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.

Speed kills: testing MPH vs. MPG in top gear

Posted Wednesday, August 2/06 in Mods & Tests

Speed vs MPG

The fact that you're reading articles on a fuel economy web site says you're probably already aware that speed kills ... mpg. Resisting the urge to drive fast is one of the easiest and most effective methods for seeing big savings.

We've all seen stats from NRCan and the EPA about how much more fuel is burned as speed rises: Driving at 120 km/h instead of 100 uses about 20% more fuel (NRCan); observing highway speed limits can save 7-23% (EPA).

Those are serious numbers. But reading a stat is one thing - seeing it laid out graphically is a real eye-opener. So I set out to collect some hard evidence for the Blackfly: a graph of speed vs. fuel consumption.

Inspiration & examples ...

The inspiration for this data gathering mini-mission came from seeing a number of graphs for various cars, including this simulated plot for the Prius II. It's an interesting shape that reveals a lot about the car that made it:

Prius II speed vs. mpg

The benefit of electric assist is obvious up to around 42 mph, at which point the engine spins up, mileage abruptly falls off a short cliff, and then continues to decrease more gradually as speed rises. The shape of the graph could also have only come from a car with a continuously variable transmission - other than the transition where the internal combustion engine spins up, there are no obvious "steps" in the plot.

Note: that's a calculated graph, with values based on 68F, at sea level, no A/C or wind.

Next, here's a real-world plot of speed vs. mileage for a 1st generation Prius:

Prius Classic graph

While the cars these 2 graphs are based on do not share identical drivetrains, you can see similarities in the shape of the graph (particularly the dramatic change from assist to engine-on operation).

Non-hybrid examples ...

Here's one from the EPA for an unnamed vehicle (in unknown conditions) which shows a mileage peak around 50 mph - likely where the highest gear is engaged.

EPA graph

Here's another with a bit more information about where it came from - a 1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI (though conditions are unknown):

Golf GTI graph

High speed mpg ...

A more extreme example of this kind of test was published earlier this year by Auto Bild magazine. They ran a number of cars at much higher (autobahn) speeds - between 50 and 140 mph on a test track while recording fuel consumption:

GCC AutoBild graph

The Blackfly graph: MPG vs. MPH ...

The purpose of this mini-experiment was simply to gather fuel consumption readings across a range of speeds to produce a graph. Only top gear was used. And these are the results:

Blackfly graph

Route & weather conditions ...

Conditions as of 3:00 pm EDT / 1900 GMT on 05/03/2006:

Air Temperature (ATMP): 58.8 F / 14.4 C *
Wind Direction (WDIR): NNE ( 30 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 3 kts / 3.5 mph / 5.6 km/h
Wind Gust (GST): 4 kts / 4.6 mph / 7.4 km/h
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.94 in

* (averaged with another land-based station)

1.7 km long runs on the almost level "test course". Each point on the graph is the average of a bi-directional run using cruise control (speed was set in advance of passing a start marker where the ScanGauge was reset).

Raw data ...

km/h ... W ... E - mpg (US) / L/100km / mpg (imp.)

 55 ... 83.1 / 2.8 / 99.8 ... 82.4 / 2.9 / 99.0
60 ... 77.8 / 3.0 / 93.4 ... 76.3 / 3.1 / 91.6
65 ... 74.1 / 3.2 / 89.0 ... 71.7 / 3.3 / 86.1
70 ... 71.2 / 3.3 / 85.5 ... 70.8 / 3.3 / 85.0
75 ... 67.2 / 3.5 / 80.7 ... 62.7 / 3.8 / 75.3
80 ... 63.3 / 3.7 / 76.0 ... 59.3 / 4.0 / 71.2
85 ... 59.4 / 4.0 / 71.3 ... 56.4 / 4.2 / 67.7
90 ... 55.4 / 4.3 / 66.5 ... 53.9 / 4.4 / 64.7
95 ... 51.5 / 4.6 / 61.9 ... 50.3 / 4.9 / 60.4
100 ... 46.6 / 5.1 / 56.0 ... 46.9 / 5.0 / 56.3
105 ... 44.9 / 5.2 / 54.0 ... 44.0 / 5.4 / 52.8

Modifications present at the time of this test included: grille block, rear wheel skirts, smooth wheel covers, tires @ 48 PSI.

Observations ...

  • The first thing this graph confirmed to me is that it's much more difficult to exceed the Firefly's EPA highway fuel economy rating in highway driving than any other car I've driven. Which is to say: the speed at which it achieves its rating - 97 km/h (60.3 mph) - is significantly slower than other cars.

    I used to be able to set the cruise control in my 1989 Honda Accord at 95 km/h (59 mph) and exceed the car's highway EPA rating by about 20%.

    On the same day I ran the Firefly test, I took a relative's 1997 Toyota Camry automatic down the same test road; it achieved its 30 mpg EPA highway rating at 115 km/h (71.5 mph). Quite a difference.

  • The even more optimistic NRCan highway rating of 66 mpg(imp.) / 55 mpg(US) is achieved at even lower speeds - about 89 km/h.
  • The slope of the line sometimes surprises people - but it's important to note the Blackfly test is in top gear like the Auto Bild experiments, not through all the gears like the EPA and GTI graphs show.

Finally, what's the message these charts all send? For the best fuel economy, drive as slow as practical in the tallest gear.

Resources ...

Related ...

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