Regular readers of DTW’s reviews will note we like to report on fuel consumption.
For as many years as I have been driving I have strived to maintain a fuel consumption log. The longest continuous period ran from 2006 to about 2010. At some point I was unable to note the details in a handy notebook and scribbled them on a piece of A4. The plan was that I’d transfer the figures to the notebook as soon as it turned up from wherever it had got to. During a long drive my daughter got a hold of this page and was allowed to tear it up on the grounds that this would provide a few moments peace while she was distracted. At that point I lost interest in the project as the continuity was now ruptured.
What I still do is methodically record fuel consumption from re-fill to re-fill. I presume you have all done this. You tank the car, note the miles and quickly find out…ah, 34 mpg. Interesting. And that’s it. It almost seems to be the point of the drive. It is terribly satisfying to be able to put a number on the journey.
Yet the data never accumulates. What have I learned from my five years of continuous fuel consumption figures? I do know that I did once get 34 mpg and that was the record for the car. It never again achieved that and when I hammered the car I saw the figures drop to 28 mpg over long trips. The all-time worst was achieved in a month of pure town driving: 22 mpg from the 4-cylinder two-litre petrol unit. On the one hand I was satisfied my car could get 34 mpg, as promised in the brochure, and also disappointed that the figure had a certain exceptional quality to it.
Some cars for me are defined by their MPG: the Mk1 Land Rover Freelander V6 did 20 mpg. Roll-Royce Silver Shadows manage 12 mpg. Jensen Interceptors get about the same. My Peugeot 205 managed 45 mpg and never a bit more. Bristol claimed the Blenheim could get 34 mpg. The Lancia Beta’s 22 mpg was unremarked in the review I read. And the Citroen CX Turbo used so much petrol it had a 220 mile range. Odd stuff to remember.)
From 2012 to 2013 I put the fuel figures into the notebook feature of my iPhone. I didn’t learn to e-mail the data to myself. And in a small moment of carelessness my small daughter (the same one) deleted the notes and I gave up and have not resumed. Apparently as far as my psychology has it, what is important is the data set not the individual instances. I am longing to add up as many MPG figures as possible so as to get a truly definitive long-term view of my car’s real-world consumption. This hasn’t happened.
I won’t have rolling averages or a nice, single figure to set down somewhere. I have yielded control – this then is the real drive to monitor MPG. It’s a wish to control through knowledge. Now that I see that I wonder what I could do with the information other than bemoan my lead foot or my old car’s dipsomaniac character.