How much can a car deliver when driven with a light foot on actual real world road conditions? Fuel economy is still among the top few priorities for new car buyers in India and keeping this in mind, we decided to put to test one of the best compact sedans in India through a 1000km gruelling fuel economy test.
Since its launch, the Figo Aspire has won thousands of hearts with its unique combination of performance, unmatched space and class leading features. The diesel version puts out an impressive power of 100PS and yet manages over 25kmpl as per ARAI certification. Can the same car run for over 40 kilometres on a litre of diesel on the highway?
The 1000km Bangalore-Mumbai stretch is famous for a lot of things. Besides being a backbone for commercial traffic between these two important cities, the highway also provides scenic views throughout and has well laid out 4-lane toll highway with light traffic – this means it is a driver’s delight and at the same time, was our test route for the Aspire. On the same stretch, we had achieved a remarkable figure of 39.94kmpl in the Renault Scala a couple of years back in 21 hours and 16 minutes. Would the Aspire beat this record in less time and consuming lesser fuel?
The complete activity was to be done in the presence of two independent witnesses and auditors Mr Kelshikar and Mr Joshi – they were to follow the Aspire in a backup vehicle. Our route would start on the other end of NICE road, going around Bangalore towards Tumkur. Other cities to follow would be Davanagere, Hubli, Belgaum, Kolhapur, Pune and finally Mumbai. The Aspire diesel was driving solo by Bunny Punia. This is how the activity went.
6:30am (5th Nov 2015) The Aspire diesel was filled up to the brim from the nearest fuel station. However, for a fuel economy test, the tank should be filled to the brim after ensuring all air bubbles have escaped and the car can take no more. Hence extra fuel was filled in a can and we drove to the starting point.
7:08am: After filling the car slowly and making sure it would take no more, the fuel lid was closed, sealed and signed by the auditors. The odometer of the car reset and so was our GPS device.
8:08am: We were noting down figures every hour. The first hour saw us covering 42km as per the GPS. The car’s display showed an economy of over 46.7kmpl. This was going to be a slow drive to Mumbai but the aim was clear.
9:08am: Two hours into the drive and Bunny was beginning to feel hungry. Thankfully, the team in the backup vehicle had packed a sandwich from the 24-hour CCD near Tumkur and the same was delivered to him on the move. Brilliant!
10:08am: 132.8km and three hours later, Bunny was beginning to feel comfortable, driving the Aspire between 55-65km/h and always hunting around for the occasional downhill section. Our average speed stood at 44.3kmph as per the GPS while the display of the Aspire showed average fuel economy to be 50kmpl. This was amazing.
11:08am: The fourth hour of the drive saw us cross the town of Hiriyur. Elevation was to rise from here towards Chitradurga, a city known for windmills and an ancient fort. Every time the elevation rose, it was a task to keep a light foot on the accelerator pedal – we had to maintain the required speed while making sure the instantaneous fuel economy display continued to show decent readings. Countless and endless calculations were the need of the hour.
12:08pm: Five hours and 231km into the drive and we were around 2300 feet above mean sea level. It was past 12 noon and thankfully the sky was overcast which meant Bunny wasn’t sweating inside the Aspire. Air-con was switched off to save fuel but all the four windows were rolled down slightly to allow for fresh air. The fuel needle was still at the full mark – afterall, the Aspire had consumed just above five litres till now!
1:08pm: 282km into the drive and we were slowly but efficiently bypassing Davanagere, a city known for yummy Benne Dosa. Yes, hunger pangs were distracting the man behind the wheel but the drive had to go on non-stop. Thankfully, the team in the backup vehicle delivered packed lunch on to the go after a while.
Our average speed and fuel economy figures were looking great in the meantime – 47kmph and 50.7kmpl respectively.
2:08pm: We covered 49km in the seventh hour. With an outside temperature of 29 degrees and our favourite tracks playing from the capable audio system, the beautiful vistas kept our eyes busy as well. 1/3rd of the journey had been done with but we still had a long way to go.
