How to save money on fuel

Petrol pump

Filling up with fuel is probably one of your biggest household bills. Just think: if you spend £50 a week on petrol or diesel, that adds up to £2,600 a year.

The good news is, saving fuel isn’t as hard as you might think – and in most cases it won’t cost you a penny.

In fact, follow our advice and you could find more money in your wallet at the end of the month.

Check your tyre pressures

Tyre pressures

Admit it, it’s been a while since you checked your car’s tyre pressures. Michelin recommends you should check them at least once month and before long journeys.

Ignoring this advice could damage your tyres, as well as having a negative effect on the way your car handles or stops in an emergency. More relevant to this feature is the impact it will have on your fuel consumption.

Tyres under-inflated by 15psi (1 bar) will lead to around six percent greater fuel consumption. That’s the equivalent of 47mpg instead of 50mpg. Most petrol stations will have a tyre inflator and some are free to use. Alternatively, you could invest in a good quality tyre pump, allowing you to check your pressures at home.

Remember, the correct tyre pressures will be listed in your car’s handbook, as well as somewhere on the car itself – often on the inside of the fuel filler cap.

Turn off the air conditioning

Air conditioning

At low speeds, using the air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by between five and seven percent. That’s according to Anthony Sale of the Millbrook Proving Ground. At higher speeds, air conditioning has less of an impact.

If possible, turn off the air-con when driving through town or when stuck in traffic, opening the car windows instead. When travelling on faster roads, close the windows and switch on the air conditioning, as driving with the sunroof or windows open will increase drag and thus fuel consumption.

Remember to use your air conditioning at least once a month to maintain its efficiency and avoid problems with the system.

Reduce weight

Reduce weight

The more your car is carrying, the harder the engine is having to work, which increases fuel consumption. In simple terms, if you don’t need it, don’t carry it.

This doesn’t mean you can dump your mother-in-law at the bus stop and tell her to walk, but it does mean you can remove all the rubbish piled up in the footwells and the garden waste you’ve been hauling about for the past few weeks.

You should also remove your set of golf clubs from the boot, unless of course you’re intending to bowl a few overs after work. Or whatever it is you do on a golf course.

Reduce drag

Reduce drag

Roof racks and roof boxes will seriously damage your car’s aerodynamic properties, rendering the hours that engineers spent in the wind tunnel well and truly wasted.

Now, we’re not saying you should leave your mountain bikes at home when heading off for a cycling holiday. And we’re also not suggesting emptying the contents of your roof box into the boot and leaving the dog at home.

However, once you’ve arrived at your destination, you should remove the roof box or anything else you plonked on the roof rack. Oh, and if possible, remove the roof rack as well.

Change up earlier

Change up earlier

Develop a smooth driving style, accelerating gently and reading the road ahead to avoid any unnecessary braking.

Don’t let the engine labour, but aim to change up a gear at around 2,500rpm in a petrol-engined car or 2,000rpm in a diesel. If your car has a gear-shift indicator, use it.

When possible, change up into fifth or sixth gear, which should see fuel consumption drop to its lowest level. But don’t speed, because that’s illegal and it could hurt your wallet. More on this shortly.

Stop braking. No, really…

Stop braking

Strange as it may sound, we urge you to stop braking. Don’t worry, we haven’t taken leave of our senses, it’s just that using your brakes is seriously bad for your wealth.

However, wait, before you go careering off into a wall or the back of that Honda Jazz, hear us out…

If you can keep the car moving all the time, you’ll use less fuel. This is because the act of stopping then starting again uses more fuel than simply rolling along. Read the road ahead and anticipate the flow of traffic, especially when approaching roundabouts. Maintain a steady speed without stopping and you’ll save money over time.

Reduce your speed

Reduce your speed

Speeding is the big no-no, but not only from a legal perspective. A car travelling at 80mph will consume 10 percent more fuel than the same car travelling at 70mph. If you spend most of your time on motorways, this could turn out to be a significant chunk of money.

Of course, it’s not a simple case of the slower you drive, the less fuel you’ll consume, but there is a happy medium to be achieved. Driving at speeds of between 50mph and 60mph in fifth or sixth gear will maximise your returns. But we do appreciate you need to reach your destination at some point.

Whatever, don’t speed – a flash from a camera could result in a fine totalling the cost of a tank of fuel…

Service your car

Service the car

A serviced engine is a happy engine. Well, that’s according to an oil-stained poster we saw hanging up in a garage, once upon a time.

The fact is that a well-maintained engine will run more efficiently and use less fuel. So you should really think about giving your car a long-overdue service.

Your car’s handbook will tell you when it should be serviced, and don’t ignore that helpful reminder on your dashboard. Remember to check your oil from time to time and always use the correct grade for your engine. Again, consult your handbook or telephone your nearest dealer for advice.

Leave earlier

Leave earlier

Sounds obvious, but you should think about leaving earlier for that very important meeting. If you’ve got a deadline to meet, leave home or the office with plenty of time to spare. Not only will you avoid speeding, you may arrive an hour early, giving you time to relax and prepare for that awfully important meeting.

Similarly, if you can combine numerous trips into one journey, you’ll save fuel. Clearly that’s not possible if you have to be in Skipton one day and St Ives the next, but with some basic planning, you could be able to cut down on there number of trips you make in a single month.

Apps like Waze and Google Maps can help with finding the best route, too. 

