John Maslen found that switching off the air conditioning in the Accord led to a significant improvement in fuel consumption.
The official fuel consumption figure for our S40 on the combined cycle is 49.6mpg but there have been complaints that the Volvo is reluctant to exceed 40mpg in everyday driving.
It is often the case that drivers find it difficult to achieve anywhere near the official combined figure, as all of the fuel consumption tests are carried out on a rolling road in a lab and bear little relation to real-life driving conditions.
Over the last few days I’ve been driving our Volvo. When I got behind the wheel the trip computer was reading a pathetic 38.4mpg, so I reset it and did a few hundred miles trying to find out if 40mpg-plus was a realistic expectation.
About 250 miles later and the trip computer is now reading 46.7mpg – not the 49.6mpg apparently achievable in the lab, but a satisfactory figure.
The secret to achieving it was about 60% motorway driving, being careful not to exceed the speed limit – it’s surprising how much difference driving at 75mph can affect fuel consumption compared with driving at 70mph.
Some lazy town driving had the trip computer creeping into the 40mpg region then a return trip to Stansted airport saw it climb to where it is now – and I believe there is further room for improvement. So manufacturer claims for fuel consumption, while ‘artificial’, are not necessarily flights of fancy.
As a driver, it’s probably easy when you are on business to adopt the attitude that if you are not paying for the fuel, it doesn’t matter how much you use. However, if as a fleet operator you want to reduce those fuel bills, driving in an economical way is something your staff have to be continually conscious of.
Model Volvo S40 2.0 D SE
Price (OTR) £19,618 (£24,218 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 148
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer) £64 per month
Insurance group 10
Combined mpg 49.6
Test mpg 46.7
CAP Monitor residual value £6,825/35%
HSBC contract hire rate £429 per month
Expenditure to date Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles