Thursday, 17 October 2013

My name is David and I'm a fuel economy addict

MY EYES light up as I get ever bigger readouts emerging from the dashboard. Over the past few weeks, the cut ‘n’ thrust of the morning commute has made a numbers junkie out of me.

Only it isn’t the need for speed or a readiness for revs and redlines that’s got me hooked. It’s the cheap-looking digital display – seemingly stolen from a Casio calculator – that tells me what I’m getting for my gallon.

Regular readers will know that earlier this summer I chucked a grand in the direction of a 51-plate Ford Mondeo. It’s a Ghia X which means it comes with electric everything, a feisty foursome of leather seats and the joys of cruise control, but by far and away its most impressive feature is the two litre beast which lives beneath the bonnet. While I’ll never get bored of its silky smoothness or the 148 Dagenham-bred horses which haul it along, it’s the fuel economy which proves so frustratingly addictive.

Every drive is a mission to eke another tenth of a mile to the gallon out of it. Thanks to a crummy digital readout between the speedo and the rev counter, I have inadvertently become the polar opposite of a boy racer, completely obsessed with fuel economy.

This, by the way, isn’t my attempt to get all politically trendy and jump on the cost-of-living debate. Fuel’s expensive whatever you’re driving, and the Mondeo is always doing somewhere in the region of 34 miles to the gallon. That’s exactly what my much lighter Mazda MX-5 used to get from its 1.6 litre engine, so for a thumping great two litre to get that from a far heavier saloon is, in my book, extraordinary.

But it’s never enough because that display compels you to try and beat your own record every time you go for a drive. Why do 34 to the gallon when you can do 34.1?

It’s ridiculous; it’s the fastest and most powerful car I’ve ever owned and yet every morning I drive it to work like an elderly parish priest, gently caressing the gas pedal and politely declining overtaking opportunities because of the cranial rush you get from being awarded an extra tenth of the mile to the gallon. On one afternoon, I actually got my photographer friend in the passenger seat to take a shot of that glorious moment when I got 35 whole miles to the gallon. For reasons I'm still not entirely sure of, it mattered.

The first step to dealing with an addiction is talking about it. I’m a fuel economy addict, but I guess it’s better than being hooked on speed.

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