Real world fuel economy: there is a limit

It's trucks v cars, pt.94


So there I was, innocently trying to see how economical a Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion can go in real world conditions.

Not by driving everywhere at glacial speeds (little real about that), but by keeping my nose clean and staying out of trouble.

Which, on the motorway, I discovered, means driving at around 55-60mph. Why? Because woe betide you if you try to drive more slowly. The trucks, see, they don’t like it.

Trucks are unforgiving things and while they don’t seem to mind two-mile overtakes for their brethren, they resolutely fail to accept a car driving at a similar speed to them. ON go the lights. GONE goes the gap between your back bumper and them. Until you speed up or they eventually thunder past, fag paper between you and them the entire time. Bit hairy.

This means that, for economy driving in the UK, there’s effectively a minimum speed. And what economy did I manage in the Golf at this speed? 84mpg. Not bad. Not quite the 88mpg combined average though, and certainly not extra-urban…

… Fear not. This isn’t a rant about how official figures don’t reflect what you actually achieve. What I am observing is the fact that, effectively, that’s the ‘top’ fuel consumption I’d get from a Golf Bluemotion.

The car could do more. I could certainly do more to help if I had more freedom to drive it even more smoothly. But because we have to share the roads with others and have distances to cover, the best you’ll probably see from the Bluemotion Golf, if you have the patience, is around 85mpg.

How they factor that into official tests, I don’t know. But I for one don’t really want to get into a fight with an artic just to save a few more mpg. I’ll take my 85mpg and run with it, thanks.

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Richard Aucock
I'm director at Motoring Research. I run a bit, cycle a bit, have a huge love for the automotive industry.


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