Avoid driving at peak times

Avoid peak times

Nobody likes getting stuck in a jam. A congested morning commute can set you off on the wrong foot, while a stop-start journey home can lead to added stress before you reach your front door. So, why not avoid driving during peak times?

Setting off for work 30 minutes earlier could result in you missing the jams altogether, giving you time to go for a stroll or have a relaxing coffee before you face the working day. In fact, the money you save on fuel could mean you can afford a few extra take-away lattes every month.

If you can’t avoid the rush hour, think about buying a hybrid car, which should use less fuel in traffic than a standard diesel or petrol model. At the very least, you should consider a car with stop-start technology, which will minimise the amount of fuel you’re wasting.

Shop around for fuel

Shop around for fuel

The cost of fuel can vary from retailer to retailer and it’s not uncommon to find a different set of prices in two outlets next door to each other. So it pays to shop around, although we wouldn’t recommend taking a 20-mile journey to save 1p on a litre of fuel. is an excellent fuel price comparison site and takes data from nearly 11,000 petrol stations across the UK. Prices are updated daily and the difference between high and low prices can be staggering.

Also consider signing up to a supermarket or petrol station loyalty card, as points can be converted into money-off vouchers.

Buy a more economical car

Buy a more economical car

Some of the smallest and most economical new cars can be purchased on a PCP finance contract for less than £100 a month. If they offer something in the region of 60mpg and your current car manages half that, the maths could add up.

Work out how many miles you drive in a year and how much you’re currently spending on motoring. Then work out how much it would cost with a new car and go from there. Don’t be lured into a false economy.

If the majority of your journeys involve short trips and you have the capacity to install a home charging point, don’t rule out an electric car either For short journeys and town driving, they make a great deal of sense and electric cars have come a long way since the days of the Ford Comuta (see above).

If the sums don’t add up, stick with what you’ve got and look at ways of driving more economically.

Walk or use public transport

Use public transport

If all else fails, leave the car at home and go for a walk. Clearly this won’t work if you live in the country and have a 30-mile commute to contend with, but in some cases a walk or public transport could be the answer.

Alternatively, think about a car-share scheme. By pairing up with another commuter heading in the same direction, you could literally halve the cost of fuel. Hey, it worked for Peter Kay, so it can work for you…


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Sorry, Greta: driving slowly in a Giulia Quadrifoglio really sucks

I might be the first person on earth to take any notice of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s fuel economy figure. It’s an irrelevance. As meaningful as an energy efficiency sticker on an American-style fridge freezer.

The hot Alfa’s performance figures are far cooler. Top speed: 191mph. Zero to 62mph: 3.9 seconds. Horsepower: 510 at 6,500rpm. Torque: 442lb ft at 2,500rpm. Numbers that once upon a time would have been strong enough to elevate a supercar to bedroom wall poster status.

The figures look great on paper, but reports suggest that they’re even better when translated to asphalt. I’ve never had the pleasure. The Giulia Quadrifoglio remained on the bucket list, sandwiched between dinner with Keeley Hawes and tackling Route 66 in an AMC Eagle.

I can tick one of those off the list. I haven’t left the country and Keeley won’t return my calls, so that leaves the Giulia Quadrifoglio. A chance to see what all the fuss is about. Where should I go? The Brecon Beacons? Scotland? The Yorkshire Dales? Nope, a business park in Bristol was my destination, within earshot of the M4 and a stone’s throw from Screwfix. Great.

The Alfa was one of 21 cars taking part in the inaugural WLTP Challenge: a driving event designed to prove the effectiveness of the new standardised fuel economy test procedure. In theory, WLTP should be more reflective of real-world driving conditions, rather than the old NEDC figures, which were about as truthful as a party political broadcast.

In the sterile surroundings of a car park in Bristol, the Alfa stood out like a pimple on an adolescent’s face, and not just because of its Competizione Red paint. The other vehicles were, for the most part, designed to be driven by people who nod in agreement to callers to the Jeremy Vine show and live out their days eating carrot cake in garden centre cafes.

Cars built with WLTP regulations in mind. Cars that don’t wear Quadrifoglio badges.

Go rogue or go home

Alfa Romeo Giulia WLTP Challenge

It’s at this point that I should tell you that the Giulia Quadrifoglio has a WLTP figure of 27.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 206g/km. Not too shabby for a four-door saloon powered by a Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged engine. The mission was to meet or exceed that figure over a 220-mile route designed to ‘simulate a typical journey for an employee driving on company business’.

This meant a visit to a Starbucks, lunch at an office block in the West Midlands, a visit to one of those sex shops on the A1, and half an hour in a layby to watch the highlights of the En-ger-land match on YouTube. I skipped the last two, primarily because I may have made them up.

The organisers were at pains to point out that the cars should be driven ‘in a normal way’ to reflect real-world motoring. Looking back, this should have been my invitation to drive the Alfa in the manner a 510hp real-wheel-drive manic saloon should be driven, but fearing for my next freelance commission, I towed the line.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio at Starbucks

What followed was an incredibly frustrating and at times tedious day behind the wheel. Hypermiling can be rewarding, but not, in turns out, when you’re popping your Giulia cherry. The temptation to ‘go rogue’ was ever present – after all, I might not get another opportunity with the fiery Italian.

Wales looked more appealing than lunch in Walsall, while Castle Combe offered greater riches than a slow crawl through the Cotswolds. But the car was being tracked and monitored by a team of big brothers, so I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I was hunted down by a crack crew of environmentalists and shipped home in the back of a Prius.

Skinny lattes and Greta scores

Having prepared for an eco drive, I knew what was required to show the electric, hybrid and diesel vehicles a thing or two about sipping fuel. A skinny latte was ordered to save weight, before I killed the air conditioning, left the optional Harman Kardon sound theatre turned off, and switched my right foot to featherlight mode. Time to spank the economy drive, or something.

Momentum is the key. Every time the car stops, you’ll waste precious fuel getting up to speed. Roundabouts and traffic lights require careful consideration if you’re to avoid stopping, while maintaining a safe distance to the car in front is the key to avoiding any unwanted braking.

Tipping its coppola to Extinction Rebellion, the Giulia features a couple of displays designed to get the most out of the tiny 58-litre fuel tank. One is an eco rating, which monitors your acceleration, braking and gear changes to deliver a kind of ‘Greta score’. At one point, this was as high as 91, although it’s mildly amusing that the system awards its own eight-speed automatic transmission the full 100 points.

Eco rating in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The other is an economy gauge nestled below the dials, which features a sliding scale of fuel consumption. Coast downhill and it shoots to the right; climb a hill and it disappears off to the left.

Hills are the enemy of an eco drive. Twenty miles of hard work can be undone by the slightest incline, sending Greta into a tailspin and putting the nearest petrol station on full alert. Dab the throttle before you climb to give yourself a fighting chance of staying green.

Motorways, on the other hand, are where all your earth dreams come true. Sticking to a steady 60mph saw the Giulia display a rather optimistic 44.1mpg, although this – along with my spirits – dropped as I ventured off the M5 and into the West Midlands. By lunchtime, I had had my fill of eco driving, and not even a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich could lift the mood. Forget WLTP FTW, this was more like WLTP FML.

Home before bedtime?

The route back to Bristol included tortuous motorway traffic and a drive through the Cotswolds on roads that should feel superb in a Giulia Quadrifoglio. Fast sweeping bends, glorious views, wide roundabout exits and long straights combined to create a natural habit for a rear-wheel-drive saloon. But not today, sonny. Today you must follow a line of traffic behind a WLTP challenger in Honda CR-V hybrid doing a steady 42mph on his way to a remarkable 70.08mpg – around 30mpg more than the claimed figure.

The Alfa’s economy after 223 miles: 36.39mpg, which is, as near as makes no difference, a 34 percent improvement on the WTLP figure. Not bad, especially when you consider that the Quadrifoglio is about as far removed from an eco car as I am from enjoying a caesar salad with Ms. Hawes.

But is a 34 percent upshift in economy worth it for all the frustration and torture of being overtaken by a Ford C-Max and tailgated by a Vauxhall Corsa? Of course not.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio at the petrol station

Air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent, so it was switched off. But this results in a sweaty back and the need to open the windows at traffic lights, at which point you breathe in all of those delightful toxins being pushed out by the surrounding lorries. A few years off your life to save a few mpgs – no thanks.

And because the future of eco driving means following a CR-V at a steady 42mph, the nation’s company car drivers will be late home for bedtime stories with their children, which will result in arguments with their partners and the breakdown of relationships. The kids need the Gruffalo, so put your foot down, Mr CR-V.

You’d be better off sticking a Giulia Quadrifoglio in the garage for weekends and holidays, and using a Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line for the daily commute. A chap managed to achieve 56.6mpg on the WLTP Challenge, in a car that’s fun to drive, cheap to buy and, on this evidence, cheap to run.

I can’t tell you a great deal about the Giulia Quadrifoglio, aside from the fact that the superb £3,250 Sparco bucket seats are worth every penny, the infotainment system is painfully poor and the ride comfort is great at 56mph. The car also turns more heads than halitosis.

The problem is, I was so preoccupied with whether or not you can drive a Giulia Quadrifoglio with restraint, I didn’t stop to think if I should. It’s a dinosaur in an age of electrification, but I’d urge you to enjoy cars like the Alfa while you still can. The car deserves more than to be restrained like a tiger on a leash.

Drive it like you’ve stolen the last gallon of fuel. Sorry, Greta.

Economy drive: how to save fuel

How to save fuel

Yesterday, we took part in the WLTP Challenge: a driving event designed to show cars can meet – or exceed – the new standardised WLTP fuel economy figures. The aim: to save fuel.

Our car for the 250-mile challenge was an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a performance car capable of achieving 27.2mpg if your willpower is strong enough to resist unleashing the full fury of its Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged engine.

You can find out if we exceeded the WLTP figure in a future update.

We shared the drive with a representative from the RAC, who was on hand to share some fuel saving tips as we made our way from Bristol to Birmingham and then back again via the Cotswolds. When you’re hypermiling a 510hp Alfa Romeo, every little helps.

Here are eight ways to save fuel, courtesy of the RAC.

Look after your vehicle

Regular maintenance of your vehicle will ensure that it’s working at optimum efficiency, which will improve your fuel economy. Stick to the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, which includes regular oil and filter changes, and be sure to fix any issues as they arise.

You also need to ensure that the tyres are inflated to the correct pressures, so consult the car’s handbook or use one of the many online guides for help. Remember to adjust the tyre pressures depending on the load you’re carrying.

Go easy on the throttle

Alfa Romeo Giulia Eco rating

If our WLTP Challenge experience taught us anything, it’s that feathering the throttle can make a huge difference to your fuel consumption. Slow and gentle acceleration is the key to efficient driving, so avoid any traffic light Grand Prix antics.

