Ditch that gas-guzzling Prius.
Gavin Conway, a writer for the UK’s Sunday times, recently set out for a country drive. Quite the drive, in fact: his drive ended up lasting three days, on a three-day trip that took him from Maidstone, Kent, to the south of France, and almost all of the way back, on one tank of diesel.
The car: the BlueMotion edition of the Volkswagen Passat. The car Conway powered was the standard model, a 1.6-liter common rail TDI four-cylinder engine, which holds a 20.4 gallon tank for diesel.
Now Conway can brag that he’s in the Guinness World Book of Records for his 1,526.63 mile drive, apparently now the longest distance ever driven by a production passenger car on one tank of fuel.
Much of the Passat BlueMotion’s fuel efficiency is due to its design. Rocker panel extensions, a deep front air-dam, and alloy wheels all contribute to decelerate fuel consumption, handily reducing CO2 emissions at the same time. A low ride height, specially programmed battery charging system, low rolling resistance tires, and longer gearing all helped a tad with Conway’s record, too.
All told, the Passat BlueMotion achieved a 74.8 miles per gallon ratio for a drive that averaged about 45 miles per hour, and for a journey that is approximately the distance between Los Angeles and Kansas City, Missouri. Followed by a couple patrolmen who Guinness hired to verify the veracity, the car finally ran out of juice near Calais, France, just before Conway was set to return under the English Channel.
With all the hype over hybrids and electric vehicles, outstanding engineering and design can still go a long way to improve automobiles’ fuel efficiency and reduce our dependence on imported foreign fuels. Cars like the Prius and Leaf could and should be part of our transportation mix, but more cars like the Passat BlueMotion, some features of which will be included in other Volkswagen models, prove that a sweet MGP does not mean driving in something with all the charm and safety of a tin can.