Green means mean

I’m not one of the good guys, it would seem. I’m one of those people that is responsible for sucking dry the world’s resources, and any decent person would do everything they could to be green. Well that’s what it feels like anyway.

I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last month rolling around in a mid-sized SUV – Audi’s fine Q5 as it happens, especially in 3.0-litre TDI form – which an unkind person might describe as an ‘excessive’ piece of automotive machinery. Sure, it’s quite big and relatively tall, even though in reality it’s shorter than a Mondeo and seats five, rather than seven. But it’s not just the size that gets to people, it’s the presence and the style.

The general grumbling of the silent green masses says that I should trade in this leviathan for something greener, something that trips softly along without even causing the flowers by the side of the road to tremble in its wake. Except that is complete hogwash.

Sure, if I had one of the latest generation of eco-hatches, I’d have the potential to clock up over 70 miles per gallon, which by anyone’s measurement is pretty impressive. No argument there. Except to do so requires you to drive in a committed fashion to get the best out of it. How many of those driving around with an ‘eco’ badge on their car and a halo to match drive in the manner required to extract maximum economy, I wonder?

I ask the question because thanks to a rather expensive weekend fuel-wise (an 800-mile round trip no less) I’m rapidly running out of the folding stuff required to keep the Q5 topped up. So this week I’ve been doing my damndest to get every last mile out of each litre of fuel.

Helpfully my commute to the office is about 35 miles of motorway neatly bookended by a little urban crawl, and long straights make it easier to bump up the mpg. It’s not come without personal sacrifice either: despite the outside temperature regularly being above 20 degrees, the A/C button has stayed resolutely in the off position. Just the blower doing what it can to prevent me sticking to the seat.

And the results have been rather pleasing. Against an official combined figure of 37mpg and an extra urban figure of 42mpg, yesterday’s to and from work resulted in a spectacular 49.5mpg. Admittedly it meant dicing it out with the lorries in lane one, and each overtake being carefully planned and executed with the briefest dab of accelerator possible. But the resulting journeys times were hardly disappointing, being around 5-10 minutes longer than with a more firmly exercised right pedal.

And this is the rub: just buying an economy special with high mpg and tax-beating emissions is the easy bit. If you really want to be green, you need to drive like you mean it. That goes for whatever car you own too. There’s no need to be sheepish if you own a Tarmac-shredding super saloon, because that can be capable of similar impressive feats. A recent self-imposed test in a Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet around a tricky urban route still saw a healthy 29mpg racked up on the trip computer. Good driving, whether it’s fast or green, starts with the driver, not the car.

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