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Diesel drives: Chasing numbers in the ASEAN region

POSTED BY Vishal Bhaskaran ON 05 May 2015

Another day, another long distance diesel drive.

Isuzu recently joined this year’s list of carmakers making long trips in our neck of the woods with diesel vehicles when four units of the D-Max pickup made it from Bangkok to Singapore — a journey of 1,809km — on less than 76 litres of diesel, in other words using only one tank of fuel.

While the official release makes no mention of the standard metric of km/litre for us to make a comparison, it is safe to assume that based on the two figures the D-maxes (D-maxi?) did better than 23.8km/L; an astounding feat for a nearly two-tonne vehicle given that the Perodua Axia’s claim to fame is 21.6km/L, that too with a manual transmission.

Dura-Miles challenge rear

23.8km/L in the six-time consecutive winner of Asean Auto’s pickup truck Fuel Efficiency Award

The Isuzu trip — officially called the Dura-Miles challenge — utilised their entire D-Max range, a pair each of the 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre models with a manual and automatic transmission although the significance of this difference diminishes once the test route is as monotonous as an interstate highway drive.

Two other diesel drives this year that garnered a significant amount of attention were the KL to Bangkok Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec Hybrid drive and the Bangkok to Changlun Mazda 2 diesel drive.

The best performing car out from the convoy of the former achieved 23.3km/L while a member of our editorial team achieved an mind-boggling 30.86km/L in the Mazda drive.

Mercedes-Benz E300 hybrid drive

Gone are the days when efficiency challenges had a long list of unrealistic parameters — air-conditioning not being used and tyre pressure set to a highly specific PSI among others — that rendered the numbers achieved of no relevance to the average road user.

Instead, manufacturers now go all out to prove that you can achieve these stratospheric km/L figures while enjoying all the comforts that their vehicles have to offer.

Mazda went so far as to cover the A/C controls in the Mazda 2 diesel drives with clear plastic covers so that it couldn’t be tampered with or switched off, the vehicles additionally had to pass through checkpoints within a given time frame so a driver couldn’t cheat by simply driving slowly.

Mazda2 Diesel bangkok-12

Here’s hoping that there are many more of these challenges to come, efficiency competitions can only lead to more frugal products for the Malaysian driver to choose from especially since Euro 5 diesel is on the horizon.

On a more sinister note however, there has been very little mention in our region with regards to the lesser known harmful emissions of compression ignition vehicles.

While diesel engines may produce less carbon than similar petrol engines, they are the largest emitters of nitrogen dioxide in the UK which is linked to 7,000 deaths there per year.