Recently, I dropped my daughter off at her school which is 60 miles away from where I live. The trip computer said I had a range of 12 miles and I knew I'd be passing no petrol stations on the way.
So how do you make a car with fuel for 12 miles cover 60? Especially when the car in question is a BMW M3with a 400 horsepower, 4.0 litre V8.
The newspapers at the moment are full of advice on how to get the maximum number of miles to the gallon and I'm afraid none of it is really relevant.
They say, for instance, that you should remove your roof rack, but the last people to use such a thing in Britain died in 1974. On their way to watch the latest Carry On film.
They also say you should remove the spare wheel and jack. Oh come on. By all means remove any soggy rolled up carpets you may have in the boot - that will make a difference - but dispensing with the spare is as daft as dispensing with your left leg. One day, you're going to need it.
The simple fact of the matter is this; To save fuel, all you need to do is think ahead. Way, way ahead.
- If you see the lights ahead are red, take your foot off the throttle immediately. If you wait and then use your brakes you are simply wasting the fuel you used to achieve a speed you didn't need. Remember, a modern engine uses no fuel at all when it's coasting in gear.
- If your car has cruise control, ignore it. Cruise control is a blunt instrument for Americans. Rely on something more sensitive: your foot. Speaking of which, don't drive in big shoes. They take away the sensitivity you need.
- Think carefully about what electrical appliances you need. Even Terry Wogan takes a dibble of power from the engine. And that's power which is costing you £1.18 a litre.
- Never use your heated rear window unless you can't see a thing. It's the same story with your headlights. And don't use the air conditioning either. Switch it off and in a normal family saloon, your fuel consumption will drop by as much as 12 per cent. That's a big, big saving.
- Next. Speed. Wind it down. You don't need to do 25 mph, but instead of doing 80 on the motorway, try 75. Or if you normally do 120, try 110.
- 56 mph, by the way, really is the optimum speed for good fuel consumption in most cars. Don't try this in villages though or you will have to spend some time in a prison.
- When going downhill, ease your throttle down and work with gravity to build up speed. Then, use that momentum to get you up the other side. Using the throttle going up hill is bad.
- When leaving the lights, accelerate smartly. Not like a bat out of hell. But don't dawdle. Get the car into top gear as quickly as is reasonable. Fifth gear, remember, is no good at all.
- Don't buy a Toyota Prius.
I followed all these guidelines in the M3 and managed to get home. And here's the really interesting bit. The journey back, in eco mode, took only six minutes more than the journey there.
Edited by Antonis12, 25 June 2008 - 09:37 AM.