Ford Fiesta goes over a “ton” in epic MPG Marathon
Competing in the 2012 ALD Automotive / Shell FuelSave MPG Marathon, the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi clocked up an amazing 108.78mpg over a 370-mile route involving tough, real-world driving in challenging weather conditions.
The Fiesta was coaxed round the course by former rally stars Andy Dawson and Andrew Marriott, both of whom would normally be more at home blasting at high speed through the forests of Wales, than competing in the UK’s premier economy driving event.
Dawson and Marriott’s performance was remarkable for a number of reasons, though they were not the first team to break the magic 100mpg barrier on the day. A few minutes earlier, three-times former winner Mick Linford brought home his Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi eco in what appeared to be an unassailable 102.21mpg – the first time in the history of the event that a vehicle had achieved over 100mpg. But try though they may, the AA fuel marshals couldn’t squeeze more than 3.4 gallons of Shell FuelSave diesel into Dawson’s Fiesta, sealing a remarkable win for the Ford-backed team.
The MPG Marathon – organised by Fleet World magazine – is designed to be a “real world” test that demonstrates the benefits to the motorist’s back pocket of employing simple, smarter driving techniques. This year’s route through the hills of South Wales and the Cotswolds was made more challenging still by a bridge collapse near Tewkesbury and a traffic light failure near Stow on the Wold.
Both incidents required competitors to find diversionary routes, though the integrity of the event was maintained by the use of satellite tracking technology, as event organiser Ross Durkin explained: ‘We aim to make the MPG Marathon as representative of everyday driving as possible.
‘The route is meticulously planned and all cars taking part in the event are fitted with TRACKER satellite tracking technology to ensure that all drivers follow the prescribed course. In the case of the two major diversions, the TRACKER system told us exactly where every vehicle was at any time during the event.’
Second place in the competition to achieve the best performance in miles per gallon went to Mick Linford and Steve Croughan in a Kio Rio 1.1 CRDi eco with 102.21mpg, while third place with 93.4mpg went to a Peugeot 208 e-HDi driven by motoring journalist Chris Russon and Peugeot PR Manager Kevin Jones.
Alongside the competition for the best outright MPG, the MPG Marathon also challenges drivers to improve on the official fuel consumption figures issued for their vehicle. And this year’s winners proved – along with virtually every other vehicle taking part in the event – that the manufacturers’ “combined cycle” figures need not be a barrier.
Winners of the “Percentage Improvement” award were Ian Murray and Mark Armstrong-Read who got 84.7mpg from their Citroen C1 1.0 VTR, an improvement of 28.92% over the published figure of 65.7mpg. Both drivers work for Derbyshire NHS Trust and were put forward for the event by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) after their participation in EST’s Smarter Driving programme.
Second place in the percentage improvement trial went to the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic with an uplift of 27.07%, while third place went to the Peugeot 208 of Russon and Jones. Only two of the 20 cars competing in the event failed to beat the manufacturer’s official Combined MPG figure.
Commercial vehicle manufacturers have a lot to gain from the MPG Marathon and none more so than Vauxhall whose Vivaro ecoFLEX 2.0 CDTi covered the 370-mile course on less than six gallons of Shell FuelSave diesel. The van – driven by Vans A2Z publisher Neil McIntee and motorsport pro Andrew Duerden – beat the combined figure of 40.9mpg by 59.31% to underline the potential costs saving to businesses that can be achieved.
Second in the LCV section with a 39.84% improvement was the Renault Trafic of VAN Fleet World contributor Dan Gilkes and former Devon & Cornwall Policeman Malcolm Curnow. The Ford Transit Custom of Owen Wood and Richard Powell gained third with a 37.01% increase.
Best MPG overall in the LCV section was secured for the third time in four years by the Citroen Nemo HDi of John Kendall and Paul Nieuwenhuis with a budget-beating 77.51mpg.
With safety high on the motoring agenda there were also two TRACKER Safety Awards – one for cars and one for vans – to be presented to the drivers whose vehicles incurred the fewest incidents of harsh acceleration, cornering and braking.
Driving style was measured by TRACKER’s in-vehicle telematics unit and the car winners were Diesel Car editor Ian Robertson driving with Craig Morrow in a Peugeot 208 e-HDi. In a Fiat Doblo 1.3 Multijet van were BT Fleet Manager Dave Edwards and his colleague Rob Williams, whose smooth driving style won them the van safety award.
Event organiser Ross Durkin commented: ‘This year’s MPG Marathon will be remembered for the two teams who beat the elusive 100mpg barrier – both superb performances.
‘But the real value of the MPG Marathon is that it highlights the fuel – and hence emissions – savings that can be achieved by any driver of any vehicle. The average improvement over combined cycle figures achieved by the 27 vehicles in this year’s event was a whisker under 16% – impressive by anyone’s standards.
‘The drivers had strict time limits to make sure they kept up with traffic and had a number of hold-ups to deal with along the way. The motor manufacturers and technology suppliers have done a tremendous job in improving the fuel efficiency of all news cars and vans, but motorists should see their published fuel consumption figures as a target to beat, not the maximum achievable.’