Do we still need to mind the MPG gap?

The gap between official miles per gallon and real world mpg has grown to 22%. This is up 5% since we first started testing fuel economy almost three years ago.

The average official combined miles per gallon of the 459 passenger cars we have tested is 57 and this is increasing by approximately 1.7 mpg per year. Real world miles per gallon (TMPG) on the other hand, which averages 44 mpg, remains flat thus causing an increase in the gap of about two percentage points each year as can be seen in the graph below.

NewJune 14 linear v2 Picture

MPG vs. Engine size

The graph below shows that broadly speaking the gap grows as the engine size reduces. If you buy a five litre car you will not get great mpg but at least it will be consistent with the salesman’s patter and most likely your expectations. However, if you are shopping for a frugal run-around you are better off looking at the one to three litre engines which give the best absolute performance as well as a lower divergence from official figures than the super minis.

June 14 v2

Fuel economy by engine type

Our data also shows that petrol engines, as expected, have worse fuel economy than diesels but interestingly the gap to official is also larger. And, manuals return a better fuel economy than automatics but automatics have a smaller gap between official and real-world figures.

June 14 chart 1b

June 14 chart 2b

More MPG

We’ll be looking at MPG in more detail in next month’s newsletter, including an analysis of the manufacturer leader board. The published results will be anonymised but OEMs are welcome to email me if they would like to find out how they sit within the table.

* The original Transport & Environment report Mind The Gap can be found here