Fuel economy – your real MPG

With petrol prices rising, many drivers are looking to buy more fuel efficient cars. All manufacturers now advertise their cars’ economy – but it might not be the same as what you’ll actually get.

Fuel economy is measured in miles per gallon (MPG) and all manufacturers are legally obliged to tell you the rating for each of their cars. But when you drive the car away, you’re unlikely to get the full MPG advertised.

That’s because it’s measured by the European Commission (AC) using a standardised test. It’s the best measure they have, but it doesn’t take into account normal driving conditions.

The European test

The EC’s test is carried out in a lab and it trials different driving conditions.

When you’re on the road there are a number of other things which could impact the fuel economy:

  • the weather
  • people or baggage in the car adding weight
  • your driving style

While it may not be 100% accurate, the EC test is a good comparison of different cars as they’re all tested using the same method. So you might be comparing a car with 65MPG to one with 50MPG – you might not get these figures on the road, but you’ll still get a better economy with the first one.

Your ‘real’ MPG

There is a way to find out a more realistic figure for your car’s MPG by finding out what other drivers get with the same model.

Thousands of drivers every year submit their own figures to HonestJohn.co.uk (opens in a new window) based on the economy they’re getting with their car. It’s a good way of seeing how efficient a car is in real driving conditions.

Of course, whatever MPG other drivers are getting, the fuel economy you’ll get is still affected by your driving style.

Taking the car out on lots of short trips, accelerating quickly and braking sharply can all use up more fuel than driving at a steady, controlled pace.

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