My Pontiac Firefly / Chevrolet Metro / Geo Metro / Suzuki Swift welcomes fuel efficiency nerds everywhere

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Latest fuel economy stats
for my '98 Firefly 1.0L 5-speed
  best: 2.3 125.1 104.2
 worst: 6.4  44.1  36.8
prev.3: 3.3  82.3  68.6
   all: 3.8  73.4  61.1
L/100km | mpg IMP | mpg US
Jul 28/07: more, graph, calc.
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Best non-hybrid MPG: Mitsubishi Mirage
Highest MPG for a new car: Mitsubishi Mirage?
Mitsubishi's 1.2L, 3-cylinder Mirage is the first new non-hybrid car that can match an old Metro's mileage. The company says 44 mpg (US) highway, 37 city. (Some drivers are already beating that in various economy driving contests.) How? An efficient engine, very light weight and aerodynamic design.

Cheapest to own? 2015 Nissan Micra Forum
2015 Nissan Micra Forum
The Micra's fuel economy isn't its most notable feature -- the $10,000 price is. That makes it one of the cheapest cars to own. And its 109hp, 1.6L engine and good power-to-weight ratio means it's fun to drive too.

Latest 10 posts:
1. Recipe for getting 99.7 mpg from a Geo Metro
2. - famous aerodynamic Honda Civic gets a web site
3. Snapshot: effect of tire pressure on rolling resistance
4. 65+ vehicle modifications for better MPG
5. Metro mania: forget stocks, put your money in old Geos!
6. 100+ Hypermiling / ecodriving tips for better gas mileage
7. Experiment: how long should a block heater be plugged in?
8. Everything old is new again: Car and Driver magazine modifies an econobox to improve MPG
9. Project Convertible XFi: alfresco efficiency
10. The floor is yours: MetroMPG opens a fuel efficiency forum
11 ... 64. Show all posts

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Good MPG forums: I spend a lot of time at and have also been known to lurk around

Chevrolet Aveo forum - discussion of the Chevrolet Aveo and its siblings (Pontiac Wave, Pontiac G3, Suzuki Swift+, Daewoo Kalos).

> Lots more Metro links...
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Send me a note:
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com,
or here

MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to
ScanGauge fuel economy computer Save fuel with a ScanGauge II fuel economy computer.
I personally recommend this tool. I've owned both versions (I and II) and can't say enough good things about it. If you're serious about saving fuel, get one.

For more information and to order, visit EcoModder.

Review: 1998 Pontiac Firefly - should you get one??

Posted Wednesday, September 7/05 in Suzukiclone info

front - 1998 Pontiac Firefly

Welcome to the bottom of the automotive food chain!

When this car was new, it was the cheapest car for sale in the Canadian market (the U.S. had the bottom-feeding Yugo for a few years).

And my particular car is the cheapest of the cheap, with absolutely no optional equipment. No power steering. No tachometer. No rear wiper. No privacy cover under the hatchback (I made one). No remote hatch or fuel door release. There isn't even a trip odometer.

How cheap is it? It's so cheap, only the driver's door gets a switch to turn the interior light on when the door is opened. The passenger side has a hole where the switch should go, but there's just a blank in its place.

But is cheap bad? Depends what you mean by bad.

If by bad you mean slow and lightly built, then things admittedly don't look very good.

cockpit - 1998 Pontiac Firefly

Because it is slow. The growly 993 cc, 6 valve, 3 cylinder engine generates a mere 55 horsepower. That's weak enough to cause you to take notice of hills on the freeway that wouldn't get a passing thought in other cars, and to make you carefully consider your options when merging with fast-flowing traffic from a dead stop. A power-sapping automatic transmission would definitely not be recommended with this engine.

And it is lightly built. At only 820 kg / 1800 lbs, you need to pay attention to your lane position in a crosswind, and you will feel air turbulence from the big trucks.

But it's precisely because it's slow and lightly built that it remains the reigning non-hybrid, non-diesel fuel economy champion, according to the NRCan figures: 66 mpg (4.2 L/100 km) highway / 52 mpg (5.5 L/100 km) city (Imperial gallons). (How easily attainable those figures are is a subject for a future post.)

hatchback - 1998 Pontiac Firefly

My main concern with the "lightness" of construction is whether it applies also to the mechanical bits, with consequences for reliability and longevity. While shopping around, I test drove three used Firefly/Metro/Swifts, and two of them had weak synchros on second gear - shift quickly and things got crunchy. Difficult to say if this is the result of previous ham-fisted owners, or because the mechanicals are under-engineered. Overall, "refined" or "robust" are words I would not use to describe the mechanical feel of this car.

As for longevity, only time will tell. I've had the car for 5 months now and aside from expected repairs needed for certification/e-test when I got it (at 141,000 kms), nothing has broken. On the plus side, should you have to fix a Metro, replacement parts are generally inexpensive.

Main peeve? Ineffectual rain gutters on the windshield A-pillars that let water stream freely into the side windows, even if only slightly open.

Around town, the diminutive size, independent suspension and light weight give it nimble handling. It's a cinch to park, and you won't really notice the unassisted steering.

rear - 1998 Pontiac Firefly

Also on the plus side, it's got cupholders, map pockets, intermittent wipers, and a mirror on the passenger door (though you have to wind down the window to adjust it manually). The seats are surprisingly supportive too (for my 5'10"), even as thinly padded and upholstered as they are. While this may sound like damning with faint praise, it all counts for something at this end of the automotive spectrum. You'll also appreciate the hatchback and folding rear seat for accommodating surprisingly bulky objects. (The clips that hold the rear shoulder belts out of the way of the folding seat back are a nice touch too.)

But should you get one?

If your aim is efficiency, look no further, but understand how it's achieved here with compromised performance and robustness. If you're looking for cheap, you've come to the right place (and you're probably willing to put up with the short-falls). But if you're a nervous driver looking for reassurance from a solid feel, confidence-inspiring acceleration, and surefooted highway manners, keep right on looking.


1998 Pontiac Firefly #1
2 door hatchback
Purchase price, "as-is": $1500 (141,000 kms)
Repairs for certification/e-test: oxygen sensor ($163.29); catalytic converter ($179.40); inspection charges ($104.64)
On-the-road total: $1947.33


More reviews:

- Don't take my word for it: the Toronto Star recently picked the Metro/Firefly/Swift as one of 5 efficient used cars. Read more.
- More info & reviews in on the MetroMPG links page.


Update [Nov 23/05] -

6 months later, I bought the company. No, not quite, but I liked it enough that I have bought another one.

EcoModder fuel economy forum Note: MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to

darin AT metrompg D-O-T com, or here