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Eco ads in the test: useful fuel-saving helpers?

Arturo Rivas
Eco ads tested
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D he sense of an eco-advertisement is clear: you is intended to encourage economical driving. Put simply, it distinguishes between good and bad gas. Blue bars or green trees therefore praise everyone who reaches their destination with as little fuel consumption as possible. Whereas red lights or even depictions of withered plants in the display blame incorrect behavior. But is it even possible to consistently do justice to the eco display? Can any incline really be mastered in the green area? Or do you become a rolling traffic obstacle that is dragging a caravan of cursing people behind you?

Five models across different drive concepts

This question is addressed by auto motor und sport with five models across different drive concepts after. We have selected BMW i8, Lexus IS 300h and Opel Adam 1.0, all with an eco display, plus the Kia Soul EV as a purely electric car and the Audi A6 2.0 TDI with only conventional consumption display. The latter, however, is designed very boldly by means of a more or less strongly deflected bar.

BMW, Lexus and Opel have to go on two consumption trips one after the other. On the first lap, the drivers slavishly check their right foot according to the specifications of the eco display. On the comparison tour, the specified rules for determining the minimum consumption of automobiles and sport apply: you must strictly adhere to a speed of 100 on the country road and 130 km /h on the autobahn, as well as decent acceleration, anticipatory driving style, swimming in traffic. The Audi A6 also completes this ams lap. It has a bar graph. It presents current and average consumption. If you try to undercut your own average, that's the goal of the second round.

Arturo Rivas
From the futuristic hybrid sports car to an electric cross-over to the hip lifestyle car. The will to save fuel through eco and consumption displays unites them on our test round.

Kia Soul EV becomes a traffic obstacle in eco mode

The Kia Soul EV as an electric vehicle, on the other hand, is supposed to have twice the so-called electric circuit of auto motor und sport buzzes - once according to the specifications of the electric circuit, the other time under the specifications of the eco display. The latter, however, remains wishful thinking: The Soul EV does not even manage the permitted 80 km /h in eco mode and has to break off the second lap as a traffic obstacle.

Normally, eco displays work on the simple good-bad principle : Anyone who leaves the pointer in the eco area, which is often shown in blue, and uses as little as possible - blue seems to have established itself as the color of the automotive eco-movement. How to stay in the blue? By hardly putting any pressure on the accelerator. Because little load means not only little propulsion, but also little consumption.

The Eco-Display is nothing more than a kind of consumption indicator. But how is current consumption actually determined? For internal combustion engines, for example, from the number of injection cycles, the fuel pressure and temperature. From this, the control unit calculates the consumption in liters per hour. Using the current speed as a comparison results in a consumption in liters per 100 km.

Arturo Rivas
The eco mode in the Kia Soul EV degrades the electric car to a city car . More than 74 km /h are then no longer possible.

No propulsion, no consumption

Depending on your personal philosophy, the manufacturers rigidly restrict the ability to accelerate.The extremely reduced propulsion alone, of course, reduces average consumption. Hardly any acceleration, hardly any consumption. This applies to all combustion engines. The price: You are practically at crawl speed - significantly slower than on the consumption lap of auto motor und sport.

Or to put it another way: If all drivers were to stick to their Eco ad, then traffic threatens to collapse . After all, Sunday drivers and scared sneakers are already causing long traffic jams. Rigid and therefore unworldly eco-ads are nothing more than a fig leaf, because no sensible person will keep to them all the time. But crossing them creates frustration for those who want to save.

The design of the eco display is crucial

Even without a real eco display, the Audi can still be quite normal even while trying to save move and is, with an average consumption of five liters per 100 kilometers, almost exemplary. Kia degrades the Soul EV to a city car in eco mode, BMW and Lexus turn their vehicles, which are actually fast, into traffic obstacles (you can find descriptions of the test drives in the sub-articles for each model). With it you can save money and at the same time roll along in traffic. It is similar to the start-stop systems: The smooth ones are actually used, all others are usually switched off. Therefore our appeal to the manufacturers: Design your savings aids in such a way that they can actually be used in everyday traffic. Read more about the eco-displays of the tested vehicles in the sub-articles of this article.

The discrepancy between expectations and experiences could hardly be greater than with the i8. The onlookers are looking forward to the upcoming traffic light start - but the hybrid sports car is moving slowly. The eco display only allows the right foot to be put on discreetly and immediately reprimands any forward drive.

Any starting up on the mountain should be delayed until nobody can hit the traffic obstacle in the form of a sports car from behind. Otherwise there is a risk of angry horns even from Sunday drivers. You can work up a sweat on the highway uphill when the truck runs into it - or is that due to the limited air conditioning in Eco mode? Only a few customers are likely to buy this sports car and then move it at what feels like a recumbent bike. This interpretation of the eco mode is unrealistic.

The traffic light changes to green, so let's go. The bar on the consumption display shoots up to over 20 liters /100 km. That can be cheerful. But not so wild: once the A6 has made it to around 40 km /h, the current consumption drops drastically. Then you can also tackle the goal: your own average consumptionundercut. The display shows this as a guideline.

At a typical big city speed of 50 km /h, the undertaking works very well, but every start-up increases consumption dramatically. Perhaps the traffic planners of cities like Stuttgart should rethink that: Their politically motivated traffic light braking causes CO2 consumption to skyrocket. If, on the other hand, the A6 2.0 TDI catches a green wave, it can get by with surprisingly little diesel even in the city. The Audi doesn't actually have an eco display - but the replacement works very well.

With a three-cylinder small car like the Adam , the reservations about an eco mode are initially particularly high. But at least 115 hp are available in this Opel - and they are anything but bad. At first you hardly trust the bar display between the speedometer and tachometer, you can accelerate that much. Much more than the eco-driving style would suggest.

In other words, there is practically no difference to comfortable driving. And so you can move quickly at the traffic lights, do not get stuck on the mountain and do not become a hooted obstacle even on the motorway. The only thing that needs getting used to is the dosage of the power: As soon as the boost pressure of the turbo increases, the evil area threatens. It is therefore best to stick to the gearshift recommendation and change to the next higher gear at just over 2000 rpm. That's exactly how it has to be.

The Kia Soul EV expresses its driver's savings successes in a very striking way: If a tree in the eco-display of the electric car is in fresh green, the highest eco-level has been reached. More important here, however, is the eco display in the main instrument: Green (the area is called Eco-Guide) means good. White, on the other hand, is overwritten with Power and should therefore be avoided. If you want to use the actual fun potential, i.e. the high starting torque, you drive glowing white and sucks the battery empty.

If you stick to the eco display, the propulsion is only enough for the city. The theoretically possible 145 turns into a practical 74 km /h. The testers from auto motor und sport had to abort the originally planned trip according to the specifications of the eco display on an incline on the federal road - the Soul EV was already pulling a caravan behind it while it continued to slow down. Economy shouldn't go that far.

In the Lexus IS300h, instead of a rev counter, there is an eco display to the left of the speedometer - always. The hybrid model can also show the flow of energy in the center display if required. But when it comes to allocating the energy, it is stingy - at least as long as you want to please the eco display. Even at traffic lights on the flat, you get the impression that you have to accelerate a lot of weight; the mid-range car only slowly settles inMovement.

It drags itself up mountains - even more slowly than the BMW. You can only get up to speed on the straight and with a lot of acceleration. You should drive with foresight and take plenty of time. Those who drive behind also have to be patient. Saving means doing without - significant propulsion. After all, the blue area covers a relatively large speed range and can theoretically also be used on the motorway.

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