As any commercial driver will point out, fuel consumption is directly related to load weight. There’s also a looser relationship with aerodynamics, road conditions and of course driving technique.
Bashing manufacturers’ official mpg figure is a popular hobby among motorist, all the more so since we’ve learned that many manufacturers have been rigging their emissions testing.
But this year’s Fleet World MPG Marathon suggests that in the van sector at least, manufacturers’ official figures do provide a realistic idea of what’s possible in moderately favourable conditions.
Only five light commercial vehicles entered this year’s contest. Here’s how they fared:
|Model||MPG Marathon mpg||Manufacturers’ combined cycle mpg||Difference|
|Citroen Dispatch BlueHDI 95 S (SWB)||54.76mpg||51.40mpg||+6.5%|
|Isuzu D-Max Blade Auto Pickup||35.24mpg||33.60mpg||+14.9%|
|Fiat Fiorino 1.3 MultiJet SX 80hp||72.08mpg||64.20mpg||+12.3%|
|Ford Transit Custom 330 SWB 125ps (RAC patrol, fully loaded)||39.84mpg||40.90mpg||-2.6%|
|Vauxhall Vivaro (current model, no details provided)||46.29mpg||46.30mpg||-0.02%|
What’s remarkable about the figures above is how close they are to the manufacturer’s official combined cycle figures. In all but one case, there’s virtually no difference.
I’ve highlighted two vans on this list for their outstanding performance. The first is the Fiat Fiorino driven former fleet manager Doug Powell and co-driver Tony Waddington. The Fiorino managed more than 72mpg — that’s a 12.3% improvement on Fiat’s official combined cycle figures.
As the smallest van present, you’d expect the Fiorino to deliver the lowest fuel consumption. What’s impressive is that while all of the other vans broadly matched their manufacturers’ figures, the Fiorino beat its official figure by a big margin.
Of course, Powell and Waddington’s Fiorino wasn’t loaded. None of the vans were — except one. RAC Patrol of the Year Charlie Harding was driving his Ford Transit Custom work van, fully loaded with the payload of more than 500 tools and spare parts carried by all RAC Patrols.
Despite this significant weight handicap, Harding and his co-driver Peter Thompson managed to come within 1mpg of Ford’s official combined cycle figure of 40.9mpg.
As was the case last year, by entering a patrol with a fully-loaded van, the RAC has demonstrated that work vans can deliver decent fuel consumption when driven well.