Real-world fuel economy and emissions testing

Anyone who has ever tracked their fuel consumption would know that official fuel-consumption figures are a farce – but the AAA has done the hard science to prove it.

fuel efficiency figures

The preliminary findings of the Australian Automobile Association’s real-world emissions and fuel economy testing showing the inadequacies of official laboratory testing would come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to their trip computer.

The testing, on roads near Melbourne in suburban, freeway and rural settings showed greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption was up to 35 per cent higher than the official claimed figure and 20 per cent higher on average.

This ties in with what we’ve often found with our long-term testing for Wheels magazine which isn’t as scientific as the AAA’s research, but has long confirmed the way cars are officially tested isn’t representative of what owners would experience

For example, the long term reviews in this month’s Wheels magazine’s Summer edition include an eclectic mix of cars including the Suzuki Baleno GLX Turbo, Toyota Hilux SR5, Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, Audi TT Sport quattro, Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport and the Citroen Cactus. All of these have exceeded their official fuel economy rating during their time with the Wheels reviewers. It’s worth noting that these figures do not suggest deception on the car manufacturer’s part, but rather highlight of the inadequacies of the official testing regime.

Fuel efficiency testing

As the AAA points out, car manufacturers are only doing enough to pass the laboratory tests and in some cases, as the Volkswagen Dieselgate saga showed, come cars are being tuned to advance lab test figures in the knowledge this doesn’t reflect real world performance.

Regardless how cars are tested, you will still end up with different results based on individual driving habits, loads and traffic conditions, which is why such figures should only ever be used as a guide.


Suzuki Baleno GLX Turbo
Official combined fuel economy: 5.2L/100km
Wheels testing fuel economy: 7.1L/100km
Distance travelled: 176km (urban and motorway)

Toyota Hilux SR5
Official (urban): 9.1L/100km
Wheels: 12.9L/100km
Distance travelled: 502km (urban)

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Official (combined): 7.5L/100km
Wheels: 12.8L/100km
Distance travelled: 838km (urban, country and motorway)

Audi TT Sport quattro
Official (combined): 6.8L/100km
Wheels: 9.8L/100km
Distance travelled: 4699km (urban, sports and motorway)

Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport
Official (combined): 4.2L/100km
Wheels: 6.8L/100km
Distance travelled: 5165km (Urban, country, sports, motorway)

Citroen Cactus
Official (combined): 4.3L/100km
Wheels: 6.0L/100km
Distance travelled: 1214km (urban, motorway)


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