Change up a gear as soon as possible, but don’t allow the engine to labour. Experience will tell you when your car is ready for a higher gear – there’s no fixed rule.

While 56mph is often referenced as the optimum speed for fuel economy, the RAC says cars are typically most efficient at 45-50mph.

Maintain momentum

Momentum is the difference between good and excellent fuel economy. During the WLTP Challenge, we found that roundabouts, roadworks, hills and the actions of other drivers can take a serious chunk out of efficiency.

The key is to read the road ahead. If you’re approaching a roundabout, ease off the throttle and see if you can tackle it without stopping. Equally, on a motorway, maintaining a safe distance to the car in front will allow you to react to sudden braking.

Hills are the hypermiler’s worst enemy. Watching the Alfa Romeo’s economy gauge drop to zero was frustrating and almost unavoidable. The RAC says you should accelerate a little before approaching a hill, then ease off as you drive up. Just make sure you’re not creating congestion behind you.

Use cruise control at the right time

Proving real-world fuel economy

Cruise control will only improve fuel economy on a flat surface, so is best reserved for motorways. On the WLTP Challenge, we found that cruise control is slower to react to gradient changes, which means you miss out on some valuable throttle lift-off opportunities.

Motorways offer the best opportunity to maximise fuel economy. On the M5 stretch of the WLTP Challenge, the Alfa Romeo was showing a claimed 44mpg on the digital display. By the time we had completed a mixture of urban and rural roads, we had lost around 10mpg.

Reduce drag

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an empty roof rack adds 16 percent drag when driving at 75mph, while a road box adds 39 percent. Neither of these were fitted to the Giulia, but make sure you remove them from your car when you’ve returned home from holiday.

Opening a window will have a similar effect, especially at higher speeds. In town, at lower speeds, an open window will be more efficient than using air conditioning.

Turn off the air conditioning

Alfa Romeo WLTP Challenge

Speaking of which… The air conditioning uses engine power and therefore increases fuel consumption. If you’re hoping to maximise fuel economy, use it sparingly and when necessary, but be realistic.

Make sure that you use the air conditioning at least once a month, as this keeps the refrigerant flowing and the system lubricated. Failure to do so will result in an expensive repair bill further down the line.

During the WLTP Challenge, we managed to avoid using air conditioning for the majority of the trip, but the system was forced into action when the heavens opened and the windows started to mist up. Saving fuel is one thing, but safety comes first.

Avoid short trips

An engine will operate at its most efficient when it’s warm, so cold starts will increase fuel consumption. Is it possible to combine several short trips into one? Could you cycle, walk or use public transport instead?

Reduce weight

WLTP Challenge sealed

The heavier your vehicle, the more fuel it will use, which is why many manufacturers have removed spare wheels from their cars.

Remove unnecessary items from the boot, as this will improve your economy. You could also use it as an excuse to leave your mother-in-law at home.

Click here to find out what the WLTP car fuel economy test means for you, and be sure to check back for our report on the WLTP Challenge 2019.

How to slice your monthly fuel costs

How to slice your monthly fuel cost

Where do you fill up?

The cost of fuel varies greatly depending on where you buy and who you’re buying from. Paying 123p per litre of petrol instead of 129p equates to 30p per gallon. 

If your car manages 40mpg and you do 800 miles a month, that’s £6 back in your pocket just by being picky about where you buy fuel.

We have an extensive guide and regularly updated guide to finding fuel at the right price.

How do you drive?

How to slice your monthly fuel cost

How you drive is the main factor in much fuel you use. Here’s how changing your behaviour can save you money.

  • Speed

The easiest way to stop burning so much fuel is to slow down. A few miles per hour here and there can make a difference. Speed limits save your wallet as well as your licence.

Figures from the Department for Transport suggest that driving at a steady 50mph instead of 70mph can improve fuel economy by as much as 25 percent. You’ll use around 10 percent more fuel at 80mph than you will at 70mph, too. 

  • Engine revs

Don’t over-rev, either. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to feel in the rev range where your engine is most comfortable. 

The Department for Transport recommends changing up a gear before the rev counter reaches 2,000rpm in a diesel car and 2,500rpm in a petrol. Read the road ahead to ensure you’re not in too high a gear for hills and roundabouts.

Stay safe driving in Europe

  • Smoothness and preparation

By accelerating and decelerating in a smooth and relaxed manner, you can expect to save around 20 percent in fuel. Figures suggest that non-aggressive driving and anticipating the road ahead could see this rise to as much as 30 percent.

Anticipate where stops are coming and let off the throttle to coast down. Last-minute hard braking is a serious waste of energy, unless you’re driving a hybrid. Even then, there are precious yards of distance you were still using fuel where you could have been coasting. 

Keep acceleration smooth, too. How close your right foot is to the floor directly relates to how much fuel is being pumped into the engine.

How to slice your monthly petrol and diesel costs

  •  Fuel-burning features

Turning off air conditioning will improve your fuel economy, but opening windows on the motorway could decrease it. As a guide, keep windows shut at speeds in excess of 60mph. In general, air conditioning will have the greatest impact on your economy at lower speeds, especially during city driving.

Remember, air conditioning can also help de-mist a car, so using it is preferable to leaving the car idling while you wait for windows to clear.

  • Plan your journey

When you drive and which route you take can have as much of an effect on fuel consumption as how you drive. Avoid busy periods, plan shorter or less congested routes. Not only is driving on a clear road a joy, it’s also nice and efficient.