3:08pm: By the end of the eight hour, we were approaching the only single lane stretch of the engine NH4 highway, the 30odd km between the twin= cities of Hubli and Dharwad. This would test our patience to the core!
4:08pm: The single lane Hubli-Dharwad section has ample elevation changes and lot of truck traffic. As a result, average economy dropped from 50.5kmpl to 49.7kmpl. The next one hour would be tough as well as elevation would rise a lot towards Belgaum, the last major city before Maharashtra.
5:08pm: 10 hours and 480km later, the Aspire diesel seemed all set to re-write history. We had gained around 400 feet in the last one hour which meant fuel economy dropped further to 48.7kmpl as per the display. At the same time we had to make sure our average speeds remained over 48kmph – tough task given the continuous incline.
6:08pm: By the end of the 11th hour, we were crossing Belgaum and were all set for a downhill section after Nipani ghats.
7:08pm/8:08pm: Gravity is a wonderful thing. The downhill section helped us gain 52km in the 12th hour. We had by now covered 582km with an average speed of 48.5kmph. The next stop for a quick one minute break would be at the drive-in McDonalds at Kohlapur. Bunny desperately needed strong coffee for the journey ahead and again, the team came to his rescue just as he entered the drive-in at the end of the 13th hour.
9:08pm: A continuous non-stop drive of 14 hours is not a common thing, especially when you have a task at hand and need to be careful with throttle inputs. The 14th hour saw us cover only 42km due to the McDonalds break. Fuel economy had dropped as well and we were all ready to negotiate the notorious local traffic between Kolhapur and Satara. Our fuel economy as a result, kept dropping.
10:08pm: We crossed Karad in the 15th hour. Nothing much to update apart from the fact that fuel economy was dropping continuously and a couple of more Red Bull cans were done with. The driver’s body in the meantime was still not complaining much. Yes, there was the occasional yawn but fatigue had not set in completely. The Aspire was impressing us a lot.
11:08pm At 22 degrees, this was one of the coldest hour of the trip. We rolled down the windows completely and enjoyed the cool breeze as we crossed the sleepy town of Satara. Victory was just a few hours away.
00:08am: Post-midnight and we were just hour half short of Pune. Bunny had just finished his ‘dinner’ on the go and opened another bottle of water. Drinking water and keeping yourself hydrated is very important on a long drive like this.
We had been on the road for 17 hours. 818km were done with at an average pace of 48.1kmph with an average displayed economy of 46.5kmpl.
1:08pm: The 18th hour of the trip was demanding. There was a massive jam before the Pune toll. Bypassing the sea of trucks, the Aspire drove in the left most lane with two wheels off the road. Precious time was lost, precious fuel was burnt. Hence in spite of the downhill Katraj bypass, we could only cover 46km in the 18th hour. Average speed dropped to 48kmph and so did the economy – 46kmpl.
2:08pm: By the end of the 19th hour, we could smell victory. We were on the fabulous and foggy Pune-Mumbai expressway. The Aspire was cruising along at 65km/h and my eyes were frantically searching for every downhill section. Songs were off, windows were down and calculations of all sorts were going on in my head. 911km were done with. Just a few kms more.
3:08pm: 20 hours, 966km, 48.3kmph and 46.5kmpl. We were past the lonavala ghat (mountain) section and it was a straight road to our destination, a 24-hour fuel pump just outside Mumbai. The team desperately wanted food, clean washrooms and cosy beds. But things had to wait. The last few minutes saw Bunny trying to bump up the overall speed.
3:43am: 994.84km into the drive and we drove into the fuel pump. We had taken 20 hours 34 mins for the drive and beaten the fastest train between Bangalore and Mumbai as well as taken less time as compared to the previous record.
We were all anxious when the time came to fill up the Aspire. She took in 22 litres before the dispenser stopped. We tried shaking the car, started the engine and waited for a good 15 minutes and finally she took in 1.67 litres from the bottles.
This was it. 994.84km in 23.67 litres translated into a fuel economy of 42.02kmpl, a 62.6% gain over the ARAI certified economy.
Here’s a quick look at the figures – the Ford Figo Aspire Diesel had covered more distance at a higher average speed while using less fuel.