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Sunday 23 October 2016

Does your car cost you €1,200 more in fuel a year than it says?

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

tom biz may 3
tom biz may 3

Drivers are spending as much as €1,200 extra per year on diesel or petrol than they expect to because most new cars are burning through fuel a lot faster than their makers say they are.

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Only three out of 200 new cars are as fuel efficient as they claim to be, according to an investigation recently published by Which? magazine, the British consumer publication

The magazine tested the brochure claims of 200 brand new cars with regard to fuel consumption. They looked at fuel efficiency - which of course indicates of how much you can expect to pay on petrol or diesel. In some cases, Which? found cars were half as fuel efficient as the manufacturers claimed.

The car that performed worst was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. That car overstated its mpg by 120pc, which would result in €642 a year in unexpected fuel costs, according to the Which? tests.

"However, the car that hit its owners' pockets the hardest was the Jeep Grand Cherokee," said the report. "Based on Which? tests, drivers will shell out up to €1,194 a year more on fuel. Other cars that will cost owners a lot more to fuel are the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe (€589), BMW X4 (€586) and Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid (€492)."

The tests used by car makers are outdated, contains some loopholes that lead to unrealistic figures, and don't accurately reflect real-life scenarios such as motorway driving, said the magazine.

Car makers reject suggestions that they are misleading consumers with their mpg figures, stating that the figures should simply be used as a guide when buying a car - and won't always reflect everyday driving conditions. Manufacturers also argue that they follow EU rules when testing the fuel efficiency of cars - though many agree that the current tests are outdated.

"The current test regime for emissions and fuel consumption is outdated and does the industry no favours - but the suggestion that we in some way are misleading car buyers is well wide of the mark and irresponsible," said Lance Bradley, managing director of Mitsubishi Motors UK.

A spokesman for Volvo said that all manufacturers are "duty bound" to report results based on these tests, "so it is not misleading for Volvo to report findings based on these rules".

A spokesman for Jeep said it is "compelled to publish" the results of the tests, while a spokesman for BMW said it can be possible for drivers of its cars to "exceed the quoted mpg figures depending on driving style, traffic, weather and other factors".

A new fuel-efficiency test, which is expected to more accurately reflect everyday driving conditions, is due to be introduced across the EU in 2017. In the meantime, what can you do to ensure you are more fuel efficient?

Buy the right car

The models that beat or matched their mpg claims (according to Which?) include the 5-door Skoda Yeti 2-litre diesel (170bhp) automatic 4x4, the 4-door Mazda 3 Fastback 2-litre manual petrol (118bhp) and the 5-door Skoda Roomster 1.2-litre manual petrol (105bhp). You could consider one of these cars if fuel efficiency is your priority.

Keep your speed down

Cruising at 128km an hour can use up to 25pc more fuel than if you keep your speed below 113km an hour, according to the British Automobile Association.

Drive smoothly

"Driving style has a big effect on mpg," said Padraic Deane, editor of "Don't accelerate or break fast. In manual diesel cars, you should change gear before you hit 2,000 revolutions per minute (rpm); or before 2,500 rpm if it's a petrol model."

Plan your journey

Stopping and starting your car regularly will guzzle through more fuel than an uninterrupted run. So avoid traffic jams and traffic lights and choose your routes carefully when going on long journeys.

Motorways may save you time - but they won't always save on fuel.

"Driving at the speed limit on a motorway will probably use up more fuel than driving at the lower speed limit on a national or regional road, as you'll be pushing the engine more," said Mr Deane.

Of course, whether you save on fuel by driving on national or regional roads instead of motorways will also depend on how many traffic jams and other interruptions you run into.

Travel light

"A roof rack will cost you in fuel because of the wind catching the car," said Mr Deane. "Leaving the golf clubs in the boot when you don't need them will also hike up your fuel bill."

Check tyre pressure

Ensuring you have the right pressure in your tyres should help keep your fuel bill down - as will servicing your car regularly and turning off the air conditioning.

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