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What does being 'fuel efficient' really mean? In the search for answers, we put ourselves, and the Mitsubishi Attrage, on a long drive up North to the test.

22 Sep 2016

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Cover story
Mitsubishi Attrage Fuel Efficiency Challenge
hat does being 'fuel efficient' really mean? Afterall, the fuel economy figures listed by manufacturers are just that - numbers on a piece of paper. These figures are based on specific tests in specific conditions, and
tell us the car's aggregated capabilities. In real world conditions, we rarely have anything close to the similar sort of conditions to recreate those figures.

What those figures fail to tell us, though, is about the actual act of driving, and what it means to be an efficient driver. As the MyCarForum member drive proved, give five drivers the exact same car, and you will get five different fuel economy numbers.

So, we set out to try to find some semblance of an answer to the question: What does fuel efficiency, and being fuel efficient, really mean?

The tools of the trade

Of course, having the right tool matters. And in our case, we have the Mitsubishi Attrage - with its light weight (900kg), CVT transmission and frugal 1.2-litre engine, as well as being designed with efficient aerodynamics in mind, the Attrage boasts a 20.8km/L fuel economy figure.

Launched in 2015, the Attrage has proven to be popular with drivers. A sedan boasting a large 450-litre boot capacity and a spacious interior, the Attrage serves as a highly practical family car,
and is especially popular with drivers who are keenly conscious about their petrol consumption.

So, we have a car that certainly has petrol-sipping credentials, but it takes more than just a fuel efficient car to deliver real fuel efficiency.

Eco Mode

Arguably, fuel efficiency is more about the way that you drive rather than what you drive. With that in mind, we put ourselves through an exercise in driving economically, to understand what it really means to be an efficient driver.

In the Attrage, there is a green 'Eco' light on the dashboard that lights up when the car detects that you are driving economically and keeping the revs low. It is a simple yet straightforward means of tracking your 'Eco' habits, as the objective is to try to have the light on at all times.

More difficult, then, is flipping the 'Eco' switch in our heads. Most people probably know, theoretically, how to be better, more efficient drivers. Be conscious of throttle inputs, maintain constant speeds and reduce erratic acceleration/braking, and etc.

The difficulty is actually doing it. With our time in the Attrage, we force ourselves to relearn and practice good habits, as well as to get rid of our (numerous) bad habits.
A long drive up North means ample time to practise good 'Eco' driving habits
The key to keeping the 'Eco' light on - maintain consistent speeds and minimise aggressive acceleration
With its light weight, frugal engine and CVT transmission, the Attrage is certainly the fuel-lite car of choice
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