Do you think small cars are fuel-efficient? Here is what you need to know


In a developing country like Pakistan, fuel efficiency is the main concern of the people when they are buying an automobile. Just as the population is increasing day by day, so are the cities and the distances are expanding. Hence, most of us want to have an automobile which gives the best mileage either its in CNG or Petrol. For this reason, you must have noticed a lot of smaller cars hitting the road, the reason being that they have a smaller engine and just is cost effective.  But then the question arises that is engine the only option, or you can say they are efficient for smaller displacement for fuel efficiency?

Even though the world is progressing day by day, still there are some perceptions which have been developed in the mind of people regarding the automobiles, their parts, displacements, engine, etc. But, since its an era of technology hence these perceptions have to be corrected with the help of technology which is available. Because, even though the technology is there, due to these perceptions people believe that cars that are 1300 cc or have bigger engine consume more fuel as compared to the cars below 1000cc. In the wake of technology, this perception is not completely true. Apart from the displacement of the engine, the fuel consumption and efficiency mainly depends on the power to weight ratio of a vehicle.

The displacement of the engine is calculated in the cubic centimeters, and it is actually the total volume of the air which is displaced by the pistons in the cylinders of the engine. Horsepower or torque is the unit in which the output of the engine is measured. Horsepower indicated that how much sustained work a car can do while pulling power of the engine is indicated by the torque. For easy understanding, think of displacement of the engine as a drink bottle, the bigger the bottle, the more fluid can be added in it and thus more you are able to drink. And in case of the output of the engine take it as a calorie (energy) in the bottle of drink. This example would surely help you in having a better understanding between the relation of the horsepower/torque and the displacement of the engine.

People argue that smaller engines are fuel efficient, that may be true in one circumstance but if we compare the smaller car with the bigger ones, its not the whole truth, in fact, if we take an example of smaller car lets say 660 cc and there are five passengers in it, then it’ll require more power as compared to the bigger cars since the vehicle is loaded and hence more fuel and power would be needed when it’s accelerating at high speed or climbing uphill. And if there would have been a 1300 car in a similar case, then it would require less power as compared to the 660 cc car. Also, the forced power and acceleration in smaller cars would lead to the early wear and tear of the vehicle as compared to the bigger cars.

For this purpose, a study was done in the UK last year; drivers believed that smaller engine was more efficient. However, the Emission Analysts found out that it’s the opposite and that consume more fuel because they have to do extra work, and even they have to accelerate harder; hence more power is used. For this purpose 500 vehicles were tested for three hours on the roads of Britain, half of the vehicles were on diesel, and the other half were on petrol. The results indicated that the cars traveled 18% fewer miles as compared to the actual assumptions made by the manufacturers.

It is worthy of mentioning that these days the technology is more sophisticated and modern day engines are much more efficient on the consumption of the fuel as compared to the smaller engines which were used decades ago. Considering the power to weight ratio, manufacturers do deploy a certain engine in the cars- Still, people believe that 1300 engine isn’t fuel efficient and that they are better off with the 1000 cc car for its better fuel consumption. However, this concept is incorrect. Let us take an example of Suzuki Swift; it offers the 1.3-liter engine as compare to the 1-liter engine because it can carry its weight and perform its tasks efficiently and easily while having 1.3-liter engine instead of a 1-liter engine. However, this speculation again does not lead to the conclusion that more significant engines are always fuel efficient. For example, in the case of Swift, an engine with 1.6-liter capacity would be requiring more fuel because the power which it’ll produce will be much more than the standard size.  Likewise, in case of the Toyota Belta, it offers 1000cc engine which is slow and sluggish even in the market as compared to the 1300 cc engine version which has the slightly better power to weight ratio.

Considering the above points and discussion, a certain question must have popped up in your mind by now which is since the power to weight ratio is important than why the car manufacturer doesn’t give us the best engines having the best power to weight ratio. If we talk about Toyota Corolla in our market, then it offers three types of different engines which are 1.3 liters, 1.6 liters, and 1.8 liters. The answer to the above question is that apart from the engine, the car manufactures offers other wide variety of factors which offer different configuration and trims since a single car caters different customers and each of them has a different preference, some of them prefers economy other prefer performance. The tax of the automobiles are based on the engine displacement of the automobiles; therefore, in a developing country like Pakistan, smaller engine displacement is preferred mainly due to taxation.

If we want to calculate the power to weight ratio of the vehicle, we need to divide the horsepower of the car by the curb weight of the vehicle. If the number is higher than your car is having excellent performance. Apart from the power to weight, there are other important factors too which are important in determining the efficiency of a vehicle, which includes how you drive your car, tire pressure, quality of the fuel used and vehicle maintenance, etc. and due to this very reason, consumption of fuel cannot be the only reason proportional to the engine size in the real world.

Even though we have little options in our market regarding our automobile but still its always good to buy the vehicle of your choice that fits your criteria instead of buying what everyone else is buying. For people blindly believe that 1000cc car is more fuel efficient as compared to the 1300 cc car and that in case of 1500cc every 1300cc sedan has better fuel efficiency. This though isn’t correct considering the technology of the current era. The reason for this misconception is that here the manufacturer does not provide the basic information of power to weight of the car, curb weight, etc. at least these specifications are not available on their spec sheets and websites. Hence, instead of solely focusing on the engine for better fuel efficiency, or the smaller displacement, rather than this look for other factors too like torque/horsepower or weight as well. So if you are buying a car, do keep in mind that bigger engines are a better option for that yield better results as compare to the smaller engines when the vehicle is working under stress.

Folks, that’s all from our side regarding this article. Do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


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