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The Grand gas experiment of 2008

June 27, 2008

The wife recently sent me a link to a site called fuelfrog, a site that helps you track your cars mileage. It has twitter support, so you can use your cell phone to twitter the info and it’ll get into your account (now I just need to figure out how the hell to do that part, but I’m smart, I can do it!).

My current car is a 2006 Subaru Impreza STi. Lot’s of horsepower and torque, not so great on the gas mileage. I’m also a huge fan of Top Gear. In the first episode of the new season (11), they actually had a Prius on. They mentioned a study from CNW Research that claimed some SUV’s, over their lifetimes, are more environmentally friendly than a Prius. Of course, the study is crap, but that’s not really the point. I watch Top Gear for entertainment, not rigorous science (that’s what Mythbusters is for 🙂 ).

However, they had a really good nugget that enforced something everyone should know, but sometimes it helps to see it. Since this is Top Gear, they had a race. This race was between a Prius and a new model BMW M3. Of course, the M3 is MUCH faster, but that’s not the point. Here’s how it went. They would do 10 laps of the track, with the Prius in front going as fast as it could, and the M3 would just follow behind. They would then figure out the MPG for each vehicle.

The results shouldn’t be surprising, when you think about it. The Prius got ~17mpg, while the M3 got ~19. The Prius, of course, is NOT meant to be driven like a bat out of hell, hence the crappy gas mileage in this race. If you drove a Prius like a normal person it would trounce the M3 in gas mileage. The point here is that your driving habits can make a big difference.

So. Armed with Fuelfrog, my STi, and my recently installed boost gauge, I’ve decided to try a little experiment. Getting on the gas kicking in the turbo destroys your gas mileage. With the boost gauge, I can easily tell when I’m getting into that range. I’m going to see if I can get better mileage by not getting on the turbo. The first thing I needed to do, of course, is get a baseline for my normal bat out of hell self, and it’s 15.7mpg. That’s me punching it off the line, accelerating as fast as possible, *cough*driving a tad faster than the speed limit*cough*, etc. I’m going to try a tank or two driving much nicer and see what happens.

P.S. Yeah, it’s Top Gear, so take any numbers they give with a HUGE grain of salt. Entertainment purposes, remember that.

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