Diesel auto SA's most frugal car

2012-07-30 13:23

South Africa’s most fuel-efficient car has been crowned after the annual SA Total Economy Run in Mpumalanga from July 27-29, 2012.

For two days, 21 vehicle manufacturers fielding 53 crews covered 1105km of the Mpumalanga Lowveld for the 36th edition of the event.

A number of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles were entered into classes determined by engine capacity ranging from 1100 to 3000cc.


Each vehicle had a crew of two required to stick to specific speeds and arrive at checkpoints at particular times to discourage “unrealistic speeds”, the sponsor said.

After two days and 1105km, Stuart Greig and Wynand Gerber steered a Ford Fiesta 1.6 auto to the top of the overall leader board with a fuel consumption of 4.48524 litres/100km. Which is fine in straight numbers, but the correct way to accurately measure fuel-efficiency is to take the weight of the car and measure that against the fuel consumed over a certain route and distance.

That data was not available when this article was published.

The Fiesta was also the top performer in the diesel category.

In the overall petrol category, Jeannette Kok Kritzinger and Riette Wannenburg were tops in a Peugeot 107. The fuel consumption recorded was 5.063 litres/100km.

Defending category winners Robbie Coetzee and Craig Trott took to the route once more in a Toyota Aygo and claimed third position in the petrol category with 5.121 litres/100km.
Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Stefanie Botha teamed up in a Lexus GS450h and recorded 7.924 litres/100km to finish 21st overall in the petrol classification and first in their class.


Not just die-hard gearheads where in action, though, as a number of radio and TV personalities strapped in alongside beauty queens for the task.

The 2012 economy run also did its part for the environment through a tie-up with the Leopard Conservation Project with which it hopes to create a rehabilitation centre for injured and rescued leopards.

Fred Barrangé and Chris Pearce from the Leopard Conservation Project contested the event in a Citroën DS3 e_HDi 90 and recorded the second-best fuel consumption of 5.503 litres/100km in the deiselcategory.

For every litre of fuel used by this team, a cash donation will be made towards the centre, which Total has pledged to double.

*Please note the data in this item was supplied by the organisers and has been taken at face value.

  • Nicorien Le Roux - 2012-07-30 18:02

    No VW Polo diesel in the race?? Haha!

      ebon.geist - 2012-07-31 10:51

      A Polo Bluemotion diesel did compete. It scored 5.096 l/100km.

  • ronald.koenis.1 - 2012-07-30 18:07

    Great news that an automatic car has won the total economy run in terms liter of fuel used. Given the additional benefits of automatics such as their non stalling nature, lack of roll back on hills and driving ease during bumper to bumper traffic I think automatics should become standard.

      nicholas.e.devilliers - 2012-07-31 08:57

      and then you lose the feel of driving your car properly! not everyone wants a lazy auto!

      ronald.koenis.1 - 2012-08-01 18:29

      @ Nicholas. Most Automatic boxes have manual override if you really want to participate in the gear changes. At least then you don't damage the engine (over revving) or drivetrain (gear scratching) with inappropriate clutching or incorrect gear selection. I bet you also want to switch on your lights manually, and activate the aircon intermittentantly in order to get a seemingly reasonable cabin temperature instead of letting technology (climate control) do it's job?

  • jacques.d.plessis.75 - 2012-07-30 18:47

    Yet we dont get enogh diesel engines in other brands. Who wants to drive a Fiesta Ambiente diesel that has almost no features. Bring it in the Titanium.

  • aldrin.joseph.54 - 2012-07-31 09:37

    check out http://www.totalmotorsport.co.za/os/OsTSAMotorsport.nsf/home?readform - it has full vehicle listing. Fiesta is listed as Trend Auto not Ambiente. Could this be a new model or a typo?

  • ebon.geist - 2012-07-31 10:59

    This event is interesting but not really an authoritive measure of what the most economical or green vehicles out there are. For example, CO2 emissions per liter are different between diesel and petrol. Also this run is basically reflective of steady state, constant speed driving - an area in which the advantages of a hybrid barely come into play at all. Not that I am saying the small diesels that did well here are bad, but there are definitely instances in which hybrids achieve better results, especially if CO2 emissions are of concern.

      Vickers - 2012-07-31 15:49

      According to http://www.cicero.uio.no/fulltext/index_e.aspx?id=6871 and http://www.ecotravel.org.uk/fuels_5.html CO2 emissions are usually less for similar power output for diesel than petrol. Diesel exhaust gasses however includes nitrogen oxide and particulate that is absent in gasoline exhaust gasses. In the long run it does seem that diesel is a fraction (albeit a small one) better for the environment than petrol.

      ebon.geist - 2012-07-31 16:16

      Vickers: Please reread what I actually said: "CO2 emissions *per liter* are different between diesel and petrol." I didn't say anything about per unit power or per km, I very specifically said per liter, which is what the total economy run measures. This is largely down to the fact that diesel is just over 20% denser than petrol. Yes, you are correct that CO2 output from a diesel engine is *typically* slightly less than that of a petrol engine when both are producing similar power outputs, but the CO2 produced from combusting a liter of diesel (2.7kg) is more than that from combusting a liter of petrol (2.3kg). If we apply these numbers to the results of the Total Economy run, the best diesel produces 12.1kg of CO2/100km while the best petrol produces 11.65kg of CO2/100km. So in this case, in spite of the diesel engine consuming slighlty less fuel in liters, it actually consumes a greater mass of fuel, and from an environmental perspective, produces more CO2. Which is the point I was trying to make. The thing is that a lot of people *only* ever look at liters/100km and assume that this is directly proportional to environmental friendliness, cost etc, whereas one actually needs to realise that diesel and petrol cannot simply be compared in this manner. If anything, this little exercise shows that the perception that diesel is the way to go for green cars may actually be wrong, and that new petrol engine technologies may be better, even if the (l/km) numbers hide it.

      klaus.walter.7146 - 2012-08-01 01:45

      Extremely interesting articles. Thanks for enlighten me on a few facts about petrol and diesel.

  • steve.cullerton.3 - 2012-07-31 12:14

    Have just come back from New Zealand, nearly all cars are autos, you have to struggle to find a small or medium sized manual, same in Australia, so why do the same brands here have either no autos in their range, or maybe just one? More autos and diesels please !

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-02 21:17

    Old gits drive auto boxes

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