Long-time fuel economy driver Donn Anderson is out to make a small car challenge in this year’s national Automobile Association EnergyWise Rally.
The Auckland motoring writer is driving a 1-litre Suzuki Alto hatchback in the event which runs from October 11 until October 14.
It will be the smallest car Anderson has ever driven in the highly competitive fuel economy event which attracts entries from major New Zealand motor vehicle distributors.
Anderson has been a regular driver in the EnergyWise rally since its inception in 2002, winning the inaugural event in a Peugeot 406 HDi.
“This will be the first time I have not driven a diesel-engined car but, more importantly, I think the new generation Alto has a real chance of being more fuel efficient than the much more costly petrol/electric hybrid models,” said Anderson.
In the last EnergyWise Rally a Honda Civic Hybrid achieved an average of 4.765 litres/100 km, while the Suzuki Alto has an official combined fuel cycle average of 4.8 litres/100 km.
“I will be targeting 4.4 litres/100 km, or 63.8 miles to the gallon, for the Alto in the four-day rally, but we might be able to do even better than this,” said Anderson.
The EnergyWise event is conducted with real time average speeds that mean no dawdling along the way.
Diesel-engined cars often produce the most economical results, but the overall and class winners are determined by the fuel costs rather than the actual fuel consumptions.
The addition of the mandatory Diesel Road User Charge puts the diesel cars at a cost disadvantage.
“I don’t think successive governments have placed enough importance on fuel efficient cars or emission standards,” said Anderson. “There should be more incentives to buy newer, smaller cars with the latest technology and less reliance on older used imports which have done nothing to enhance New Zealand’s so-called green image.”
“New Zealand is an anomaly in its make-up of motor vehicles, with almost 90 per cent of buyers of sub-1.3 litre cars being over the age of 40,” he said.
“More younger motorists should be encouraged to drive smaller, economical vehicles instead of large, older, more powerful models.”
Anderson has set several fuel economy records in New Zealand and Britain and competed in his first fuel economy event 45 years ago.
The latest generation Alto, which was launched late last year, is one of the least expensive new cars in New Zealand, with a list price less than half the petrol/electric hybrid models.
The car has already averaged 4.4 litres/100 km on a 3,400 kilometre New Zealand tour and was recently named the most fuel efficient car in the Philippine Department of Energy fuel economy event.
In a 3,000 kilometre Australian challenge, a new Alto achieved an average of 3.9 litres/100 km (72 miles per gallon).
“But this drive was in far easier conditions than we will face in the New Zealand EnergyWise event with its hills and faster average speeds,” said Anderson.
The last EnergyWise Rally was held in November 2008 and encompassed a route covering 1,640 kilometres of typical New Zealand driving conditions.
The five-door Alto is powered by a 50 kW, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, fuel injected engine.
Despite its modest 996 cm3 capacity, the 3-cylinder K10B engine in the Alto produces 90 Nm of torque, and gives the car lively performance.
With CO2 emissions of 113 grams/km, the Alto is one of the cleanest running cars available in New Zealand.
It is available with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or four-stage automatic transmission, and full drive-away pricing starting from $16,990.
The EnergyWise Rally is organised by the Automobile Association and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA).
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Automotive Marketing Team