Apps like Waze and Google Maps can help with establishing the best route. And while we’re talking about planning, let’s circle back to ‘Where do you fill up?’ quickly. Whatever you do, don’t fill up at a motorway services. All this is for nothing if you wind up paying 10p a litre over the odds. Start with a cheap full tank and know where your fuel stops will be.

Do you look after your car?

How to slice your monthly fuel cost

Look after your car and it’ll look after your wallet, both in terms of maintenance and fuel costs.

  • Servicing

An engine is only efficient if looked-after. Sticking to service intervals and making sure your fluids are at the correct levels is essential for getting the best performance and economy. A well-maintained car will also last longer.

Consult your handbook to find out when your car is next due a service.

  • Tyres

The tyres are the only bit of the car that touches the road, so they’re important to keep an eye on. Too little tread is dangerous, while too little air is dangerous and expensive.

Research by Continental suggests that tyres account for 20 percent of a car’s total fuel consumption, so it pays to take care of your rubber. Reduce rolling resistance by 10 percent and you can expect a 1.6 percent drop in fuel consumption. 

Make sure you’re car is tracking straight, too, as incorrect alignment can cause unnecessary drag and wear on the tyres.11

How to slice your monthly fuel cost

  • Unnecessary weight

The more your car has to carry, the harder it has to work, which in turn leads to reduced fuel efficiency. While forcing the kids to get a gym membership might be a bit excessive, it’s worth ridding your boot of excess luggage.

The RAC says that, on average, every 50kg you carry will increase your fuel consumption by two percent. That’s based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight, so the smaller the car, the greater the effect.

  • Remove the roof rack

Anything that reduces your car’s aerodynamic performance will have a negative impact on fuel consumption. More figures from the RAC suggest that even an empty roof rack can increase fuel consumption by 10 percent.

Add the additional weight of a fully-loaded roof rack and the net result could seriously hamper your chances of saving money. If it’s not being used – remove it. And that includes the roof bars, too.

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

PSA Peugeot Citroen has revealed the exact methods it uses to calculate real-world fuel economy figures across its range.

The company announced real-world figures for 30 cars across its range earlier in the year, and has said it plans to reveal 20 more by the end of the year.

It’s part of a move to appear more transparent, with PSA being one of a number of manufacturers blaming the official NEDC fuel economy test for generating unachievable MPG figures.

Why is the official NEDC test to blame for unachievable fuel economy figures?

The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) fuel economy test is used to calculate official MPG and CO2 figures for all new cars on sale in Europe.

The test is split into two sections: urban and extra-urban cycles. The first test, the urban cycle, covers a stop/start journey of 2.5 miles at an average speed of 12mph, intended to be representative of driving through a congested town or city. The car starts off cold and touches a maximum top speed of 31mph.

After this test, the now warmed-up car is put through the extra-urban cycle. This covers a distance of 4.3 miles at an average speed of 39mph.

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

The CO2 and fuel economy results for each cycle are then combined to provide the official CO2 and fuel economy figures quoted by manufacturers.

However, the official test has been criticised by consumers and car manufacturers alike. Carried out on a rolling road, it’s not influenced by real-life conditions such as other traffic, weather conditions and driving styles.

Developed before hybrid and electric vehicles were commonplace, it also produces extremely unrealistic fuel economy and CO2 figures for cars such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. As the test takes place when the plug-in hybrid Outlander is freshly charged, it covers most of it under electric power, hence the Outlander’s official 156.9mpg. When the Outlander’s short electric-only range runs out, its real-life fuel economy will be much lower than this figure.

So what’s Peugeot Citroen doing about it?

PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced that, along with the official NEDC tests (a European requirement), it will conduct real-world fuel economy tests across its range, and publish its findings.

To carry out the tests, the car manufacturer is working with environmental organisation Transport & Environment. It tests cars in real-world conditions, stipulating that ambient temperatures must be ‘normal’ (not too hot or too cold), while a set route should be followed.

During the test, 22.8km (14.2 miles and 24.7% of the total distance) must take place in urban areas; 39.6km (24.6 miles and 42.9% of the total distance) on rural roads; and 29.9km (18.6 miles and 32.4% of the total distance) on motorways.

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

Tyres must be inflated to ‘normal’ pressures and the driver should ideally not be a trained driver. The car should be driven exactly as a customer would, with all speed limits adhered to and typical acceleration for the type of car.

The test also requires at least one passenger being carried in the car, with the climate control being set to 21°C.

Transport & Environment’s clean vehicles director, Greg Archer, said: “The real-world test developed with PSA Group provides full transparency towards customers and more representative information to drivers than the new laboratory test, helping them choose the most fuel-efficient cars. This scientific approach is robust, reproducible and reliable in measuring real carbon emissions.

“We urge the European Commission and all carmakers to use this test for regulatory and advertising purposes,” he added.

What are the results of PSA’s real world tests?

So far, 30 Peugeot Citroen models have completed the test, with most averaging around 20mpg below the official NEDC figure. Here’s an example of models tested, with another 20 set to be announced before the end of 2016.

CarReal MPGNEDC MPGDifference
Peugeot 108 1.2 PureTech 8246.3065.6919.39
Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDi 12057.6588.2830.63
Peugeot 508 2.0 BlueHDi 18044.8470.6225.78
Citroen C3 Picasso BlueHDi 10049.5674.3424.78
Citroen C4 Cactus PureTech 11046.3165.6919.38
DS4 PureTech 11052.3174.3422.03

Hot air: the worst cars for real-world CO2 emissions

PorscheSince the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the spotlight has been focused on the real world emissions of cars, rather than those produced in a lab. As Volkswagen proved, you can post exceptional results under test conditions, only for the reality to be very different indeed.

