I presume that the New Zealand retail fuel market is similar to most other countries, where suppliers/retailers are always vying to have the “latest and greatest” technology.
I remember as a kid when Shell (which is now Z Energy in New Zealand after various ownership changes, for anyone who arrives into the country and wonders where one of the world’s largest companies has gone) first debuted V-Power.
Then BP came along and changed the game with “Ultimate 98”, which was the new must-have fuel for anybody with a performance car, or anybody who wanted to think that putting a more expensive and premium grade of petrol in their car would suddenly unlock a whole new world of POWERRR and economy.
However, unless you’ve been living under a rock and cycling everywhere, you’ll know that petrol prices in NZ have gone “cray cray” in recent years. And with the government supposedly committed to removing the temporary fuel tax relief that was instated
NPD – Nelson Petroleum Distributors to be precise – is a growing chain of petrol retailers (more common in the South Island but expanding presence in the North Island) that typically offers competitively-priced fuel, sometimes at self-service stations and sometimes at full-service stations, including some larger outlets like on Moorhouse Ave in Christchurch that have the space and food/drink offering to rival the best BP outlets.
But most petrol is petrol, right?
The reason NPD is a bit interesting is that they sell what is claimed to be NZ’s only road legal (i.e. you can buy it at a normal petrol station) 100 octane fuel, and it is often less expensive than BP’s Ultimate 98 and sometimes not much more than you’d pay for 95 at the likes of Z Energy.
But is NPD’s 100 Plus any good?
In this article I’m going to share my experience using this fuel on a semi-regular basis.
The first thing to note is that this is NOT a fully scientific review. I haven’t gone out and spent a whole fortune and a load of time carefully analysing NPD’s 100 plus fuel, or any competitor referenced here.
Instead, I’m sharing my experiences using it and the information I can find about the product, so you can make an informed choice.
Please note that the editors of this site do not accept or bear any responsibility of you use NPD 100 Plus and it causes damage to your vehicle.
Table of Contents
What Is NPD 100 Plus?
As the marketing spiel goes, it’s New Zealand’s only easily-accessible (if you live near an NPD petrol station, that is) 100 octane fuel.
That’s right, you get a whole 2 more “octanes” than BP offers … and usually at a better price, although I will say that BP’s coffee is generally leagues ahead of NPD’s.
It’s also the only fuel I’ve seen in NZ that has a pump colour scheme that The Artist Formerly Known As Prince would love – purple.
Not going to lie, I like the quirky purple colour scheme that NPD has got going on.
Why Do I Use It?
My first foray into using NPD 100 Plus came following a trip with my Suzuki Swift Sport to the local Suzuki dealer. I had been having an issue (which still isn’t totally resolved by the way) with an annoying buzzing sound from the car under acceleration.
The Suzuki technician checked with me whether I was using at least 95 octane petrol – apparently they were having issues with customers buying Swift Sports then filling them with 91 fuel/regular in order to save money, resulting in engine knocking and pinging – and he then recommended I try the highest octane fuel I could find to see if that helped.
As luck would have it, there was an NPD not too far down the road and I needed to fill up, so I rocked up to the forecourt and decided to try the purple handle of motoring mystery.
The rest, as they say, is history.
My Experience With NPD 100 Plus
Long story short, I have been using NPD 100 Plus fairly consistently (maybe 60-70% of fills) for the past 18 months. Otherwise I will use BP Ultimate 98 if there is no NPD nearby when I need to fill up, or I have some kind of special discount with my AA Smartfuel card.
And what has my experience been?
I’m not going to lie to you and say I noticed a drastic improvement in vehicle performance or fuel economy. The Swift is already crazy frugal, and I definitely don’t notice any uptick in power or acceleration or anything like that … as you probably know, fuel octane rating is more of an issue if you are using a lower grade of fuel than is required. If you’d like to better understand this topic, read our recent article on whether higher octane fuel improves power and economy.
However, I also haven’t noticed any negative effects from using the NPD fuel and it has typically saved me money versus using BP Ultimate 98 (both in terms of fuel cost and also avoiding the temptations of the BP food cabinet and barista station).
With that in mind, I’m a happy customer.
One thing to note is that NPD specifically warn on the fuel bowsers that not all vehicles are suitable for 100 Plus, and that you should check your car’s specifications and requirements first. Also the additive in the fuel (see below) can apparently stain some types of fuel tanks.
I personally wouldn’t use 100 Plus in an old classic, and I don’t bother in my Touareg as spending a single penny more than I need to when filling a 100L tank is silly, but for a modern high-performance turbo engine like in the 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, it seems to be a good option.
In other words, if NPD 100 Plus is competitively priced in your area and you have a car that needs high grade fuel, then it might be worth a try.
How Does NPD Achieve The 100 Octane Rating?
Basically by taking petrol and adding some n-methyl aniline, an additive that is used to boost the octane rating of fuel. You can see this in NPD’s ‘Safety Data Sheet’ for the product (available here)
I am no scientist, and especially no petrochemist, but here’s a simple explanation I borrowed from ChatGPT on what n-methyl aniline does.
N-Methyl aniline, also known as NMA, is a chemical compound that can be used in the context of boosting fuel octane. Octane rating is a measure of a fuel’s ability to resist “knocking” or “pinging” during combustion, which is undesirable and can cause engine damage.
In the context of fuel, NMA is typically used as an octane booster or an additive to improve the octane rating of gasoline. It belongs to a class of chemicals known as aromatic amines, which are characterized by the presence of an amino group (-NH2) attached to an aromatic ring structure.
NMA achieves its octane-boosting effect by altering the combustion characteristics of the fuel. It can promote more controlled and efficient burning of the air-fuel mixture in the engine, reducing the likelihood of knocking. By suppressing knocking, NMA helps optimize engine performance, improve fuel efficiency, and prevent potential engine damage.
If you’re reading this from the United States (which would be strange, considering that NPD is a New Zealand only fuel company, but maybe you got here from the homepage or something) and you’re wondering why NZ fuel seems to have such a high octane rating, then you can read my recent article here about why US fuel appears to be lower octane/RON.