Friday, July 12, 2013

The Amazing (Fuel-Sipping) Race: Putting the Peugeot 3008 Through its Paces

Photos by Eurobrands Distributor, Inc. Press
Fuel economy runs have become fairly common for us in the motoring beat. Name every conceivable iteration from city to long-distance, track to off-road; I’ve done it most likely. But that doesn’t stop car manufacturers from using fuel-economy runs to measure the merit of their cars, especially if it’s boasting great levels of frugality. Peugeot, with the 3008, is the latest one to join the fray with an Alabang-Batangas City and back fuel economy fun run.

Eurobrands Distributor, Inc., (EDI) the country’s exclusive distributor of Peugeot invited some 20 media participants to drive identical 3008 1.6 e-HDi crossovers on a 158-kilometer drive in normal driving conditions (proper highway speeds, climate control set to 21-degrees Celsius, etcetera). Once again, I found myself partnered with fellow STAR writer Angel Rivero and EDI’s Robert Urbano completing our team as official marshal/observer. Drawing Car No. 6, we thought being in the middle of the ten car train would be a problem, but thankfully a two and a half minute interval was allowed between flag-offs. Before we stepped into our 3008, it was decided that I’ll do the driving simply because: “gentlemen don’t let ladies drive” (a decision that proved to be a mistake later on).

Being a “Peugeot virgin”, it took me a while to get settled into the 3008, but once I found my preferred seating position and got comfortable, we drove to the TOTAL gas station in Alabang for a top-up in preparation for the run. Though we were eager to tackle this challenge, we figured we’ll take “fuel eco” and “fun run” in equal measure meaning we’ll drive as frugality as possible without sacrificing our sanity.

With an automated manual transmission (as opposed to a traditional automatic or even a dual-clutch transmission), it was easy to coax the 3008 to reach the next higher gear quickly. Keeping a light and steady pressure on the accelerator, it made its way to fifth gear with speeds approaching 65 km/h. I manually flicked the paddle shifter to sixth, bringing the 3008’s rev counter to almost 1,100 rpm as the speeds built up to 70, 75, and even 80 km/h. I kept this style of driving constant as the SLEX ended and the STAR Tollway began.

As far as I could tell, Angel and I didn’t take this fuel economy run deadly seriously. We chatted, laughed, gossiped, and even told her to nap while other teams had their game face on. And still, by the end of the route, we managed some 25.3 km/L—truly an amazing feat. Plus, we actually found the time to discuss, debate, and execute a driver change for the drive back to Manila.

And with that, it was Angel’s turn behind the wheel.

Helping save the planet has always been a cause close to my heart, and hence I have always found relative ‘earth friendliness’ to be a fascinating aspect of every new vehicle in the market. To other less green-oriented individuals, this may simply translate as reduced cost, in the form of fuel savings. Whichever way you look at it, there is good value in choosing to make amends with Mother Nature.

Now, the Peugeot 3008 is quite an interesting fellow—it’is a vehicle that marries the agreeable characteristics of an SUV, MPV, and hatchback into one avant garde crossover that puts a huge premium on earth-friendliness. After all, it exploits a 1.6L High-Pressure Direct-Injection (HDi) engine fitted with a technologically advanced diesel particulate filter that practically incinerates all the particles that get trapped in the exhaust system (and thereby prevents them from becoming airborne pollutants). Furthermore, the 3008’s materials are up to 90 percent recyclable – making it truly one of the green-streaked vehicles out in the market today.

It was then only but natural for Peugeot to showcase their 3008’s fuel efficiency by conducting the Eco Fun Run that Uly and I participated in. Like my partner described, we did not go to any extreme lengths to register laudable fuel consumption figures, and yet those were still exactly what we got. With a little female light-footed touch, (yes, I drove the latter half of the way), and despite occasionally getting stuck behind slow trucks carrying pigs on the narrow part of the highway, our team registered an impressive 27.7km’s per liter of fuel from Batangas’ Star Tollway to Acacia Hotel in Alabang, and continued on to become the winners of the Best Fuel Mileage title for that particular segment of the drive. Uly and I also discussed that our northbound  segment reflected a good improvement from our initial southbound segment rating, maybe also partly because of the fact that the 3008 actually ‘learns’ from your driving technique, and eventually adapts to complement your own (eco) driving style.

The overall Eco Run winners though, were Brian Afuang of Manila Times and Jenny Bleza of Sunshine TV who averaged an amazing 26.9 kms per liter of fuel in the entire Alabang-Batangas-Alabang drive. The 2nd and 3rd placers registered 26.3km/L and 25.7km/L respectively—still within very close range of the winning figure.

“We have always been confident about our vehicles and their fuel-saving capabilities,” pointed out EDI Marketing and Communications Director, Dong Magsajo. “The Peugeot 3008, in particular, has given us good mileage numbers since we brought the units in. Even heavy-footed drivers can drive up to 14 km/L in mixed city and highway driving while using the 3008—on diesel fuel at that,” he proudly explained.

The Peugeot Fuel Economy Fun Run was indeed an enjoyable way to benchmark the 3008’s fuel frugality in real driving conditions, and was made possible through the support of Total Philippines, the Manila Toll Expressway Systems Inc., Sofitel, and Acacia Hotel. - co-written with Angel Rivero.

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