Frugal and kind to the environment

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

A perk about attending car launches is that you get to drive the latest models before they are released to the public so we can bring to the reader what is hopefully an informed opinion and one which will guide you when deciding on what vehicle to buy.

Whether it be the latest Porsche fitted with a twin turbo engine (which we will be bringing to you later this month) or the tiny Chevrolet Spark with a 0.8 litre engine, we put the vehicle through its paces with equal objectivity.

Part of the test criteria at a launch will often involve driving from Point A to Point B in, for some, the quickest possible time.

Many journalists will explain that this is the only way to find out the true capabilities of the vehicle when it comes to road handling, braking, performance, understeer and so on.

With the launch of the new Toyota Corolla 1.3 (replacing the current 1.4 litre), and the 1.6, things were done differently.

Introducing the new Optimal Drive technology - which is applicable to both models - the emphasis has moved to more economical motoring, less CO2 emissions, yet at the same time improving performance levels.

CO2 emissions basically refer to those nasty little gases that are playing havoc with our environment and it's an area governments around the world are getting tough with.

Already Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is preparing a package of taxes that will see owners purchasing vehicles with high CO2 emissions - generally the bigger a vehicle the higher its emissions - slapped with penalties.

The new Corolla produces less gas than a human after a plate of baked beans and cabbage and sips less petrol than my garden lawn mower.

At the launch we had immense fun driving a 110 kilometre route through the Muldersdrift area as economically as possible.

With a six-speed gearbox on hand, we used all the tricks in the book to keep fuel consumption to a minimum ... air conditioning off, windows shut tight (in 27 degree heat!), coasting in neutral down hills, slip streaming behind vehicles where possible, but above all keeping a constant speed.

The result: a measly 4,45 litres per 100 kilometres of driving. Sure you are not going to drive like that ever again, but the point Toyota was making is smaller can be better and frugal petrol consumption is achievable. Point taken!