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Light weight cars in Europe Get 78 mpg

There’s a interesting blog currently posted on the light weight car topic here, click upper left to read. Where fuel is considerably pricier than in the USA (e.g. Europe) these sorts of car are said to be quite popular, especially in the diesel configuration. For example the 1994 Citroen AX 1.4D got 78 mpg! In fact that car achieved some sort of world record given out by the Guinness folks for the most miles traveled on 10 gallons of fuel: 1000 miles from Calais, France to Barcelona Spain , all on just 10 gallons of fuel. Must have been traveling in the same direction as the wind :wink:

I read about this car in an article in the November issue of Practical Classics magazine as a car that’s a good choice for a fixer-upper (in Europe). The restorer (James Walshe) paid just $250 for a 94 model out of service for several years w/only 33K miles on the clock. A new windshield and routine maintenance put it back on the road. He says this car is good for wine lovers b/c it has wine bottle holders built into the door panels :slight_smile: . This one isn’t made of fiberglass, instead b/c of its aluminum engine and plastic panels. He suggests drivers of this car to try to not run into any solid objects … lol …

I wonder if many classic car-restorers in the USA would spring for a car like that, were they available here?

Just what I want. A slow (52 hp, 0-60 in about 15 seconds), stinky, small car that’ll fold in wreck.

I’d want to see what real-world mpgs are. EU driving tests were pretty optimistic in years past

Here’s what I could find, a lot less than 78 mpg:

Fuel consumption simulation based on the European type of traffic
(mileage)|extra-urban / city / highway / average combined:|

l/100km: 4.4-5.3 / 5.3-6.4 / 6.3-7.6 / 5.2
mpg (imp.): 53.5-64.2 / 44.4-53.3 / 37.4-44.8 / 54.3
mpg (U.S.): 44.5-53.4 / 36.9-44.3 / 31.1-37.3 / 45.2
km/l: 18.9-22.7 / 15.7-18.9 / 13.2-15.9 / 19.2
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Imperial vs US gallon? I wonder if the British gallon is larger than the USA gallon? I have no way to know if the 78 mpg figure is accurate or not, just reporting what the article said of course.

Just looked it up, the British gallon (imperial) is 4.55 liters, while the USA gallon is 3.79 L, so mpg figures in England would run 20% higher than in the USA. That must be part of the explanation, as the 53.5-64.2 in imperial gallons figure quoted above is approaching 78 mpg anyway.

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A British (Imperial) gallon is 4.5 liters while a US gallon is 3.8 liters.

Almost every urinal sold in North America now has the 3.8 lpf (liters per flush) stenciled on it.

Typically when converting people use 1.2 US gallons per Imperial gallon as an easy conversion factor. So a car that gets 78 mpg Imperial gets 78/1.2=65 US mpg.


Yep. 65 mpg (US) is still pretty good, but not beyond belief. I think 0-60 in 15 seconds however would be speedy enough to keep up w/traffic on US roads for the most part.

I don’t think so

People would be honking at you, and chp officers would be telling you to either speed up or get off the freeway

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Acceleration doesn’t have much to do with how fast you drive. I seldom if ever accelerate at a rate faster than 0 to 60 in 15 seconds and usually have my cruise control set for 10 over the speed limit unless the speed limit is 75 and then i go 82.

It isn’t fast acce;eration the lets you make good time on a trip, it’s how little you slow down ot stop.

That will not be advisable if you ever drive the I-44 corridor with out of state tags through Oklahoma. That will get you pulled over and possibly let you meet the Highway Patrol drug dog .

Never been in Oklahoma, but it sounds like they prey on out of staters like Ohio. I don’t like heat so I have never been in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, or Mississippi.

As others mentioned you have to account for the conversion to US gallons, and if you take the figures that @texases mentioned, that’s using the EU’s figures, which tend to be more optimistic than what the post 2007 EPA methodology produces. The EU’s Urban/Extra Urban figures tend to be similar to what EPA estimates were during the early 80’s. Figures that nobody ever actually achieved in real world use. With that said, with some hyper miling techniques, and favorable conditions, I wouldn’t doubt that 78 MPG would be doable with that car.

