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A report by the The Dog and Lemon Guide has critised the government’s fuel consumption ratings attached to new cars. The report says that on the road, cars rarely come near government figures, and use up to two or three litres per 100km more than the new car rating.

Editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson, said during a test of a new Toyota FJ Cruiser, he achieved an average fuel consumption readout of 14L/100km, a few litres short of the government rating of 11.4L/100km. Mr Matthew-Wilson said,

“Around town – which is where most of these vehicles will spend their days – the fuel consumption will be over 18L/100km. That’s nearly 60 percent higher than the so-called average figure quoted by the government.”

Mr Matthew-Wilson says it’s not confined to large cars either. He says hybrids are often presented to be much more efficient than they are in the real world.

“According to the BBC, government fuel consumption figures for hybrids are often out by around 30 percent, and our own tests confirm that. The government website says that the Prius uses an average of 3.9L/100km. In the real world, independent tests have shown the Prius uses an average of 5.3L/100km.”

It’s an interesting topic being argued here. Many buyers looking for a new car use the government figures as a serious factor in the car selection process. Most buyers do not realise that these figures have been provided under laboratory conditions, and not under normal day-to-day driving conditions.

However, the figures have been put into place as a consistent rating or measurement that consumers can use to compare each car. The tests are always conducted under the same conditions and in the same manner, across all manufacturers. It’s the only way the government can provide extremely consistent ratings in regards to a fuel consumption figure.

What do you think? Is this report onto something, or should buyers perhaps be made more aware of the fine writing below the government results, that the results are not a representation of what to expect in the real world?

  • AB

    How else can you do it????
    There is no other ‘official’ way

    Ultimately I think smart consumers need to do their research, read reviews provided by all sorts of publications and attempt to get an extended road test.

    • tekkyy

      who changed the formula from the old 55/45 to the current 27/73 anyway?

      if you skip it and look at the urban figure its alright

      remember driving on the highway with moderate traffic and traffic lights is very much city driving

    • Phil

      Well some European cars publish the fuel consumption at a fixed 90km\h and 120km\h in top gear.

      This also provides a direct comparison between vehicles (albeit restricted to those that bear the figures) and, assuming the car has a instantaneous consumption readout, easy for the driver to achieve.

  • http://caradvice OSU811

    I agree to be fair every car needs to be tested under the exact same conditions, which cant be done in real life driving!!
    I have actually driven some cars and got better than the average on the sticker! eg(Jazz 1.5, Outback diesel, liberty 2.5i, CR-V etc) and others which have been a lot more than the average on the sticker eg(Impreza auto, Insight hybrid, CX-7 etc)

  • Alexander

    He must have thrashed that Prius, the highest I ever get is 4.5l/100km, yet I can average 3.7 over a tank easily. Clive Matthew-Wilson writes some highly inaccurate crap, his Tesla Roadster article was ridiculous.

    • Alan

      Yes, the BBC thrahed the Prius. don’t forget BBC = Top Gear.

      • Phil

        Top gear got 18MPG driving the Prius on a track. That converts to 15.7L\100km.

        • Robert

          Vs an m3?

  • morons

    The figures are used as a comparison from car to car, does it really matter what the sticker says, think of the number as a rating instead of actual consumption figures.
    If every car is tested the same then it will still tell you what car uses more whether it be acurate to .1 of a litre or not, if a Prius says 3.6 and a Swift says 5.5 the Swift uses more fuel, if the sticker said Prius uses 7.2 and a Swift 11.0 the result is still the same the Swift uses more.

    • F1MotoGP

      I agree. Just look at the sticker compare same size of cars and pick the lowest number. On my Jazz 2008 I had 7.2L/100km and now on Corolla 8.07L/100km. Test and real life fuel economy sometimes is not even close. Where you live flat or hills, temperature Qld or Tasmania, close to city or country town…etc

  • Paul

    All these fuel consumption figures are a smoke screen anyways. Auto makers never publish energy efficiency figures for cars because they are simply embarrassing.

    Your average RWD car is only 15% energy efficient at the wheels.

