YouTube channel Garbage Time had a theory that a mighty Ford V8 could potentially best a tiny Fiat 126 in a fuel economy competition if the scales were tipped just so. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but it's fun to watch regardless.
As per the YouTube video, we get to see the two cars duking it out on a 70-km (43-mile) circuit through the suburbs of South Australia. A car named Tony sits in one corner, a Fiat 126, sold in Australia as the FSM Niki. The tiny two-door hatch boasts a diminutive 0.65-liter two-cylinder engine good for just 24 horsepower. Jeff, the mighty Ford Falcon, on the other hand, sports a 4.9-liter V8 with 221 hp on tap.
It may seem like an unfair contest, with the heavier V8 Ford sure to lose. However, Garbage Time hoped to see how close the Falcon could get, given the right conditions. The tiny Fiat struggles up inclines and can barely hit 60 mph without a tailwind. Thus, on a highway circuit involving some big hills, the Fiat would be almost always on wide-open throttle, giving the Aussie sedan a chance to lope to victory. It mirrors a famous Top Gear experiment, where a cruising BMW M5 was able to keep up with a Toyota Prius driven flat out, while also using less fuel.
Each car was driven around the circuit in the early hours of the morning to minimize the influence of traffic. The difference in driving experience is clear. The Falcon cruises along comfortably and rarely has reason to exceed 2,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the Fiat offers a white-knuckle ride as it huffs and puffs to keep up with traffic. The tiny two-cylinder engine screams its head off at all times just to get the car down the road.
When all is said and done, though, the Fiat still came out on top. It used 3.92 liters (1.04 gallons) of fuel, posting an economy figure of 5.6 L/100 km, or 42 mpg. That's scarily close to the official factory specs of 5.4 L/100 km, published back in 1989. As for the Falcon, a deft touch paid dividends. It used 7.54 liters (1.99 gallons) of fuel, for a total economy figure of roughly 21 mpg. That's not great, but it's a darn sight better than the 15 mpg it usually posts around town.
Overall, easing off the lead foot will always save fuel, particularly with a thirsty engine. However, if you want to best a 1980s Fiat buzzbox in the economy stakes, you'll have to bring something more advanced than a mid-'90s Aussie land barge.
You can watch the experiment below.
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