VW Passat: Fuel's gold

  • Why is passing the £100 fill-up so painful?
  • Computer reads 44.2mpg, our figures read 40.45mpg
  • Festive frugality yields a 5mpg improvement

The Volkswagen Passat has a big fuel tank and if you run the range down to zero you can expect a £100 a fill-up, which is not a particularly wonderful experience.

It hurts me a lot when I see the pump digits go past the three-digit mark. I remember many moons ago when I was able to fill a car with £15 and although that was when I owned a quite rubbish 1972 Austin Allegro and I was a Quick Noodle-eating student, I still can't quite get it around my head that after a week £100 will disappear, quite literally, into thin air.

I hearten myself though that it could be a lot worse. The Passat is no gas-guzzler, and over the Christmas period I have tried to keep my fuel consumption to an absolute minimum by making sure the stop/start function is kept on all the time and that when I do come to a standstill I leave it to the last second before depressing the clutch to restart the engine before pulling away.

I've also tried to rein in my speed on motorways and have attempted to take a more laconic approach when negotiating London's city streets. Okay, I have received many more beeps from impatient drivers behind me but I'll take that in my stride. If you are in a rush and you are stuck behind a lumbering Passat somewhere near Muswell Hill, I do apologise.

The Passat's onboard computer is rewarding my work, it seems. For most of this long-term test it has been registering around 41mpg average and, admittedly, when others have been driving the Passat it's gone up to 45mpg. I generally hit the 40mpg mark, such is the nature of my motoring, but over the frugal festive period this has peaked to around 45mpg. Indeed, the evidence is clear from the picture above with a 44.2mpg reading. Impressive stuff from a 2.0-litre diesel. Yes, that's way below the 61.4mpg official average, but for the past three months I cannot claim to have been driving with fuel economy at the forefront of my mind.

My own stats tell me I am getting 40.45mpg on average but that figure is taken from a two-month period running from November to the end of December. I did take the trouble to calculate the average fuel consumption from December 1 to January 1 and it worked out at about 40mpg again.

Thus there is a disparity, but that's to be expected. My colleague Gareth Evans is running a Vauxhall Astra and the difference between his calculations and the car's on-board computer is usually around 10mpg. Well, that's what he tells me, but he isn't the sharpest tool in the box.

Still, back to my pain. I am still struggling with the £100 fill-up. I have taken to putting in about £70-worth of fuel in at a time and that gets me to about three-quarters' full. It's a totally illogical thought process, I know. My other colleague Lewis Kingston explained to me that this strategy merely means more visits to the filling station. I know that - we all know that - but to me there is something intrinsically wrong about a petrol pump that passes by the £100 mark.

I'll keep taking the medication.

Current mileage: 17,984 miles

Average mpg: 40.45mpg