One organisation is taking a lead. Vehicle testing firm Emissions Analytics is checking the tailpipe emissions of every new car on sale, under its EQUA initiative. It’s already published data for NOx and carbon monoxide: now, it has released the findings of its latest tests for CO2 emissions – which shows car brands overall are missing their target by a whopping 39%. And some are worse still…

The British company’s number-crunching has created two figures: an indication the actual real-world CO2 for all cars on sale, plus a ‘variance factor’ that reveals by how much the real world varies from the official figure. Call this an ‘honesty rating’: 1 is most honest, 5 is least honest.

All new cars are sold with a quoted CO2 figure, which is used to calculate road tax and company car tax. But as Emissions Analytics shows, the cars of certain brands are performing far worse in reality than the figure suggest…

The car manufacturers with the highest real-world CO2

Emissions Analytics

First, to the car brands that produce the most CO2 in the real world, as opposed to a sterile and fully-controlled test bench. These makes of car are, simply put, the very biggest emitters of CO2. They’re the global warming anti-heroes.

10: Audi – 191g/km


Surprisingly, for all its TDI diesel engines and e-tron plug-in hybrids, it’s Audi that has the 10th highest real-world CO2 figure. Blame all those big Q5s and Q7s, plus the R8 supercar? Well, yes, but also blame an EQUA variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 2.7 over what its official NEDC figures state and how the cars perform in real life. Remember, 1 is most honest and 5 is least honest.

9: Jeep – 200g/km


Jeep is an SUV manufacturer. It makes big, thirsty 4x4s. So it’s perhaps no surprise to see it appear in the CO2 emissions bad books. It’s not all bad news though: when Jeep says it’s bad in official figures, the real-world figures at least prove it’s being honest – its variance factor is just 1.1, compared to Audi’s 2.7.

8: SsangYong – 206g/km


Nearly all of SsangYong’s cars are big, too: the smallest car it makes is the Nissan Qashqai-rivalling Tivoli. Jeep’s are generally bigger though, and both its overall CO2 figure and the real-world variance over claims are better than SsangYong’s…

7: Jaguar – 207g/km


Jaguar’s cars are sporty and premium. The XE has yet to have a big impact on the range, so its overall brand CO2 is driven up by the XF, the F-Type, the XJ. CO2 emissions that vary by 2.5 times over official figures aren’t so clever either, though.

6: Lexus – 211g/km


Jaguar produces less CO2 than Lexus? Hang on a minute, surely that’s not right – Lexus is the brand of the hybrid, after all? Well, yes, but it’s also a brand that sells a lot of RX SUVs. A lower variance factor of 1.9 isn’t enough to offset that – oh, and the fact it doesn’t sell CO2-cutting diesels, either.

5: Infiniti – 213g/km


This is a poor result for Infiniti. According to Emissions Analytics, its quoted CO2 figures underplay the real-world CO2 of its cars by an ‘honesty factor’ of 3.6. The everyday CO2 of its cars is a stonking 213g/km, meaning it puts out more carbon dioxide as a brand than 4×4 specialist Jeep. We thought this brand was meant to be the smart-thinker’s alternative?

4: Subaru – 214g/km


Subaru’s turbo boxer engines sound good in the real world, but you’re best listening to them from a safe distance: their actual CO2 emissions are much higher than the claimed figures.

3: Land Rover – 223g/km

Land Rover

Like Jeep, Land Rover only makes SUVs. Big, posh, heavy SUVs, like the Range Rover and Discovery. The Evoque has helped bring down its range-average CO2 figures, but a variance factor of 2.6 pushes it back up again: bronze medal in the list of manufacturers with the highest real-world CO2.

2: Porsche – 240g/km


Porsche’s sports cars are naturally rather thirsty, and so naturally put out a lot of CO2. Even the slowest, cheapest 911 does 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – you don’t get such performance without using a bit more fuel than average. Its range CO2 figures are pushed up further in the real world due to a variance factor of 2.0 over what it claims, too.

1: Aston Martin – 314g/km

Aston Martin

It’s perhaps no surprise to find a supercar manufacturer tops the list of the brands with the highest real-world CO2. Aston Martin’s cars all have V8s and V12s, after all. What’s positive for the brand is that its variance factor is a mere 1.0 – it says it’s bad, but it’s very honest when it says this, too.

And now it’s onto the brands whose CO2 figures mysteriously show the biggest variance in the real world compared to what they can achieve in the lab – this is precisely what let Volkswagen down…

The car manufacturers with the biggest real-world variance to official CO2 figures


Car manufacturers blame the flawed NEDC test. Campaign groups say there’s something fishy going on. Experts say brands have simply learnt how to best perfect cars to do well in the very-limited-scope official emissions test, without resorting to cheating.

Whatever the reason, there’s no denying the real-world results are often very different to what’s officially claimed in the legislated CO2 figures. And here are the worst offenders – the brands with the worst ‘honesty ratings’.

Chrysler – 3.1 times variance factor


American brand Chrysler benefits from being part of Fiat, which includes sharing Fiat engines. Which, according to Emissions Analytics, aren’t quite as green in real life as the test figures claim. Another reason for the brand being withdrawn from the UK?

