"There are countless lies surrounding the real-world capabilities of diesel, petrol and electric cars"

Mike Rutherford calls for the UK to set up its own independent testing agency to give consumers real-world mpg and emissions figures

Opinion: real world mpg testing

I always have, and probably always will, like Volkswagens. As a 17-year-old, my first car was an air-cooled Beetle. Over the past three decades I’ve driven over 100 VW-badged production cars and prototypes. Today, my modest car collection includes three VWs – one new, one old, one ancient. 

Despite my fondness for the brand, in Auto Express magazine in March 2014 I warned of serious problems with the MPG/emissions/range claims of some Volkswagen vehicles – particularly diesels. I reported that on a gentle, traffic-free, daytime run to Geneva in perfect conditions and in one hit (i.e. no cold engine drawbacks), the Golf 1.6 I was driving drank 30 per cent more derv than it should have, according to official figures. 

For obvious reasons I blamed the manufacturer. But I also pointed the finger of accusation at lazy legislators. It’s these couldn’t-give-a-toss politicians and idle prosecutors who’ve turned a blind eye and enabled Volkswagen, plus other manufacturers, to short-change consumers. 

• VW emissions scandal: latest news on the 'dieselgate' recalls

With this in mind, my question was: “Shouldn’t there be a law against this sort of thing?” After all, fictitious fuel consumption figures inevitably result in greater-than-predicted expenditure on fuel, higher-than-promised levels of emissions and lower-than-claimed driving distances per tank of diesel... or petrol. 

What we’re talking about here is not just a VW problem. It is, on a global scale, an industry problem. There are countless fiddles and lies surrounding the real-world capabilities of diesel, petrol and 100 per cent-electric cars... plus taxis, vans, trucks, coaches, buses, motorcycles.  

Most economical cars

With all this in mind, let’s tear up the current, tired, flawed and discredited ‘system’ of testing vehicle MPG/emissions/range. And let’s replace it with one that allows UK PLC to recruit trained, accredited, wholly independent senior engineers who’d carry out daily spot checks at new car dealerships. They’ll require cop-like powers to temporarily seize new vehicles – which would then be subjected to 60-minute, cold-start, real-world road tests that’d be fiddle-free. Such tests would result in a new breed of no-nonsense official figures. 

Tell us what you think about the system for testing car mpg and emissions in the comments section below...

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020