Forget Hypermiling But Why - Audi A4 Miles Better Drive

clifford chow
18 Nov 2019
 

So the challenge was posed! Could you take a trip to Genting Highlands and back on a single tank of fuel? That is what we did during the Audi A4 Miles Better Drive!

Too early in the moring for us, but we need to prove a point that it can be done!

Well actually, we quite possibly could with good number of cars. However, the other challenge was for how much fuel in the tank could we save at the same time. (Very mild) Hypermiling if you may!

Our car for this challenge is the 9th generation Audi A4, equipped its two-litre “B-Cycle” engine, noted for its impressive ability to almost live off fuel vapour.

So What Is This “B-Cycle” Tech All About? I Thought The Letter “A” Is Be Better!

The letter “A” has always been synonymous with being the best… from scoring well in a test, being the trophy child of your parents during your primary school days, who go on to show off to their “friends” how good they are versus them (because being in the A Class has more prestige… pfft) to A-1 Fly Lice.

So what about the “B-Cycle” engine? The engine was developed by Ralf Budack, hence the “B”; and operates similar to a Miller cycle engine under normal load, for the purpose of improved fuel economy. Optimisation through higher compression, turbocharging and the Audi Valve-lift System (AVS), helps to deliver fuel efficiency similar to that of a smaller engine.

Under heavier acceleration, the same engine is able to deliver its maximum potential of 190hp. Maximum torque of 320Nm, however is available throughout most of your drive (1,450 - 4,200rpm), meaning that you wouldn’t feel that the A4 is out of puff.

716Km And Brimming Our Tanks

So to make the test a fair one, together with another two teams, we filled our already full tanks to the brim, once across the Second Link. To prevent us from sneaking out at night to squeeze a little fuel in, our tanks were also sealed.

A few pointers before we set off from the fuel stop

From the refueling point, it would be a 400km journey up to Genting Highlands, but not before we stop for some wholesome breakfast at the popular Yuan Yean Fishball Eating House.

Continuing our journey, I did initially tell myself that we should keep this real, and drive the A4 like any other person on the road, since it is a real world challenge… And we did (mostly) by keeping the air-conditioning temperature decent-enough. My driving partner, Justine Moss from CNA938, who subsequently took over the wheel added some real-world driving balance to the way the Audi was driven… Afterall, I did get tempted to draft a few large trucks to reduce wind resistance.

What Is The Opposite Of A One-Trick-Pony?

Traffic flow on the Malaysian highways are generally smoother after rush hour, reducing the need to vary our speed. The A4, equipped with its S Tronic transmission, and in ECO mode, likes changing up early. Having 320Nm readily available means that you can hang on to higher gears more often, cutting down on consumption. In addition to that, lifting off the throttle allows you to coast, while in gear… essentially the transmission safely hops into Neutral, and the engine goes to sleep. For some, this might go against all convention of thought, afterall you are barreling down the road at highway speeds, without drive. However, the system is designed to re-engage, the moment the brakes and throttle are applied, or when you are taking the car around a bend.

Small adjustments to our driving habits come into play, gradually coaxing the car to the desired speed, and knowing when to lift-off the throttle, especially when capitalising on a downward slope, ensures lower consumption. Audi’s Predictive Efficiency Assistance, which recognises route data way in-front helps to alert you of what you can expect up ahead, so that you can make adjustments as you go along. The system can also control the freewheeling of the car, helping to squeeze in a few good meters with less fuel used.

As we plod along on our quest for greener something somethings… yawn… the roads begin to change. Tighter turns and more slopes tell us that we are at the foot of Genting Highlands. And damn, I’m not at the wheel (which is actually a good thing, since I’d be tempted to take advantage of the A4’s well-sorted suspension around the turns uphill)!

After a good night’s sleep, the guys at Audi knew us well enough, that we had to get our need to rev engines out of our systems, and treated us to a day hooning around with some ATVs.

Going Downhill Equals Good Fuel Consumption Figures!

Into a new day and back onto the road, the second half of our challenge awaits us, as we make our way back home. This time round, I was motivated to burn as little as I could, while taking the A4 down the winding road. A quick flick of the right steering-mounted gear pedal lets you manually put the A4 into coast, helping to save those added drops of fuel.

We let gravity do most of the work this round. Shutting off the air-conditioning condenser, while making the best of the cold environment worked well for the first ten-minutes, until the windscreen began fogging up. But hey! We were getting something to the tune of 32.3km/l! We knew that the other two teams were making efforts to cut down on consumption the best they could, and we couldn’t lose!

Once on flat ground, our focus went into attempting to reduce the number of start-stop instances, by doing all we can to keep the car in motion, and gently coaxing the car back to speed after each toll gate, ensured that our fuel economy remained near the mid-twenties (km/l).

With the help of our hosts, we were directed towards a Smart Tunnel near KL, which bypasses their infamous snarling city traffic, and with a clear road in-front of us, we allowed the A4 to coast, with the car very slowly shedding speed as we progressed, while we enjoyed the A4’s comfortable ride quality; much to the annoyance of one of the competing teams, causing them to blare their horn at us. But you see… “less speedo for more eco” was the game to play. *grin*

By now, we were averaging 26.4km/l, and driving mostly at healthy highway speeds; and we still had more than half-a-tank left, as we neared our fuel stop. 

The last of three teams to enter the station, the seal on our fuel tank was finally broken. 

The final tally going to and from Genting Highlands, over a total distance of 716km (including the making of some wrong turns), was an impressive average of 21.8km/l, earning us second place in the challenge. In comparison to the manufacturer’s Combined Cycle stats of 19.2km/l, it is truly notable what some driving adjustments can do for your fuel economy.

But Hypermiling On A Roadtrip Is Silly!

We couldn’t agree more for the average driver. Shutting off the air-conditioning condenser, or even keeping the temperature to what is barely acceptable, reducing your overall comfort is plain lunacy. 

You would rather to enjoy your car, and your surroundings, instead of having your hand on the pedal shifter, just to get the A4 to coast at every given opportunity. That is for crazy people like us!

That said, the Audi A4 truly is a gem of a well-engineered car, especially in the competitive Compact Executive segment it sits in. 

An effective price of $141,795*, inclusive of COE makes the A4 a steal!

*Price accurate as at 18 November 2019


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