    As a direct result that means 85% of the fuel consumed by the average car is very efficiently converted into waste heat!

  • Dave S

    Maybe they should use the old Hwy/ city cycle labels. Also the could list an average speed for that fuel consumption.

    I know i wont get anywhere near my sticker since most of my travelling is done in busy traffic (trip computer average speed around 35kph).

  • Doctor

    Tell me something new – the only use is the relative figures between various models. The combined figure is pretty useless as its biased to highway use – not your use.

  • Shak

    I think most consumers have to take a bit more responsibility in the buying process. Besides, if Fuel consumption is such a big deal for them, then they most likely know what to expect, and are going to compare cars properly.

    Then again, i guess majority of the market is just looking for an A to B appliance, and, the Current ADR tests, while not entirely relevant to the real world, are the only way to ensure consistent test results, and an unbiased bed for comparison for consumers. I really dont see that much wrong with them.

  • TonyB

    What a load of nonsense. When has anyone claimed that the offical fuel economy numbers are an accurate measure of real-life fuel efficiencies? As a number of people here have pointed out the official numbers are – and always been – simply an indication of relative efficiencies. Must have been a slow news day for the magazine involved.

  • Sumpguard

    My ix35 highlander (which I sold last week) was pretty close to what they claimed on the highway ( claim 6.5 ltr /used 6.6-6.7 ltrs) but typically around 10.5 ltrs per 100 k’s in the city. This is laregly due to two factors. One being I only did a five minute run each day to work and back and the car barely got warmed up and the other being my reasonably heavy right foot.

    When I did get the opportunity to go for a run to the other side of Cairns and back it would use around 8.7 ltrs per 100′ks v’s the manufacturer’sclaim of 8.5 so pretty close again and not wildly innacurate as this articel claims.

    Now I have a sportage platinum diesel and driving it back home last Friday on a brand new engine it returned 6.7 ltrs per 100 k’s and this included some steep hill range driving between Townsville and Cairns so again pretty much bang on the money. I dialed in 100 km/h on the cruise for the purpose of the excercise.

    If you drive economically you should get close to your claimed figures but I enjoy the power delivery of the R series diesel so I expect my figures to be up. That’s not the manufacturer’s fault. It’s a brain/foot issue!! ;)

    • DANNY

      hi Sumpguard, do you mind if i ask why you got rid of your ix35 already?

  • Richard

    The current laws which allow manufacturers to only quote the combined (60% country/highway 40% urban)figure doesn’t help the average person who does 90% of there driving in urban conditions. The simple solution is to scrap the combined figure and only quote highway and urban figures as is the case in most EC countries. Buyers would then have alot better idea of what fuel consumption to expect for their driving enviroment.

    • Shak

      Well, those details are already all on the Sticker in the window, so if they need to see the breakdown of the figures they can.

  • Bruce Parkinson

    Do people really believe what the gov. tell them is the
    truth.The gov. gives motor co.$M to produce small eco
    $hi# boxes so what do you think they are going to want to sell.!! It ain’t hard people all ya got to do is think
    I’ve got a Territory that is averageing 11.5 can’t do much
    better if at all in your current eco box with no comfort,
    room etc.

    • DANNY

      ha ha thats a pretty funny fuel ecconomy figure on a territory most people i know who own one regret ever buying the thing cause they are only averaging 18 to 19 ltrs around town and still 14+ on the highway.

  • MF

    What a uselss report from The Dog and Lemon Guide. As if no one knows about it already?

    I cant stand those people’s stupidity sometimes…

    • Alexander

      Exactly, the same guy did an article about how a Tesla Roadster isn’t that environmentally firendly if charged with Coal sourced energy, did he honestly think nobody knew that already?

  • vrx26

    Nothing to get excited about. There are just too many variables to consider to get an accurate average fuel consumption on a particular car. Driving an FJ cruiser in the city and saying that it’s fuel consumption is too far off from the specs is not worth getting excited an claimed thinking “Eureka’. Unless you test each and every car brand and model for different type of use and passenger or load configuration and averaging it for the life of the car then you will probably get a much accurate figure. This guy needs to revisit his research methodology. The fuel consumption rating is just a guide not worth writing an article about.

