Audi Fuel Efficiency Challenge - TG Singapore does Hatyai
Hat Yai, Thailand - Damn! There’s not a part of me that is not aching! I’ve just gotten myself into a room for a massage, and am waiting for whatever comes next. We had arrived in Thailand’s Southern-most city, Hat Yai, just the day before. About the previous sentence… get your heads out of the gutter.
But allow us to backtrack a little here. So, it was the day before, when we set-off from Singapore at around 5am, while most of the world was asleep. This would be the beginning of the Audi Fuel Efficiency Challenge we signed up for.
We met the rest of the group who were doing the same, at the Jalan Ahmad Abrahim Shell station along the AYE. Our car for the day, to take us close to 900km, into Hatyai, would be the Audi Q3 1.5 (stay tuned for the review).
Allow me to give a brief introduction to what goes on under that sheet metal. The 1.5 litre engine is the same four-cylinder unit found in the A3, when it was first launched here; meaning you get that familiar 150hp and 250Nm, cylinder deactivation and MHEV assistance. It also uses the same 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, along with similar coasting capabilities and engine “sleep” tech… ideal fuel-saving bits which will come into play.
We were up against three other vehicles, the Sportback version of the Q3, and a pair of 1.0 litre A3 cars - a Sedan and a Sportback. Together with this selection of cars, driving skill-sets came mixed. The more seasoned journalists mostly found themselves paired with newer blood. So with all things balanced… sort-of, we set off on one of our longest drives, in the quest to “get there” with the least amount of fuel consumed.
So there were a few things I was insistent on. I forgot to mention that Luke, my driving partner from our sister publication, CarBuyer Singapore, and I had a slight weight problem. Khai, our shared videographer (who had the whole back seat to herself), was with us, and that would mean that our fuel numbers would definitely suffer. So with that, we got our tyres filled-up to compensate for the extra KayGees, and I pulled out a reel of masking tape, and began to tape over the front panel gaps (with the weak theory that taping them would reduce some of that wind turbulence).
First at the wheel, I immediately took advantage of the remaining down-sloping bits of the AYE flyovers, lifting off the throttle in-order to get the engine to “sleep”. Traffic at the immigration on both Singapore and Malaysian sides were sparse, and we were the first of the four cars to cross over into Malaysia. With smooth traffic, we eased the Q3 into highway speeds, and cut power where we could.
We planned for the fewest pauses, so by the time we reached Yong Peng, we turned off for a quick breakfast stop. Two filling slices of Roti Canai, and a cup of Teh Tarik later, we were back on the road, playing catch-up.
We had to find that sweet spot between snagging some good fuel numbers and getting to the Thai border before sundown. But just as I did, I felt the onset of microsleep kick-in. We made it as far past Malacca, before surrendering driver responsibilities to Luke. By now Khai was soundly asleep, and we were into late 18 to early 19km/l territory.
I open my eyes, and the first thing I check is the “fuel econ-o-meter”, and we are still in our late teens-per-kilometres-per-litre, and the added ballast is doing us no favours (no, we can’t leave her behind!). I got back behind the wheel, before Ipoh, and Luke got himself some well-rewarded rest.
What lay ahead, was easily the best driving stretch of road on the entire trip.
Once out of the Menora tunnel near Ipoh city, it was all downhill here. The Q3 felt surprisingly nimble, as we took the car around the meandering highland road - foot off the accelerator, the engine asleep, no brakes, mint candy in mouth and full-on concentration.
We hit the magic 20km/l mark here, the speed needle kept climbing as the Q3 made excellent progress… My goal was 22km/l, c’mon Q3, you can do it!
But then… shortly after that little bit of driver heaven, the actual heavens really opened up. Poor visibility from the pouring rain was the least of my worries. The resistance from the wet road on the other hand, meant that we were not making good progress with our fuel numbers at this point.
The rain came and went, and soon, we could tell that we were nearing the Thai border, when we spotted signs advertising third party vehicle insurance.
We had hit the 22.2km/l "milestone" a while back, and by now, when I tried to get the Q3 to coast, the engine would simply not shut off.
With paperwork in-hand, we clear the Malaysian side, and then proceed on to the Sadao Border Checkpoint. According to Thai immigration rules, Luke and Khai had to disembark, and walk through the immigration building. I had a wad of papers on me, and had to drive to the counter to get them endorsed.
Confusions upon confusions over, I was by now out of puff, and Luke took over the wheel.
We were in Thailand, but still had an hour more to go in our journey, before we reached the Shell station near our hotel. This would be the endpoint of the challenge.
Traffic in Hatyai was a little more dense, which also meant that it slowly chipped away at our fuel efficiency figures. However, we still easily kept our consumption numbers above 20km/l at this point.
It was almost 8pm by the time we arrived at the fuel station, and it was time to find out how well we did. To do this, the good people at Audi simply pumped up the difference and recorded the litres filled. I should say that the Q3 surpassed our expectations, even though we were lugging a heavier load than our counterparts.
We topped up 47.63 litres, to a full tank. But maybe a better way to tell the story of the Audi Fuel Efficiency Challenge at this point, would be that our Q3 had another 290km of range left, before the tank was refilled.
So this marks the end of the journey up-North. We check-in at the nearby Monkham Village hotel, and prepare ourselves for dinner.
Click here for part two of the Audi Fuel Efficiency Challenge, where Luke sits erect along some twisty roads, we stop even less for a pee, I eat some bananas, and we end our trip on a bitter-sweet note.
Photos Audi Singapore, Clifford Chow & Luke Pereira
2022 Audi Q3 Mild Hybrid 1.5 TFSI S tronic
Engine 1498, inline4 turbocharged with MHEV
Transmission 7-speed S tronic
Top Speed 206km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.8l/100km (combined)