Peugeot – 3.1 times variance factor


Peugeot’s real-world CO2 figures also vary over claimed statistics by a hefty factor of 3.1. And this, from a brand that’s committed to releasing real-world economy statistics for its cars. How long before customers force it to cut down this yawning variance?

Renault – 3.1 times variance factor


Renault’s HQ was raided by investigators looking into evidence of emissions test skulduggery. We’ve heard nothing since so clearly there’s nothing to report – but news of a real-world variance factor of 3.1 over claimed figures should still provide food for thought.

Volvo – 3.2 times variance factor


Volvo prides itself on being a safe, upstanding brand, and part of this sensible-shoes image is serving up great MPG and low CO2 figures. This image takes a bit of a dent, though, as Emissions Analytics finds an honesty rating of 3.2 over what it says and what real-world figures say.

Fiat – 3.4 times variance factor


Fiat’s range is dominated by small cars such as the 500 and Panda, models that will be bought to use mainly in city centres and to save fuel. Pity, then, the honesty rating of 3.4 suggests the real-world CO2 is not very likely to come close to what the official figures say…

Ford – 3.4 times variance factor


This is a significant result, because Ford is Britain’s best-selling car brand. According to Emissions Analytics, its CO2 figures have a variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 3.4 compared to the official claimed NEDC figures, indicating that in the real world, its cars are not very likely to get close to the official stats.

Infiniti – 3.6 times variance factor


Remember, Infiniti emits one of the highest amounts of CO2: a variance factor of 3.6 suggests it’s less honest in the real world than the figures say it is. It’s not an enviable position for the premium challenger to be.

Alfa Romeo – 3.6 times variance factor

Alfa Romeo

Alfa joins Infiniti on the third-place spot in the honesty rating league table. The firm has to date sold just two cars, the Giulietta and the Mito: will the arrival of the fancy new Giulia help improve matters for the sporty Italian brand? It’s also significant in being the third Fiat Auto brand in the bottom 10…

DS – 4.7 times variance factor


The second-worst car brand for real-world CO2 diverging from the official figures is posh Citroen sister company DS. As Citroen itself isn’t among the bottom 10 (indeed, the C3 diesel is the only car to achieve the best-possible A1 rating), we’re not quite sure why this is so – perhaps the diesel-hybrid DS 5 is having an effect? Whatever the cause, it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying a DS with low CO2 in mind.

Smart – 5.0 times variance factor


The least honest brand for real-world CO2 figures? Surprisingly, it’s Smart – makers of the urban-hero Fortwo city car. Smart’s real-world CO2 is the furthest from the official rating of any manufacturer on sale, by the maximum-possible variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 5.0, which means its real-world fuel economy is likely to be least like the glowing official stats as well. You may think you’re doing your bit for global warming by choosing a Smart, but the planet in reality might not thank you.

Nissan IDS Concept

Nissan confirms talks to buy into Mitsubishi

Nissan IDS ConceptNissan has confirmed it is in “advanced talks” with Mitsubishi to buy a stake in the firm, with sources suggesting Nissan is looking to buy a controlling stake in the crisis-hit car maker.

UPDATE: Nissan has now confirmed it is buying a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for $2.2 billion (£1.5 billion). Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn vowed in a press conference to help restore trust in Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi fuel economy test scandal: Q&A

Mitsubishi fuel economy tests ‘incorrect since 1991’

Mitsubishi reveals fuel economy test misconduct

Nissan is significantly larger that Mitsubishi, which admitted in April it has been overstating fuel economy through rigging official fuel economy tests. Mitsubishi’s stock has plummeted by more than 40% since news of the fuel economy test scandal broke, wiping £2 billion off its value.

Ironically it was Nissan that discovered Mitsubishi was overstating fuel economy, when it assessed joint venture minicars built by Mitsubishi for the two companies.

Mitsubishi has since discovered it’s been overstating Japanese market fuel economy for 25 years.

“Nissan and Mitsubishi are discussing various matters including capital co-operation, but nothing has been decided,” said the two companies in earlier statements.


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Mitsubishi cars

Mitsubishi fuel economy test scandal – Q&A

Mitsubishi carsMitsubishi has admitted cheating fuel economy tests dating back to 1991 and the Japanese car company has now set up an independent investigation committee to establish just what’s been going on.

Since the news broke that 625,000 Kei cars had been given falsified fuel economy figures, Mitsubishi has lost around half the market value. It seems more bad news is likely to emerge in coming days too as attention focuses on the sixth-largest Japanese car company’s fuel economy test procedures.

Here’s what we know so far about the Mitsubishi fuel economy test cheat crisis.

What has Mitsubishi done?

Mitsubishi has overstated fuel economy figures of four cars sold on the Japanese market: the Mitsubishi eK Wagon and eK Space, and the Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox.

Not only has testing not been conducted correctly, it was also done in a way different to that required by Japanese law – something that has infuriated Japanese ministers who have said such manipulation is “extremely serious”.

How did Mitsubishi cheat the test?

It seems misconduct centred around the running resistance value test cars were subjected to. This rolling road resistance mimics two things – the rolling resistance, largely from the tyres, and the effect of air resistance when vehicles are moving: cars are tested stationary in labs where there’s no wind resistance, so it has to artificially be applied.

An analyst put it more bluntly: Mitsubishi appears to have over-inflated the tyres to cut rolling resistance and thus artificially inflate fuel economy.

What effect would this have had on official figures?

Experts say this practice may have artificially inflated Mitsubishi fuel economy figures by around 5-10%.

