Are We Being Told Our Cars Achieve A Higher MPG Than They Actually Do – Seems That Way!
Fuel consumption is a huge issue, because just a gallon of fuel now costs more than you needed to take your best girl out to the pictures for a night, grab an ice cream in the break and binge out on fish’n’chips on the way home just a few years ago. Over £6 a gallon is frankly obscene and makes us one of the most expensive countries in the world and for diesel, recent figures showed that diesel prices in the UK were the second highest in the world and that’s not something we should be forced to live with.
Toothless as we are though, our way of fighting back is to make the MPG a car does much more of a deciding factor when we choose our next car and to help us pick that car, we look at the official government fuel consumption figures. “The fact I have used the word government here should be making you suspicious already”.
So how are these tests conducted? I guess you might think it would be something like the way you and I use our cars, but no, these tests are far more scientific! The recognised European tests are based upon what’s called the ‘New European Driving Cycle’ and the tests ate carried out in laboratory conditions with the first test being that the vehicle undertakes an 195 second sequence of accelerating and idling. The second test is the ‘extra urban’ test which runs the car through a program of gentle accelerations, mixed in with the equivalent of cruising. So, these are your two tests that you will see figures for and to come up with a combined average MPG, they simply add then together and divide by two.
The failures of the government tests have been highlighted recently by What Car? Magazine, who ditched the rolling road and the boffins in the white coats and did what you and I do and that’s drive the car. For the tests, What Car? Asked two engineers to drive a total of 60 different cars over a variety of different roads, using both A roads, B roads and motorways and driving through both towns and villages. Each car had a chance to get up to its normal operating temperature before the tests started (already I have more confidence in their results over the official tests).
The results however revealed that every one of the 60 cars they tested and were not happy with the figures on any of them, with some of the cars achieving as much as 25mpg less than the government figures had claimed. As professional as What Car? Is, the government should be ashamed that a motoring magazine relying on its readership to stay in business can do a better job than a government funded department and frankly, each one of us should say a thank you to What Car? for highlighting this, but then, we shouldn’t be surprised, as the guys and gal’s at What Car? are passionate about cars and
So let’s take a look at the differences What Car? found and for the sake of dramatic effect, we will start with the worst offenders first.
Kia Picanto 1.0 2:- Official = 67.3mpg Actual = 41.2mpg difference = 26.1mpg
Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115ps Titanium:- Official = 67.3mpg Actual = 42.3mpg difference = 25mpg
Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 104g:- Official = 70.6mpg Actual = 46mpg difference = 24.6mpg
Ford Focus 1.6TDCi 115 Zetec:- Official = 67.3mpg Actual = 43.1mpg difference = 24.2mpg
Volkswagen Golf 1.6TDi 105 Bluemotion:- Official = 74.3mpg Actual = 51.8mpg difference = 22.5mpg
Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-I T Spirit:- Official = 70.6mpg Actual = 52.2mpg difference = 18.41mpg
So, this was just a flavour of the tests, but where does that leave us? The people who make the cars say that the government’s tests are archaic, but then others say that the car makers tune their vehicles before submitting them so that they will perform at their best in those test circumstances.
So there we have it and I’m disappointed by the findings of the What Car? tests, because its exposed something else we thought we could trust and though made making our choice of car easier, but alas, it appears not to be the case. So where do we go from here when looking at the fuel consumption of a car that you might fancy having. Well, online is a good place, because many drivers like to detail their experiences on motoring websites and blogs and frankly, these are as likely to be true as any test you will ever find, because they are real life.
There are dedicated locations on-line that offer advice and indeed, What Car? has there own “True MPG Calculator” which if you give it details about your car and how you drive it and about the types of road you use, it will give you a personal MPG figure.
You could of course ask to borrow a demonstrator from your local dealer and see what you achieve yourself, but then, do you question as to the accuracy of the in-car data?
Its clear however that these big differences are not confined to one make or one model and we know from tests we do here that whilst we cant for the most of the time, achieve what the car maker says we should, but then we live in the real world, not “brochure world”. You cant really blame the car makers for this, but maybe the government should be looking to establish a more realistic schedule of tests, even if it does mean leaving the lab for the road.