We have decided to dedicate this page to Europe's best mpg cars, although this also applies to other parts of the world too.
With out much doubt, we could say that one of the most important selling factors in a vehicle is its mile per gallon figures. While vehicle technology is paramount to the safety of passengers (and a great selling feature), we always seem to go back to the same ol' question of “How fuel efficient is that car and how much can it save me over x number of years?”.
Without further ado, we list the 10 most fuel economical automobiles in Europe.
Peugeot 308 Blue HDi
Vauxhall / Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTi ecoflex
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion
Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi
Renault Clio 1.5 dCi
Skoda Octavia Greenline
Ford Fiesta Econetic
Vauxhall / Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTi
SEAT Leon Ecomotive
*Note: These figures have been obtained through searching the Internet. Opinions may vary, however, it is a close approximation of some of the most fuel efficient cars to date in Europe. When we refer to fuel we mean either Petrol or Diesel.
Let's face it, how accurate are these mpg figures anyway? I am sure many have read up on other vehicles with superior fuel efficiency figures that deserves to be placed on the podium, right? That is percisely the point. All these fuel efficiency figures (and not to mention CO2 figures) are all skewed thanks to Europe's driving cycle, otherwise known as the New European Driving Cycle
The NEDC test defines the official mpg and CO2 figures for light vehicles such as your car. These are the figures that car manufacturers require in order to show on their marketing, and also the figures that you as consumers are given by car dealers.
There is plenty of controversy surrounding the NEDC, particularly the fact the last time it was updated, was back in 1997, which makes it no longer fit for purpose. The arguement being, it no longer accounts for modern engines that include such technology as hybrid power, adaptive driving modes and start-stop features amongst others.
The discrepancy between the test figures and real world driving condition figures are steadily climbing year by year, were some say has reached up to 40%. So what does that mean? Well, it means that your car can be upto 40% less efficient than what is on the sticker or what your car dealer tells you.
Let us take a look below and get a better idea as to why this is happening and the so called "legal" tricks manufacturers are getting up to, to make their figures look better.
Higher than recommended tyre pressure reduces roll resitance for better fuel economy
Removal of roof rails, door mirrors, extra lights etc is permitted, making the vehicle lighter.
Forcing the brake pads fully into the callipers to reduce roll resistance for better mpg figures.
Factors such as road type/surface, weather and traffic conditions are not considered.
Use of special non-standard lubrication with careful lubrication helps with a smoother running vehicle.
Vehicles are only tested for 10 secs at 75mph. Therefore no sustained motorway driving, which is where most vehicles are least efficient.
All auxiliary loads such as head lights, air conditioning, radio etc are turned off, giving better mpg figures.
Vehicle manufacurers invest their R&D in making their vehicles efficient for the test rather than real world driving.
Taping over indentations and/or protrusions to reduce drag and therefore improved aerodynamics for better fuel consumption.
Car manufacturers can disconnect the alternator to prevent the battery from charging up, reducing energy use and save on fuel.
So we can see why many are saying that the NEDC is far from ideal (understatement) as being the test used for simulating real world driving conditions... and remember the above are only some examples of the manipulation that is going on.
The fact is that nothing much can be done for the time being. However, in 2017 a new driving cycle called the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP) will be replacing the NEDC in order to better simulate real world driving conditions. The time has finally come to say "Out with the old and in with the new".
But the question is, how much better will the WLTP be at simulating real world driving conditions? Some argue that the WLTP is still very much a lab test and will not come close to simulating real world driving conditions and that the only way it can be done is by actually driving on the roads while testing (makes sense, right?).
It is estimated that the discrepancy between the WLTP and real world driving will be about 28%, meaning your car will actually be 28% less fuel efficient than what the manufacturer says... that is a lot better than the NEDC's 40% discrepancy, but is it enough?
One of the first van leasing companies in the UK, established back in 1992. This was an interesting one after finding their infographics on the NEDC. Find out more about the connection between leasing and the NEDC.
An independent nonprofit organization founded to provide first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators. Their mission: to improve environmental performance / energy efficiency of general transportation.
An organisations whose mission is to promote at EU and global level a transport policy that minimise harmful impacts on the environment and health, maximise efficiency of resources, including energy and land, and guarantee safety and sufficient access for all.
Our business is in leasing vans and we have become increasingly concerned with the "Official" MPG and CO2 figures stated by manufacturers.
Our strong suit is in providing as much information in order to help our clients find the van that suits them, and as you can image, a vehicle's fuel efficiency is paramount. We find two factors popping up when discussing with our potential clients the van they want... and that is reliability and fuel efficiency. Back in the day, we used to simply state the official figures manufactures supplied (the ones obtained through the NEDC test). At that time the discrepancies between the test and real driving conditions were not that bad. It was very much so a like for like test, meaning that even though the results may not have been true to real life driving results, all vehicles were tested under the same conditions. Now we feel that the test is so out-dated and unable to deal with technological advancement that this "like for like" comparison no longer applies. There are so many loopholes and different ways to "legally" cheat the system, that if one manufacturer finds better ways to make their car perform better during the test (such as VW did with their defeat device), they are able to make their car achieve greater mpg and CO2 results than the next manufacturer whose car may indeed be more efficient in real life driving.
