By Leanne Patterson
As my time test driving the Mazda3 nears to an end it is with a heavy heart that I will shortly be handing back the keys – it has been a joy to drive. My focus over the past months’ driving has been fuel consumption. Could I improve it?
Careful driving, and responding to the gear change prompts gained a further 3-5mpg on the fuel economy monitor, bringing the average to 50mpg. But, of course, driving in this manner is not always achievable.
I had noticed that, for numerous journeys, the stop-start (i-stop) function had failed to activate. I was at the point of booking it in at the local dealership for a check-up but decided to consult the manual again to double check there was nothing I had missed. There are a number of specific conditions that have to be met in order for the i-stop to place the engine in standby, and I thought I had ticked all the boxes, but still to no avail.
The list is long: engine sufficiently warmed? Driver’s door closed? Bonnet closed? Seatbelt fastened? Temperature dial not at maximum heating or cooling? The interior temperature and set temperature for air-conditioning were almost the same, the steering wheel was neutral and the window defroster off. I had assumed that the window defroster referred to the rear heated-window, as the front windscreen is not heated. However, it also referred to the front window screen blower/demister. Unlike the rear window switch, once selected it does not automatically turn off at the end of each journey. I’d selected this on a cold morning and it had been on ever since. As a condition that prevents the i-stop from working, it would perhaps be more efficient for this to automatically turn off at the end of each journey.
Nonetheless, with the i-stop fully functioning, my average mpg has now stretched to 51-52mpg.