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Byline: Chris Russon

Being green is the way to be seen for the modern motorist trying to beat the credit crunch.

Eco-driving is how to combat high fuel prices and keep running costs to a minimum.

The technique is not difficult and even the average driver should achieve savings of up to 15%.

For the private motorist that adds up to hundreds of pounds a year while it can mean tens of thousands in the bank for fleet operators.

The annual MPG Marathon has just demonstrated how many miles per gallon are possible from everyday cars driving in everyday conditions.

A Toyota Yaris 1.4-litre diesel achieved a massive 84.6mpg over the two-day event while a V8 Corvette managed to improve its consumption by an astonishing 61.2% proving that even supercars can be driven economically.

For the 'Vette that was an average of 30.9mpg compared to the official figure of 19.2 while the Toyota's improvement was 34.8% over the manufacturer's claimed 62.8mpg.

I drove a Peugeot 308 1.6-litre diesel in the marathon and clocked up an average of 73mpg, 32% higher than the 55.3mpg the French car maker claims as the combined figure for its popular hatchback.

That was good enough to take second place in the class for cars with emissions between 120 and 160g/km of CO2, beaten by a Honda Accord 2.2-litre diesel that managed 73.9mpg or 49% above the claimed figure.

The best performance for a petrol car was 57.8mpg from a 1.4-litre Chevrolet Aveo - some 10mpg over its claimed average.

In all, 39 cars and vans from 20 manufacturers took part in the event driving more than 400 miles from Bristol to Stockport and back taking in all types of roads including motorways.

With the vehicles running on Total Excellium fuel my jaunt consumed 5.6 gallons of diesel at a cost of pounds 29.18. The average speed was 34mph and total CO2 output was 66.5 kilos.

Add that up and there cannot be any more efficient way of completing such a journey - despite what the anti-car brigade may say.

In one sector on the route the Peugeot averaged an incredible 122mpg and only on one leg did it fall below the official 55.3mpg average. For most of the trip the 308 was easily managing to hold 76mpg.

A similar car, using the exact same 110bhp engine, recently set a world economy record of 94mpg driving around Australia.

Overall, 16 of the MPG Marathon competitors managed more than 70mpg and eight topped in excess of 80mpg. That is testimony to the strides being taken by the car makers to improve vehicle efficiency.

Weight reduction, lean burn engines, improved aerodynamics and even tyres with low rolling resistance all help to eke out as many miles per precious gallon.

Significantly some of the so-called eco cars taking part in the marathon, such as Ford's Focus EcoNetic, managed good mpg figures in the mid-70s but achieved low percentage improvements, which indicates the benefits of high economy are being delivered by the car and not just the driver.

Nevertheless, the key to eco motoring stems from driving technique. There are lots of tips on the internet to help get the most from your car and save you pounds at the pumps.
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Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 3, 2011
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