A total of 46 competitors took part in this year’s MPG Marathon and, for the second year running, a Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi won the race thanks to some great eco-driving from Leicestershire County Council employees, Nick Chapman and Rosemary Homer. The 2013 event had been touted by organisers as being the toughest yet, as it saw the introduction of a new ‘navigational scatter’ format, meaning competitors not only had to work out the best route between the start and finish points, they also had to visit a number of fixed points along the way - in short, get from A to B, via C, D and possibly E.
And so the fact that a pair of debutants won the race came as a surprise to everyone. The fact they had never met before the event made the result even more remarkable, but also proved you don’t have to be an eco-driving expert to squeeze more miles from your tank. Put forward for the event by Jonathan Clarkson, head of Leicestershire County Council’s Road Safety unit, the two eventual winners achieved an impressive average of 88.69mpg over the course of their 339.3-mile journey. And remember, this 88.69mpg was achieved in real-world driving conditions and not on a rolling road with the tyres pumped hard and the wing mirrors removed, as is often the case when manufacturers work out one of their car’s mpg for the purposes of glitzy advertising campaigns. In second place was a Renault Clio dCi 90, which managed to clock 87.36mpg thanks to the expert handling of former Top Gear presenter Sue Baker. Third place went to a Honda Civic 1.6i-DTEC which achieved 84.87mpg after some great driving from Mark Armstrong-Read of Derbyshire NHS trust (what is it with civil servants and fuel consumption?). Ross Durkin, MPG Marathon organiser, said: “Once again we recorded some excellent driving performances, but the conditions were really tough this year, with strong northerly winds throughout the event, long hills to climb and heavy traffic in places. “Under the circumstances, Nick and Rosemary’s performance was all the more remarkable as they’ve never taken part in an economy driving event before.”
More MPG Marathon winners In addition to the main event, the MPG marathon also featured a series of sub-categories, one of which was the ‘percentage improvement’ category, which challenged drivers to beat their car’s official fuel consumption figures by the greatest margin possible. This section was won by a Peugeot 208 GTi, which managed to get 59.39mpg thanks to the driving of MPG Marathon veterans John Kendall and Paul Nieuwenhuis. This represented an improvement of 23.99% over the official consumption figure of 47.9mpg. And to highlight how much of an achievement this was, the second and third placed cars in this category could only manage improvements of 10.41% and 8.12%, respectively. The commercial vehicle category was won by a Ford Fiesta Sport Van, driven by BBC transport correspondent Paul Clifton and his son, Doug, who drove 363.9 miles on just 3.33 gallons of Shell FuelSave diesel – averaging a staggering 108.82mpg.
The whole point of the MPG Marathon is to show how better fuel consumption and, in turn, savings can be achieved by any driver. So how can you make sure you’re getting the best mpg from your motor? Read on…
- Keep your driving smooth. Don’t accelerate or brake harshly or drive too fast – driving at 70mph uses 9% more fuel than driving at 60mph, and up to 15% more than travelling at 50mph.
- Get your car regularly serviced to keep the engine working as efficiently as possible.
- Keep your tyres topped up with air. A drop of 6psi can bump up fuel consumption by 20% and tyre wear by 30%.
- Reduce the drag on your car by taking off roofracks or boxes when not in use, and clear your luggage space of items adding unnecessary weight.
For more fuel-saving tips, check out my article How to cut your fuel consumption.