  • Don Quay

    When they are testing the car in the lab, do they perform the test on the minimum standard fuel recommended for that vehicle? You often hear reports of improved economy if you use, say ULP95 or 98, rather than ULP91. Can a manufacturer fudge the test by using ULP98 instead of perhaps the recommended fuel E10, for example? One thing for certain is that my fuel consumption has increased since they stopped selling, in NSW anyway, ULP91 and how I have to use E10. Great for the environment, make us all use more fuel.

    • Shak

      Your fuel consumption may be increasing but the rationale behind the switch to E10 is that it reduces the nations use of Oil based petroleum, which is not only great for our Skyline, but also the environment.(and it also keeps Bob Brown shut up for a little while longer)

      On the topic of whether the use of higher octane fuel would improve the results, it most likely would, but the manufacturers are not the ones conducting the tests, the Government is. So they cant really fudge the results now can they.

      • Don Quay

        Your comments on E10, reflect the line from those that promote it. I seriously doubt that there are any energy savings to be made from using E10. Every report suggested that your consumption would increae 5-8%, probably more like 10% from my experience. As to the savings of oil, if I previously purchased 100L of ULP and with the change to E10 and use 10% more, I still have used 100L of petrol and also 10L of ethanol. Where is the saving of petrol then? You must also take into account the energy used in the production, transport and blending etc of ethanol and the nett energy to produce is actually more than plain old petrol. E10 used to be 3c/L cheaper than ULP91, but that seemed to be reduced to 2c when both were available, so the economics are even worse now. With the rise in fuel prices and the fact that ULP91 is no longer available, there is nothing to compare the E10 price with.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Another thing people need to remember with ethanol is that even though it reduces our reliance on fossil fuel and is better WRT tail pipe emissions after the pump, is that it is not the “environmental saviour” many people think it is. It is just an alternative to fossil fuels, nother more, nothing less.

      Why? How do you think the crops are planted and harvested? What equipment is generally used to do this and what is usually the fuel of choice for this equipment? Does the equipment planting and harvesting these crops have particulate filters etc etc? How does the crop get to the refinery? What usually supplies power to the refinery with the very large amounts of electricity/energy required to distill the ethanol? Where does the large amounts of water required to distill the ethanol come from? This list is not exhaustive but it gives you an idea that it is not quite the “environmental saviour” that some people are making it out to be. All it is doing is buying us a little more time to find a proper alternative to fossil fuels.

      • Don Quay

        DA, you have confirmed in more detail and expressed somewhat better what I stated above. Ethanol is not the saviour and does not save petrol or overall fuel use.

        Now, expect to be marked down for this heresy, just like me.

  • Mr Gaspo

    I take the urban figure and add 10%, thus I find is close to what I get in urban conditions. Anyone who takes the average and hopes this is what they will get in the city will be very dissapointed.

  • nickdl

    I don’t really listen to the drivel that this man says, he is way out on a lot of things. There is no other way to test a car, and from my own experiences the official reading can easily be obtained if the car is driven properly. As I see it, the ADR is just a guide and is good to compare a car as its rivals. All figures from it should be taken with a grain of salt, but the same amount of salt for each car. It’s a very handy way of comparing fuel efficiency in cars.

  • valet dabess

    My car is rated 7.5 and I’m getting 7.3. 60% of that being highway driving. So idk what they’re talking about.


    actually the figure’s are extremely accurate…that is of course for a car running of a dyno.aerodynamics,added weight,engine condition,hell even tyre pressures… add the variables.look at the labels this way-the big figure is your real figure,the middle figure is your highway (trip) figure,the bottom figure is your drunken figure,that is the one you quote to your mates to impress them after more than a few beers…

  • Phil

    I’m curious to know whether the hybrids they test are fully charged or not before testing?

