Monday, 7 May 2012

The easy way to work out what you're getting for your gallon

THE pensioners in their mollycuddled Nissan Micras powered past me as I puffed uselessly up the incline. My 40-year-old car, despite looking a bit sporty, doesn't really do hills.

It didn't really help that I was a bit nervous this time last Sunday. You'll probably already know that I've got an old MG and I've been on all sorts of adventures with it, but in the two year it's spent under my wing it's not once ventured beyond the fields of West Lancashire. Mainly because I wasn't entirely convinced it'd go much further.

But there's a first time for everything and as I gingerly ventured onto the M6 and pointed that never-ending bonnet northwards I was keen to find out not just whether my MG BGT could make it to places outside Lancashire without conking out on the hard shoulder. I also wanted to answer - and stay with me on this one - the all important question of fuel economy.

If you've ever wanted to work out what your car actually does to the gallon - and it's worth doing, because most of the manufacturers' figures are a tad optimistic - there's an easy way of doing it. Simply brim your tank until the fuel pump clicks, drive it around for 100 miles or so, and brim it again. Even though you've got to faff about converting the amount from litres into UK gallons you can fairly easy, and accurately, work out whether your car's as frugal as it should be.

I've done it with each and every one of my motors - in fact, I did with the MX-5 the other week, which despite being driven with a particularly weighty right foot around the windy roads of Wales still returned 34mpg. The best I've managed so far was with my old Renault 5, which despite having been to the moon and back mileage-wise still knocked up a respectable 43 to the gallon. Your car, if you're sensible and drive a diesel hatch like everyone else, should do at least 50 on a good run.

So what about the MG, which uses two enormous carburettors to shovel high-octane petrol into an engine designed in the Fifties and made largely from pig iron? Well, on a 150 mile run on motorways, country lanes and the A6 through rural Lancashire it managed 25.3mpg. Pretty poor compared to a new car, I'll admit, but not bad for an older model I'm still smitten with.

What's more, my car did an entire journey to somewhere far away, and back again, and didn't break down! A summer of adventures await...

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