Green feel­ings go in

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - Mark Hinch­liffe

FUEL econ­omy has more to do with your mind, the size of your right foot and the type and colour of car you are driv­ing.

Yes, you can do all the maths and physics and work out on pa­per how an en­gine, trans­mis­sion, aero­dy­nam­ics, weight and other fac­tors can af­fect econ­omy – but th­ese are purely the­o­ret­i­cal.

They make a state­ment on pa­per, but they don’t mean much in the real world.

I re­cently drove three Holden V6 ve­hi­cles with the new 3.0 and 3.6-litre spark ig­ni­tion di­rect in­jec­tion (SIDI) en­gines.

The Omega and Ber­lina of all body styles get the 3.0L en­gine and the rest of the range has the 3.6L.

Holden quotes fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures for the Omega 3.0L as 9.3L/100km, down from 10.7L/100km in the su­per­seded model, while the SV6 Ute has the big­gest im­prove­ment for the 3.6L, down 13 per cent to 10L/100km.

I drove a grey Ber­lina Sport­wagon (3.0L), which re­turned 10.5L/100km, an even greyer Calais sedan (3.6L), which yielded 10.7L/100km, and a bright-coloured ute (3.6L), which failed all econ­omy tests with a poor 12.3L/100km.

I can­not claim to have driven to the stan­dard con­di­tions as laid out for of­fi­cial ADR fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures – and I can’t even claim to have driven the same dis­tance nor type of road con­di­tions for each of the three tri­als.

Yet th­ese fig­ures still re­veal a lot about the cars’ per­for­mance and econ­omy.

The first thing of note is how good the econ­omy fig­ures are for the Sport­wagon, which is heav­i­est with its big cargo area which I utilised with a load­edup trip to the dump.

It’s not the 9.3L/100km quoted by Holden but it’s quite re­spectable and in­cluded the com­muter crawl to work for five days, week­end shop­ping and er­rands, and very lit­tle high­way driv­ing.

It’s also nowhere near the 6.48L/100km it achieved in the re­cent Global Green Chal­lenge from Ade­laide to Dar­win.

The Calais is also wor­thy of note.

It per­formed much the same ‘‘real-world’’ du­ties – al­beit no trip to the dump – and re­turned al­most the same econ­omy fig­ures as the Sport­wagon.

Both cars ap­peal to my fam­ily na­ture with their roomy cabin and func­tional de­sign.

Con­se­quently, I drove like a fam­ily man who needs to get home to his fam­ily in the ’burbs ev­ery night.

Then along came the ute.

It was fit­ted with a tow bar and there was our old beer fridge that blew up and needed cart­ing to the dump, so it was in for some pu­n­ish­ment.

Plus there was cir­cle work to be done . . .

Well, not ex­actly, but with the lighter weight and the big­ger en­gine, it seemed to sprint off the line a lit­tle more will­ingly and dance around in an en­ter­tain­ing fash­ion in the cor­ners.

All this, plus the vi­brant metal­lic or­ange colour ($500 ex­tra), got me all ex­cited all the way to my big right foot.

The re­sult was fuel fig­ures that seem to call Holden a liar.

So, un­less you are com­pet­ing in the Global Green Chal­lenge, fuel econ­omy is largely go­ing to rely on your at­ti­tude – it also helps to have a se­dately coloured fam­ily sedan or wagon.

If econ­omy is not your sole goal, but sim­ply a happy side ben­e­fit, then you may be pleased to note that th­ese new en­gines are also more pow­er­ful.

Holden claims the power out­put from the 3.6L is up 15kW to 210kW.

And, even though the new 3.0L is the small­est Com­modore en­gine in more than 20 years, it still de­vel­ops a healthy 190kW.

The en­gines also sound qui­eter and more re­fined.

MIXED RE­SULTS:

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