    A Hybrid that starts off with a flat battery will immediately be burning up extra fuel to charge the battery and the petrol motor will not get much, if any, assistance from the electric motor.
    If the barrery is fully charged at the beginning, the petrol motor will be doing minimal charging and will get plenty of assistance from the electric motor thus saving energy.

    Given that the economy test is only about 20km and the results multipled to meet 100km, this would make big differences in the overall result for hybrids.

    Back on the big picture is air conditioning on during the ADR test? Running the air conditioning adds around 10% to fuel usage.

    • Alexander

      I’d say (in a Prius’ case) it would be with a 60-80% State of Charge, as the Prius will (as you said) liberally use energy when above 80%, yet when under 60%, it will run on it’s combustion engine more to charge the battery back. The Prius by default works to maintain a 60-80% SOC as any higher can wear out the battery and any lower will also wear out the battery/use more fuel. A prius wont allow itself to ‘fully charge’, it can only hold a 90% SOC to preserve the battery. Overall, i’d say it would be kept between 60-80% for the test.

  • Technofreak

    I don’t see the fuss here.

  • Matt Man

    When buying my new Polo, they said it would do 5.5 on the highway and 6.5 in the city. Well after 2 trips up the coast I can tell you its WRONG! Both times, the average turned out to be 4.5 highway! How dare they! I sat on 110km/ph most of the way too!
    Cant trust Rudd, or whoever is in now… Abbott will fix it!

    • Dave S

      Well with the money you save on petrol, you will be able to pay for all those extras that should have come standard for a car that price.

      • MattW

        And the taxis while it is in getting fixed

  • Dan

    I get the average fuel economy. 20 mins up a mountain 10 mins at 70km/h and another 10 mins at 60 with traffic lights. It’s how you drive. If I don’t rev above 2000 too much I get the average, rev to 3000 and the fuel economy drops.

    • Roger Ramjet

      Thats depends on what car too! Not many little cars can keep up with traffic or get up a hill if you keep them under 2000rpm. You need the low rpm torque of cubic inches, turbo diesel or turbo petrol.

  • Dan

    Increases I mean sorry**

  • Henry

    I managed to achieve 7.8l/100km on my nc mx5 compare to official 8.4l/100km on city + hwy travel. My Honda accord 2008 no chance to get below 9.5l/100km with official 8.8l/100km.

    Mazda is not bad !

  • Bob

    I’m getting 10.6 at the moment in my FG G6E with around 50% highway and the other half of heavy city traffic. Very impressed with my economy given the comfort and performance. Used to average 9.5 out of a 2003 Focus 2.0 manual in identical driving. In both cars I enjoy/ed the loud pedal too. I can certainly attest to just how good some cars can be but it depends on average speeds too. I averag 46km/h currently in my G6E

  • Frenchie

    I have said all along that the urban value should be the larger red value on the top left panel.

    I have a SV6 Commodore sports wagon auto. It has a combined fuel rating of 10.3 which I only have achieve on the highway. Urban it achieves 14.2 of which I am achieving 13.3 on average. The extra urban is a joke 8.1.

    • Kieran

      You beat me to it!

  • Kieran

    Forgive me if this sounds just a little too simplistic, but could the stickers not simply be adjusted so that the urban cycle result is at the top? Voilà!

    And then, perhaps, they could also require manufacturers to quote the urban cycle figure in their advertising too…

    Just a thought.

  • Mick

    People should only be looking at the fuel economy figures as a guide anyway. If you tally up all the costs of the car, both monetary and environmental (including manufacturing and sourcing of materials) the most fuel efficient cars like the Prius are hardly the cheapest or most environmentally friendly to run.

    If you get the car serviced every 10,000km, at a cost of $350 (average taking into account major service like timing belts etc), thats $3.50 extra per 100km. If your tyres last 40,000, and are $120 each (total $480 for a reasonable safe tyre, and this is for a very standard size…), thats an extra $1.20/100km (many cars require more expensive tyres).

    You are up to an extra $4.70. Thats the equivalent of about 3.5 litres of fuel. Now, if you need spare parts, averaged over the mileage covered…

    The environmental cost of hybrid cars is mostly hidden, you have to consider what affect they have on the environment in terms of the lithium used in the next gen cars etc.