As for me, I think it’s too slow, and also a deathtrap. If I’m going to drive something european, that unsafe, and from the 90’s. I’ll take a Caterham 7 Superlight. It’ll probably still get 40 MPG too,


When I hear this, I always have to add that the reason the price in higher on the other side of the pond is that half of the pump price is tax, largely to pay for social programs. It’s quite different here where the tax usually goes to pay for the roads we drive on. They drive a lot of motor scooters too over there which are quite light.

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A new Toyota Prius in Europe is rated at 3.4 L/100 KM,

That is equal to 69 MPG in the U.S.

Or 83 MPG British.

I would think that the European ECE standards is just as “precise” as the US EPA standards.

Copied from for the car in question:

3.6 / 5 / 5.2 (4.6) l/100km
78.5 / 56.5 / 54.3 (61.4) mpg (imp.)
65.3 / 47 / 45.2 (51.3) mpg (U.S.)
27.8 / 20 / 19.2 (21.7) km/l

In Denmark, there is currently 10 models from various manufacturers for sale which is rated above 70 mpg US.
I have heard a few say, that they have reached the ratings a few times under perfect conditions.

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Light weight stands in the way of crash protection and other safety features. But cars can become safer, faster, more fuel efficient, AND get heavier. I compare my 1999 Honda Civic to newer cars I am considering. One that looks good to me is the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback. Compared to the 1999 Civic, the 2019 Corolla Hatchback is:

3 in. shorter
3.5 in. wider
168 HP at 6600 RPM, vs. 127 HP at 6600 RPM
155 ft./lb. torque at 4800 RPM, vs. 107 at 5500 RPM
MPG 30/38/33 (Toyota estimate), vs. 27/34/30 (EPA, and close to my experience)
All the above while being
547 lb. HEAVIER

What a difference 20 years of regulation, competition and engineering have made!

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I dunno, but how can you get any smaller than a Smart Car? Lighter? Maybe make it out of aluminum or however they say it over there. But already it is essentially a lawn mower with a roof and no blades. In Minnesota I cringe every time I see one of these out on the highway after a snow storm. Short wheel base and ready to spin like a top on an icy patch. Like I have said before, gas mileage is only one part of the total equation of owning a vehicle. Unless you drive 50,000 miles a year, what really is the annual cost difference of 30 mpg versus 50? A few hundred dollars? Is it really worth it?

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Lightness alone does not mean good gas mileage, a lot of motorcycles only get 40 mpg, even though they weigh less 600 lbs. The Smart Car, perhaps it’s light, but it has the aerodynamics of a Jeep.

I ride a small motorcycle that will get 70+ mpg, provided I stay under 50 mph. Take it on the freeway and keep up with 70 mph traffic and you are lucky to get even 50 mpg.
Motorcycles are high drag/low mass vehicles, which means they almost don’t notice up and down grades in the road, but dread head winds.
It also means that a motorcycle with a top speed of only 100 mph can out accelerate cars that have a much higher top speed at urban speeds.

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I hear you re: Smart cars. I always cringe a little and wonder if the owners have a realistic comprehension of the laws of physics.

Then again, people in big SUVs looking at me in my Honda Civic may have the same reaction, if they care at all.

Interesting article in the paper paper today on the street riots in France. Seems Macron is increasing the tax on diesel by 6% to fight climate change. The populous is 3 to 1 agin it but he won’t budge. Didn’t they just vote this guy in?

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True! But GOVERNMENTS have a different agenda. The United Nations committee on the environment wants us to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050!!! If not, there is a danger of more flooding etc.

The media and Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi all endorse this impossible to obtain and dubiously needed target.

I support a gradual move to electric cars and better energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

In other words, average citizens are not consulted on these “high minded” goals that may cause considerable stress on consumers.

The International Energy Agency still forecasts increased oil and gas demand by 2050 even with their most pessimistic outlook. The demand in North America and Europe will level out by that time.

Our family makes car decisions based on NEEDS and picks the most frugal vehicles that meet those needs. A Smart Car does not meet any of our needs and so are large SUVs with monster engines. A well priced Tesla 3 might meet our future needs as a second car.

I believe it might have already been a few years ago