Suzuki Grand Vitara: fuel consumption

Getting maximum range out of tank

With diesel prices having marched up to £1.20p per litre and showing no signs of coming down, I am always looking at ways of trying to improve fuel consumption.

The Vitara's claimed average miles per gallon is a very respectful 40mpg but this official figure is achieved in laboratory conditions. That's fine when comparing cars to see how they perform for fuel efficiency but misleading as to what you can actually achieve in real world driving conditions.

So, in theory, with a claimed average of 40mpg the Suzuki Grand Vitara is capable of 581.6 miles from a full tank. However, I don't drive on a rolling road in carefully controlled conditions but in traffic jams, winding country roads and sometimes, if lucky, straight open roads when I cruise at a steady speed.

At worst with a lot of commuting, high-speed dashs on motorways and speeding time in traffic jams, and with the roof bars fitted I manage 385 miles for 55 litres of fuel. That's an average of 31.8mpg - not so hot. However, roof bars off and with the majority of miles covered on dual carriageways and motorways at a steady 60-70mph, the best I've got is 440 miles on 56 litres of fuel - that's 35.7mpg.

The thing is that this more relaxed approach to cruising suits the Grand Vitara well especially as the Suzuki feels like it needs a sixth gear as the engine starts to feel like it's being thrashed and trying to listen to music means seriously turning up the volume.

The other upside is the diesel engine has great pulling power so there is no need to race through the revs to get it going. Much better to short shift and use the pulling power to get going. Though to put things in perspective the 2.4 VVT petrol version with the manual gearbox has a claimed average of 31.4mpg - throw in real world conditions and you're looking at mid 20s. Not hard to see why the diesel version is the more popular.

Current mileage: 8975

Average mpg: 34.2