    Despite all these costs, at the end of the day you have to look at what you will be using the car for. Its pointless a family buying a prius and driving around in discomfort when you are all in it. Likewise, if you are a slim short single guy/girl that never ventures out of the city than a 4wd probably isn’t the best choice either.

    One thing that is certain though is that cars like the Prius etc are not meant for highway driving or long distance driving.

  • Jacob

    Is there any car/Trip Computer that tells exactly how many mL of petrol I have used?

    I would love to know, because then I can know whether to take the Freeway or the Highway.

  • macca

    diesel will get much closer to the ADR than petrol will. people leave on the climate control all the time, and rev-out with petrol cars now and again in traffic.

  • http://Frosty Hicks

    Of course you cant replicate real-world driving, but that doesn’t justify calculating the estimate by using laboratory perfect testing.

    Go out on a straight bit of M4 and test it. Preferably not in rush hour :P

  • Darwin tech head

    One agreed consistent comparison methodology is indispensable for comparing apples with apples. However buyers should be made aware that this is only half the story.

  • MattW

    For a more “real world” test that has the same conditions every time, they need to buy a town with a few hills, build a big warehouse over it so they can air condition it, then have a robot drive the same route every time with no other traffic to interrupt lmao

  • Car Fanatic

    Dan’s right, it’s all about how you drive, I live in a hilly area and my Manual TDi golf gets 6.0l/100. It average rating is 5.7 by ADR claims.

    I coast down hills in gear and keep the revs low when I can. It’s achievable but it takes you time to learn how to drive efficiency.

  • Al Juraj

    The real problem is that the ADR consumption can simply be any achievable figure. Some manufacturers stretch the truth more than others. The Falcon XT has a 9.9 l/100km ADR as opposed to the Commodore Omega’s 9.3l/100km claim, but a real world test saw the Ford use less fuel.

    Manufacturers should be forced to post more realistic fuel efficiency numbers as buyers, especially those who aren’t too knowledgeable with cars, are heavily misled.

    • Shak

      Manufacturers dont stretch the truth. If the figure is on the sticker, then it can be achieved, albeit not by everyone, and not all the time. Thats why it is an average figure as tested and verified by a Government Body, and not the manufacturers themselves. Like i said before, if a consumer is silly enough to not find out all the details about, what is arguably the second largest purchase in most peoples lives after their houses; then they deserve their fate.

  • Robert

    It doesn’t really matter, as long as you compare these [Misleading] fuel figures with other vehicles. you can’t expect how much fuel you use but you can certainly choose out of all the cars to buy, the most efficient one. at worst you have to add a couple of litres

  • http://caradvise Neville Baker

    Blue Ned Sorry I missed placing in e-mail address

  • http://caradvise Neville Baker

    The advice I sent in was. Haven’t any of you expert read the begining of this story. It said I beleive. The goverment give these L/Km. Who believes the goverment.
    May I be bold enough,to suggest that four four drivers take four different cars out in the city for a day driving a set route changing over to each car. Then for the next four days drive in the country, Up hills over unsealed roads and highways, changing cars each day,over the same sort of conditions each day.
    Take an overall average of City Driving & Country Driving

  • http://caradvise Neville Baker

    Have considered a Route that would give most cars a good work out. Start The city drive in Sydney Set up a fair route Start in Peak Hour into off peak hour, finish in Liverpool,End of Day 1. Day 2 Drive to wollongong Via old Highway onto Kiama following the coast to Nowra. Days 3,4&5 will give the cars a up/down hill work out with tight corners From Nowra down through Kangaroo Valley to Moss Vale then onto Goulbourne onto Canberra across the Mountain to Batemans Bay then Back to Nowra. Though this does not take in gravel road, the Hills and some country roads which may need some patch work down on them the highways will give you some 100 kpm thoughI have not driven from Goulbounre for ages you must go via Lake George old road to get in some more light curves to Canberra. Would love to hear how the drive goes and fuel useage is/was.