Are the cars with dodgy fuel economy figures still on sale?

No – when news of the scandal broke, Mitsubishi immediately stopped production and sales of the eK models. Nissan has also stopped selling the Dayz models (and is now in discussions with Mitsubishi over compensation).

Who discovered the fuel economy test cheat?

Ironically, it was Nissan that discovered the fuel economy test misconduct, during initial development for the successor to these cars. It took evidence of the deviations to Mitsubishi, which discovered things were amiss.

Is anything else amiss with Mitsubishi’s fuel economy test procedures?

Separate to this misconduct, further revelations about how Mitsubishi carries out fuel economy testing in Japan have emerged.

Japanese fuel economy test regulations are configured differently to tests in other parts of the world to better reflect the stop-start city-style driving commonplace in Japanese driving. Remarkably, when they changed, Mitsubishi admits it did not follow this rule change.

So how long has Mitsubishi been doing this?

Alarmingly then, Mitsubishi has admitted it’s been testing fuel economy this way for a quarter of a century. “For the domestic market, we have been using that method since 1991,” said Mitsubishi vice-president Ryugo Nakao at a press conference. The regulations changed: Mitsubishi testing did not change to reflect it.

Are other Mitsubishis affected?

Mitsubishi says it’s thus likely other Japanese market cars are affected: “During our internal investigation, we have found the testing method which was different from the one required by Japanese law has been applied to other models manufactured by Mitsubishi for the Japanese domestic market.”



Does it involve emissions cheating like the Volkswagen scandal?

This is an issue related to fuel economy test figures, not emissions. While any official emissions figures may well be different once fuel economy is restated, this will be an incremental addition – unlike Volkswagen, Mitsubishi has not been employing ‘cheat’ devices that alter the engine to get back emissions regulations.

Thus far, the Mitsubishi scandal is also related to petrol cars, not diesels – and petrol cars generally meet emissions regulations with ease.


So if Japanese cars are affected, do UK Mitsubishis have dodgy fuel economy figures?

Mitsubishi says this issue is restricted to the Japanese market: there is no evidence cars sold in Europe and the U.S. are affected.

European cars are tested according to the NEDC fuel economy test cycle, which itself is largely agreed to be outdated – but it is an independent test that all cars sold in Europe must pass. Manufacturers cannot overstate fuel economy: when they do, as Volkswagen discovered last year, clarifications must be issued when it is discovered.

What is Mitsubishi doing about it?

Mitsubishi, after expressing “its most sincere apologies to all of our customers, shareholders, and stakeholders,” has set up a special investigation committee that’s fully independent from the company itself.

It will have three members – all attorneys of law – who will fully investigate the matter, see if there’s any other improper conduct at play within Mitsubishi, and then reveal both the cause and suggested remedial action to prevent it happening again.

They’ll report back in three months’ time.

Mitsubishi logo

Mitsubishi fuel economy tests have been incorrect since 1991 – report

Mitsubishi logoMitsubishi fuel economy test procedures have not been compliant with Japanese regulations since 1991, an unnamed source has revealed.

Reuters says the leaked news was first reported to Japanese business title Nikkei: Mitsubishi is to hold a press conference briefing on the matter later today.

It is said the firm compiled its fuel economy data using U.S. standards, which involves more high-speed driving, rather than Japanese standards which demand more stop-start inner-city driving. Japanese standards generally deliver worse economy figures than U.S. standards.

The latest Mitsubishi revelation follows last week’s admission that it overstated the fuel economy of four city cars, sold under both the Mitsubishi and Nissan brands.

Since then, the firm – Japan’s sixth-largest vehicle manufacturer – has lost half its market value.

Manipulation of fuel-efficiency tests is “extremely serious,” Japanese transport minister Keiichi Ishii told reporters yesterday after a cabinet meeting, reports Bloomberg.

More news as we get it

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Europe’s car makers concede: ‘We know the fuel economy test is obsolete’

Opel Vauxhall AstraEuropean car manufacturers have responded to recent tests by the British and German transport authorities by saying they know the test cycle is outdated – and for them, the new, more real-world test can’t come soon enough.

Representing Europe’s 15 vehicle makers, The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said it’s actually “been advocating for many years an updated laboratory test… as well as an additional new test to measure pollutant emissions on the road”, according to ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert.

Both are coming. A new, more representative fuel economy test called WLTP – World Harmonized Light Test Cycle and Procedures – is due to take force next year, replacing the current outdated NEDC test.

The second real-world test, called Real Driving Emissions (RDE), is due to arrive then too, although the European Commission is taking a step-by-step approach in approving it – and two key packages to help car makers start preparing for RDE are still missing and “urgently needed to complete the legislation”.

As it stands, the EC aims to present the third package in October 2016 and the fourth, final package by early 2017. Car makers, it seems, want confirmation to come sooner: the legislation is due to go live for all newly-launched cars by September 2017, and all vehicles on sale by 2019.

A few campaign groups have already speculated that delays in gaining approval could see the WLTP and RDE tests delayed.

When they go live, car makers will have to minimise the discrepancy between WLTP lab test figures and RDE real-world figures to a maximum of 110%, which will fall to a maximum of 50% by January 2020. Currently, the discrepancy can be as much as 400%.

“These results show again that we now need to move forward with the new testing conditions in order to bridge the gap with the lab test,” said Jonnaert.

“RDE represents a tremendous effort for Europe’s car manufacturers, both in terms of investments and production, but our industry will take up this challenge.”