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Why the EC figures do not represent true MPG

The prescribed EC test is a lab test carried out to simulate a mix of different types of driving and arrive at ‘combined’ CO2 emission and fuel consumption figures.

Because vehicle taxation in Europe is now based on CO2 emissions, manufacturers naturally optimise their engines to achieve the lowest possible CO2 in the tests - this skews the true MPG.

This gives a correspondingly low fuel consumption figure. Unfortunately the relevant EC Directives prescribe that this figure and only this figure can be publicised by manufacturers, even though it is unlikely to be achieved by the average driver in real life conditions.

Imperial urban fuel consumption (mpg) (cold)

The urban test cycle is carried out in a laboratory at an ambient temperature of twenty degrees celsius to thirty degrees celsius on a rolling road from a cold start, ie the engine has not run for several hours. The cycle consists of a series of accelerations, steady speeds, decelerations and idling. Maximum speed is 31 mph (50 km/h), average speed 12 mph (19 km/h) and the distance covered is 2.5 miles (4 km).

Imperial extra-urban fuel consumption (mpg)

The extra-urban cycle is conducted immediately following the urban cycle and consists roughly half steady speed driving and the remainder accelerations, decelerations and some idling. Maximum speed is 75 mph (120 km/h), average speed is 39 mph (63 km/h) and the distance covered is 4.3 miles (7 km).

Imperial combined fuel consumption (mpg)

The combined figure presented is for the urban and the extra-urban cycle together. It is therefore an average of the two other parts of the fuel consumption test, urban and extra-urban cycles, weighted by the distance covered in each part.

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