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Motoring: Economical offerings

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | March 4th, 2013



Let's face it, it's never fun to make repeated trips to the gas station, especially when it's really cold outside.

What would help is to have fuelefficient cars, which will not only reduce the number of times you'll visit your local gas bar, they will also be kinder to your bank account.

I recently tested two vehicles that managed to average less than 7 litres/100km, and they are as follows:

Mazda2
This vehicle has been in the market for a few years already but it is still not a common sight. The problem the Mazda2 has is that it is priced too close to the bigger Mazda3, and most people who go shopping for the 2 end up buying the 3.

That is not a problem for Mazda dealers, because they are happy as long as the customer buys one of their cars. However, I think people are missing out. The Mazda2 might be small and it might only have a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces just 100hp and 98lb/ft of torque, but the way this car translates its power on the road is quite amazing.

Everyone who was in my tester commented how quick this little car is, and on any road, city or highway, it never felt underpowered. It is also fun to drive. The chassis is just excellent, and so the ride quality and handling is better than any sub-compact in the market.

I also love its five-speed manual gearbox. It shifts smoothly and is a truly satisfying gearbox to use. A four-speed automatic is also offered.

The Mazda2 might be getting on in years, but it is still a wonderful car. With prices starting at just $14,450, it is not expensive to buy, and with my week's worth of driving averaging just 6.6 litres/100km, it certainly is not expensive to run.

Acura ILX Hybrid
Want a larger vehicle that is even more economical? You'll need to spend a bit more money, but the solution can be found in the Acura ILX Hybrid.

The ILX, which replaced the aging CSX model in Acura's lineup, has become an instant hit. Not only is it an attractive four-door sedan, it is also well equipped, and many modern conveniences (like navigation, back-up camera and a clever infotainment system) can be found in it.

There are three engines on offer, from mild to sporty, but the one I want to concentrate on today is the fuel-sipping hybrid version.

The ILX Hybrid has a 1.5-litre, i-VTEC, four-cylinder motor that produces 111hp and 127lb/ft of torque. Power is fed to the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted pedal shifters.

On paper, this vehicle would appear to be deathly slow, but in reality, it is quite different. I was amazed at how quick this vehicle is and how fun it is to drive. However, having fun would hurt the fuel economy, so for the most part, I would switch on its “ECON” setting and just cruise around. This allows its gas and electric motors to work seamlessly with each other and the end result is truly fantastic economy numbers. Even in frigid cold weather, the ILX Hybrid averaged just 6.2 litres/100km. For a real-world figure, that is pretty awesome.

Prices for the ILX Hybrid start at $34,990.
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