Day two of our Hyundai ix35 economy drive started from Murray Bridge about 75 km out of Adelaide. Cars were prepared, drivers briefed and we began our journey towards Eagle on the Hill to meet up with former Australian rally champion Ed Ordynski.
The idea was simple, absorb all of Ed’s knowledge on economy driving and begin our trip back to Melbourne. Tips included working out the lowest maintainable RPM in the highest gear for the most fuel efficient drive.
Although Ed may best be known for flinging Mitsubishi EVOs around corners at incredible speeds with absolute perfection, in recent times he has shared his wisdom and driving talent with the automotive world in promoting fuel efficient driving. He was recently the class winner in this year’s Global Green Challenge, driving a Hyundai Santa Fe R-diesel with our own editor John Cadogen.
Discussions took a good hour, but eventually it was time to head back to Melbourne.
Both ix35 fuel gauges were showing above half full, which was a reassuring sign. Although we all sensed that as with most cars the last half of the fuel gauge tends to drop quicker than the first half.
Our journey into Melbourne was always going to be significantly tougher than the first half, given we were actually running the cars still empty. Anthony had taken everything Ed had said on board, determined to get back to Melbourne.
The battle continued throughout the day, read outs of average fuel economy would come over every once in a while. Ed’s tips had paid off as Anthony managed to get his down from 5.6L/100km to 5.2L/100km, the other team’s car remained the same.
Anxiety levels began to rise when, as predicted, the fuel gauges began to drop rapidly. 300 km out of Melbourne and the Top Gear driven ix35 was haunting all of us with its blinking empty light. We worked out that you can get at least 150 km out of a tank when it says empty (please, don’t try this at home).
The CarAdvice ix35 was a good 45 minutes behind and Anthony was already claiming himself to be the ‘Hans-Killer’ referring of course to eco-adventurer Hans Tholstrup, who managed to perform the exact same run and actually make it back.
Despite his optimism the news eventually came in, “guys, the empty light just started flashing” Anthony said. We were still a good 250 km out of Melbourne. We needed a miracle.
The level of concentration was so high that Anthony was left foot accelerating at one stage, to give his right foot a rest. Consistency on the right pedal, is the key. Keep it consistent, read the road ahead, maximise inertia and gravity as much as possible and avoid excessive acceleration when not necessary.
By now it was about 7pm. The TopGear car had about 150 km to go and we were all secretly taking bets on when it would stop. Anthony was determined that he was going to be driving his car into the Hilton, hand it over to the hotel valet and claim sweet victory.
To keep our mind away from the enormous anxiety of ‘when will it stop’ we began looking for dinner destinations. Our original plan was to go to Lygon street, but the unfortunate underbelly-style events of the day changed our mind.
At this stage, through a random course of events, Frank Stallone (Sylvester Stallone’s brother) was going to join us the next day at the Hyundai sponsored Carlton ALF game at the MCG), so there was plenty to talk about. Hyundai had kindly donated an iMax and a driver to drive Frank and his band around while he is touring Melbourne.
The conversations went on and on, every time the TopGear car pulled slightly to the left to let a car go past we all held our breath thinking it had died. So much so that we started to get immune to it, until the voice on the radio confirmed otherwise “I’m done, it’s finished”. Car one was out.
The achievement was still breathtaking, 1,287 km on a single tank of fuel in a compact SUV. Not exactly an easy task. The first ix35 was filled up with exactly 10L of diesel and the team continued its journey back to Melbourne.
All the pressure was now on Anthony. We all suspected that the extreme level of concentration and determination had made him slightly delusional, he had ditched numerous unused 1L bottles of drinking water to save weight, he was even wondering why he was still wearing his ‘heavy’ wrist watch.
He was slowly but surely approaching the point where the TopGear car stopped. But that wasn’t the aim, the aim was to beat Hans and get back to Melbourne.
Our facebook and twitter updates began to get more regular (and thanks to all of you that wrote and tweeted back) as the anxiety levels increased dramatically. At one stage we suspected that Anthony would easily make it back into Melbourne, but he had been sitting on empty for so long that it was hard to tell.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Exactly 1,344.7 km since the start, the CarAdvice ix35 ran out of fuel. Exactly 93.7 km from the MCG.
Anthony was disappointed but also marginally relieved that he had gotten so far. 10L in the tank and we headed back to Melbourne.
Given the car’s were filled up to the absolute maximum capacity, we managed to get an extra 10L of fuel into each tank. So the final figures were:
CarAdvice Hyundai ix35
TopGear Hyundai ix35
Interestingly, based on those figures Anthony came very close to beating Hans Tholstrup, who managed an average fuel economy figure of 4.85L/100km for the same run but must have had his tank filled up to near 70L.
A start-to-end article of the event from Anthony’s perspective will be up in the next few days.
For all of you still wondering, here is a photo of Anthony and I with Frank Stallone. You can catch him performing live at the Forum in Melbourne on Wednesday (although we’re told all tickets sold out within the first 10 minutes).