Driving a vehicle that delivers good fuel economy translates into ongoing cost savings as well as reducing your environmental impact.

That’s why people are often very aware of miles-per-gallon performance when selecting a vehicle. Efficient vehicles also tend to depreciate less because they are more desirable on the second-hand market.

In this backdrop, mpg is a key metric for vehicle selection and the manufacturers make it easy to find and compare across vehicles – often publicising the stats as part of their marketing strategy.

However drivers must be aware that what the figures promise on paper does not always translate directly into vehicle performance on the road. These figures are derived through vehicle testing which takes place in controlled conditions.

The reality is that you will hardly ever be driving in comparable conditions as uneven road surfaces, inclines and weather will all influence vehicle performance.

The driver also has a massive impact on fuel consumption. Just because a vehicle is capable of a quoted mpg figure doesn’t mean that everyone can drive to its optimum.

Changing gear at the wrong time, harsh accelerating or braking, excessive speeds and unnecessary weight in the vehicle all reduce the distance that a vehicle can travel on a tank of fuel.

For these reasons, you shouldn’t bank on being at the peak of mpg performance very often. These figures are of course essential because they give an indication of what the vehicle is capable of and they are of course the basis for the BIK tax decision.

They also allow you to compare one vehicle against another, which allows you to make an informed decision.

So don’t be shocked if you are using more fuel than the figures suggest; but drive smoothly, safely and at reasonable speeds to make the most of your fuel, and get as close to optimum performance as you possibly can.

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