Let’s Go a Hundred: That’s mpg, not mph
It would be easy, or so I thought. But getting a ton out of this car on public roads was proving really difficult. My chosen 12-mile (19.3km) circular route flowed along country lanes with few other drivers about. Jam sandwiches rarely ventured along here, which is just as well because any police officer would suspect I was drunk by driving in such a manner. But perseverance began to pay off. The digital display on the dashboard was creeping higher: 70, 80 and 90 in places. Then, after several laps, it turned from 99 to 100 and more. But sustaining that performance over more than a mile was impossible.
The reason for this escapade was to address the complaint that crops up whenever motoring is discussed: you can’t get anything like the miles per gallon from a car that the manufacturer claims. The reason is that the official figures come from a European test procedure, carried out in laboratory conditions with the car on a rolling road. It is a consistent way of measuring things, but it bears no relation to real life.
What I wanted to discover was not just what it took to match the official consumption of one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, but if I could beat it. My target was a real average consumption of 100mpg (2.8 litres per 100km). If that is possible, then the age of everyday ton-up cars cannot be far away.