Buro Driving School: Does driving in eco mode really save fuel?
Just a fuel fun facts
Sustainability is the hot topic of recent years; so is the matter of fuel efficiency and in the world of motoring, it extends to the debate of switching over to hybrid or full electric cars. The middle ground: That nifty eco mode/button. On one hand, there are some simple tips to practise a more fuel-efficient driving lifestyle. On the other, maybe that eco mode/button is the single magic solution we all need to save fuel/money/Earth. And yet, it's easy to doubt it because honestly, can driving in eco mode really make a lot of difference? Ponder no more as we ask an expert—Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, Mark Raine—for the answers.
"Generally, for Mercedes-Benz, we have something called the Dynamic Function where you can choose between several driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The last two are self-explanatory. Comfort is the standard mode and Eco enables the car to adapt its driving settings to the most environmental-friendly.
In Eco mode, it switches gear earlier and thus reducing fuel consumption. In doing so, it's obvious you'll lack performance and sportiness. The answer to the question of whether Eco mode is meant more for driving on highways versus in busy city centres—it depends on how much comfort you want. Mainly because of Start/Stop (which is also available in Comfort mode).
Eco mode is great when you're driving on the highway because the car is mostly cruising. When you're in traffic, you've got longer idle time, less acceleration so the engine switching off (Start/Stop) is handy but the air conditioning is turned down too. Hence why I said it depends on how much comfort you want.
That being said, the biggest fuel saver is by turning off the air conditioning. Just doing so alone can save about 0.1-0.3l of fuel per 100km. We tried it during the Hybrid Endurance Drive. At the beginning, the participants laughed when I suggested it but they actually did it anyway and saw what a big effect it had.
Is Eco mode the answer? Well, I'd say it gives the basis of saving fuel. Realistically, if you always put the pedal to the metal, even turning on Eco mode won't save you any fuel. It's the same with a plug-in hybrid—if you're always thrashing about, you're still going to struggle to save fuel. It's a combination of Eco mode and your driving behaviour or style. You have to adapt your driving style.
My advice is to always look ahead and access the traffic situation. For example, see how much time or distance you have till you reach the traffic light. If it turns orange, you cruise to the traffic light. Accelerate gradually. Don't sprint, then stop, and then go again. Gradual acceleration, that's the key."
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