SUVs remain attractive for drivers despite higher fuel consumption

SUVs have been selling extremely well for several years. Every third new registration in Germany is now a Sports Utility Vehicle. But hardly any other type of vehicle polarizes as much as the supposed off-roaders. Great overview, lots of space and very practical, say the supporters. And they increasingly prefer the high-wheeled models to the vans, which were still popular a moment ago. Too big, too heavy and above all an eager drinker, many opponents argue. They would like to ban the lifestyle companions from our cities.

But what is right? Does the SUV really give you more car for your money? Or are they real resource wasters? JATO Dynamics wanted to know exactly, so it compared the fuel consumption of three models from different segments with their limousine counterparts. The cars from each manufacturer are on the same platform and have roughly the same dimensions. All diesel and petrol versions as well as all versions with two and four-wheel drive were included in the comparison.

All SUVs are heavier than their passenger car counterparts

JATO compared: VW Golf vs. VW T-Roc, Skoda Superb vs. Skoda Kodiaq and Mazda2 vs. Mazda CX-3. The VW and Skoda were compared as gasoline and diesel versions, the Mazda2 is only offered as a gasoline version in this country. Engine performance, cubic capacity and vehicle weight as well as all available wheel sizes and fuel consumption were analysed. Firstly, the VW T-Roc is almost 30 (diesel) or 60 kg heavier than the Golf, and the displacement and engine performance are almost the same for diesel and petrol models. The wheels of the T-Roc are slightly larger. Its consumption per 100 kilometres is 0.3 (petrol) or 0.6 litres (diesel) higher than the Golf, due in part to the bodywork, which provides greater air resistance and has more underbody clearance. And the minimally larger wheels and the slightly higher weight certainly also contribute to this.

The Kodiaq diesel is 8.6 percent heavier than its corporate brother Superb and the wheels are larger on average. Displacement and performance are almost identical. The differences in vehicle weight (+ 5.3 percent) and wheel size (+ 0.9 inches) are somewhat smaller for the Kodiaq with petrol engine. Its engine even has 20 hp less than the Superb, although it has more displacement. The additional fuel consumption of the two Kodiaq models of 0.9 (diesel) and 0.5 litres (petrol) per 100 kilometres results from similar reasons as for the VW T-Roc.

Most significant additional consumption is seen in the smallest vehicles in the comparison. The Mazda CX-3 has an additional weight of a good 200 kg (18.3 percent), 1.8-inch larger wheels and 49 hp more power in combination with 33 percent more displacement. All in all, this is noticeable in the fuel consumption. At 7.2 litres, it is almost a third higher than that of the Mazda2. Certainly a significant difference to the disadvantage of the more expensive CX-3.

Higher consumption for higher power

The reproach of the critics SUVs would consume more fuel than models of comparable size from other segments, cannot be refuted with this comparison. However, the additional fuel consumption of SUVs is compensated by a higher utility value.

As a rule, the tyres (width, tread depth) are responsible for the rolling resistance and thus for the additional consumption. For reasons of simplification, however, the rim size was evaluated for the analysis, since tire and rim size are usually related.

More about JATO and the products can be found here.

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