Therefore, resolving this issue is a must in our eyes. We simply want to provide our clients with the best service possible, as leasing commercial vehicles goes beyond just calculating a montly payment plan. It is very much to do with the vehicle's performance as a whole. We therefore look forward to the WLTP replacing the NEDC and hope it will resolve many of the current issues.
From a personal standpoint, there were three particular questions that I seeked answers for, and I was fortunate enough to find those answers in an ICCT report that I stumbled across when surfing the net. Here is access to the ICCT report.
Question 1: If the NEDC mpg discrepancy is about 40% compared to real world driving, then what will the estimated WLTP discrepancy be?
According to the ICCT report, it is estimated that the WLTP decrepancy will be approximately 23% compared to real world driving. This of course is a considerable improvement to true mpg figures, but is it enough?
Question 2: If the CO2 levels are understated on the NEDC test cycle, that would imply the WLTP test (which is more accurate) will record higher levels of CO2. Does that mean vehicle tax rates will increase as a result?
This will very much depend on the individual member state. Generally, CO2 emissions under WLTP will be higher than under NEDC. Hence, if the member state will not change its taxation scheme and if the scheme is based on CO2 emissions, then vehicle taxes are indeed likely to increase somewhat.
Question 3: I often wondered if the introduction of the WLTP is welcomed or considered a somewhat patched up solution the the NEDC?
On the ICCT report, they state: The results presented suggest that while the WLTP will provide a significant improvement in the real world emissions gap and providing savings of millions of tonnes per year in the UK relative to a continuation of the NEDC, a further move towards independent in-use conformity and on-road testing will be needed to fully close the gap
After a little digging around, I came across the Transport & Environment, who want the EU to be a global leader in reducing the environmental impacts of all forms of transport. They also want pricing that makes polluters pay for pollution, not society as a whole...a very interesting concept, particularly in respect to the NEDC and car manufactures manipulating test results. Can we not argue as consumers, we are paying the price for having to fuel up more often and consequently pollute the environment more so, simply because we are being miss-sold the efficiency of our cars?
So we decided to ask the Transport & Environment some questions on the NEDC... we think you will find their answers interesting.
Question 1: Due to the loopholes within the NEDC, is it felt manufacturers spend their R&D on manufacturing vehicles that perform well on the test rather than for real world driving, consequently resulting in lower R&D costs and more profit margins?
Yes, at present carmakers do not have to invest a lot in R&D in order to pass the NEDC because the test is outdated and easy to pass, while meeting CO2 and air pollution standards in real-world driving would require much more investment. In the case of air pollution, the loopholes are so great that the carmakers can still meet the latest Euro 6 standards using the cheaper lean NOx trap technology rather than using the better (and more expensive) selective catalytic reduction that cuts pollution on the road.
Question 2: Although the WLTP is closer to replicating real world driving (compared to the NEDC), it still does not come close. Are there any reasons as to why vehicles cannot be tested on a track / road that simulates real world driving conditions in order to eliminate most of the loopholes manufacturers take advantage of?
No, there is no reason why cars can’t be tested on the road in the future – the technology/equipment to do so is already widely available. Real-world tests can and should be used for CO2 in the future just as they will be used for testing for air-polluting emissions from 2017. One difference to be overcome is that for air pollution each car tested must meet the Euro 6 standard according to EU law, but for CO2 targets carmakers must only meet the fleet average targets. So there must be a methodology for averaging a car's real-world CO2 emissions across its whole fleet average, but devising this will not be a problem and is already being discussed.
T&E and PSA Peugeot Citroën have agreed to work together to measure and publicise real-world fuel economy figures this year. The aim is to design such a real-world test for CO2 with the carmaker and thus show that it is feasible.
Question 3: In your opinion, what is the most surprising / shocking "legal cheat" manufacturers are getting away with within the current NEDC test?
Carmakers do not have to have their vehicles tested from a cold start, where air pollutant emissions (NOx in particular) are typically higher than at other points while driving. As this is not regulated, most carmakers charge the starter battery 100% before the test thus saving much fuel (and hence CO2), while in everyday driving any trip would start with part of fuel being used to warm up/charge the battery. Further to that, the NEDC procedure allows carmakers to knock down 4% from an actual emissions measurement in a laboratory, without any legitimate reason for doing so. The provision was designed to minimise the testing burden in the past but most data logging is done digitally nowadays and is instead being abused by carmakers to declare lower test results systematically. Equally ridiculous is a rule that allows the coastdown test (to simulate a vehicle’s road load as it is tested in a lab) to be conducted on a sloped test track, and testing a vehicle downhill will always give lower emission results.
So there we have it, some information on the descrepancies and loopholes with the NEDC test cycle, the new WLTP test cycle to replace the NEDC and some interesting information provided by experts on the matter.
As a result of all this gathered information, it inspired me to create my own infographic on the subject matter (as seen below)