you use Shell V-Power Nitro+? Let us know how you get on.

Shell V-Power Nitro+ driving challenge

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