For every model produced, manufacturers are obliged to provide technical information that includes CO2 emissions and fuel economy figures. It is widely accepted that these are given in good faith, and are based on rigorous testing. However, the controversy created when Volkswagen was found to have installed software that ‘cheated’ its emission figures gave many in the industry, and the driving public at large, pause for thought.
The upside of this far-reaching scandal is that car manufacturers are highly unlikely to want to follow in Volkswagen’s footsteps. Volkswagen itself had admitted that it “totally screwed up” and had “broken the trust” of its customers and the wider public.
So how can you trust figures reported on official car-manufacturer websites, and what do urban, combined and extra-urban mpg figures really mean in terms of real-world driving?
While the information provided by car manufacturers is certainly a useful indicator of the performance levels of a particular vehicle, getting a second or third opinion is always a good idea. Trusted critics such as Honest John, Top Gear, Auto Express and What Car? all offer objective reviews based on their own experiences of testing the cars. Of course, the opinions of ordinary car users themselves are a valuable resource, too.
As far as fuel economy is concerned, vehicles that have come closest to official figures include the Honda Accord, Ford Mondeo, SEAT Toledo, Škoda Superb and Volvo V70 and XC70. Each car has been found to feature real-world figures that are at least 91 percent of what official statistics claim them to be, with the Accord even exceeding Honda’s stated figures.
It is always important to be aware of the range of engines available for any one vehicle. A ‘top line’ quote grabs the attention, but you need to be sure that this is the engine you will be getting with your car. Also to be taken into consideration are the relative merits and demerits of choosing petrol or diesel engines.
When using a manufacturer’s website, always check for caveats. The use of an asterisk often denotes that, while a stated claim might be true, it doesn’t necessarily reflect all available options. It is always worthwhile to corroborate this information through reliable automotive review sites.
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