The tight contest between Renault and Suzuki for the title as the most fuel-efficient brand in the inaugural WesBank SA Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB went right down to the final fill up in Cape Town on Saturday, 16 November, after five days and 2 500km of driving on various main roads.
The route took the 40 competing vehicles from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and George.
In the end it was a trio of Renault cars – Captur, Duster Techroad and Kwid Climber – that took the coveted title by 0.0275 l/100 km. The battle between these two brands swung back and forth during the event, with Renault coming out top at the end of the first day, Suzuki topping the chart at the end of the second, third and fourth days with Renault taking the honours at the critical final refuel in Cape Town.
The title was judged by averaging the fuel consumption of the best three performers in each of the brands that had cars in the field. Renault’s average was 5.0695 l/100km, while the Suzuki trio of a Baleno, Ignis and Swift had a combined average of 5.0970 l/100 km. Third place went to Mahindra – KUV 100 and two XUV 300’s – ahead of Nissan – Qashqai, Micra and Navara – and Ford – Fiesta, Kuga and Ranger.
The car with the lowest consumption was the Renault Captur with a 1.5-litre diesel turbocharged engine, crewed by motoring journalist Wynter Murdoch and experienced rally navigator Carolyn Swan. It averaged 4,7319 l/100km.
Next best was the Toyota Aygo with a 1-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, crewed by motoring journalist Carri-Ann Jane and yoga instructor Roxanne Jones, who were taking part in their first competitive motoring competition. The Aygo averaged 4.8328 l/100km. They also won the prize for the highest placed all-female crew.
Third best on fuel consumption was the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 diesel turbo at 4.8526 l/100km. It was crewed by Diete and Eckhard Engelbrecht.
The tussle among the bakkies competing in the class for turbo diesel double cabs with engines of less than 2 500 cc was also very tight, with the Ford Ranger 2-litre, driven by another motoring journalist, Colin Mileman, and navigated by experienced Henry Kohne, eventually taking top honours with an overall average of 6.8179 l/100km. It was followed by a Mitsubishi Triton (6.8513 l/100km), a Nissan Navara (6.9692 l/100km), a Toyota Hilux 2.4 (6.9782 l/100km) and a Mahindra PikUp (7.7867 l/100km).
Suzuki ended up with six class wins (Ignis, Vitara 1.6, Vitara 1.4, Baleno, Swift Sport and Ertiga), while Ford (Fiesta and Ranger), Hyundai (Sante Fe and Venue), Renault (Captur and Duster) and Toyota (Aygo and Hilux 2.8) all won two classes, with the other class winners being Honda (HRV), Lexus (UX Hybrid) and Mahindra (KUV 100).
The competitors were monitored throughout the Economy Tour by Ctrack, a leading vehicle tracking and mobility solutions company. Real-time information from Ctrack was available continuously to the event organisers. Ctrack could accurately measure the average speeds that participants achieved as well as how long they took to complete individual timed sections.
Using the system, it was possible to see if participants got lost or purposely deviated from the route, thereby providing the organisers with more control over proceedings, allowing them to make informed decisions as to what actions should be taken.
All cars were also fitted with a dashcam facing forward and another focused on the driver and the vehicle’s controls. The outward-facing cameras were used to monitor driving behaviour such as passing on solid lines, dangerous driving and the like, while the interior-focused unit was to check on unacceptable driver behaviour such as shifting into neutral and freewheeling.
Penalties were imposed for late arrival at control check points and for driving infringements at the rate of one litre of fuel for each penalty point.
“The objective of this event was to provide consumers with fuel consumption figures that are relevant to going on a road trip in South Africa using main roads, and I believe we have achieved that aim,” commented chief organiser Charl Wilken.