Yet another Guinness World Record for fuel economy was recently announced, this time coming from the U.S. and the folks over at VW. The latest is that a 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI managed to set a new benchmark in the category of “lowest fuel consumption – 48 U.S. contiguous states for a non-hybrid car” by eking out 81.17 mpg, besting the previous record of 77.99 mpg. The super-efficient run even managed to beat out the standing hybrid vehicle record of 74.34 mpg.

The Golf managed to visit each of the 48 contiguous states in an 8,233.5-mile mega-journey that lasted 16 days and burned just 101.43 gallons of diesel fuel. Only $294.98 was spent on fill-ups.

The record-setting vehicle set off from the Volkswagen of America headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, on Monday, June 22nd, returning a little over two weeks later on Tuesday July 7th. 

At the wheel was Wayne Gerdes, an automotive journalist and the founder of cleanmpg.com. Gerdes has extensive experience in the realm of hypermiling, having set mileage records in more than 100 different vehicles, including the previous record of 77.99 mpg set in 2013 driving a 2013 VW Passat TDI. Bob Winger, an electronics engineer involved in energy and conservation projects, joined him as co-driver. 

The car was outfitted with Goodyear low rolling-resistance Fuel Max tires, a Linear Logic ScanGauge II device to measure fuel economy, G4 smartphones from LG and a GPS nav system from Garmin to meet the Guinness tracking requirements.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

When equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Golf TDI returns a manufacturer-claimed 45 mpg on the highway, which makes this new record pretty remarkable. It’s testament to Gerdes’ hypermiling practices, and proves that when it comes to getting the most distance out of your gas tank, it’s not so much what you drive as how you drive it.

Overall, the key to high mileage is not one thing, but a variety of things combined.

In a press release, Gerdes said that he doesn’t think people realize the huge fuel saving potential available through VW’s line of TDI diesel engines. “In our experience, it is possible to get truly impressive mileage results by using just a few simple fuel-saving techniques,” he said.

So then, what are these techniques? The press release doesn’t go on to illustrate, but there are a few things we can share from our own experiences.

Overall, the key to high mileage is not one thing, but a variety of things combined. First, make sure your car is properly maintained. Simple stuff like a dirty air filter can hinder your engine’s performance. Next, make sure your tires are properly inflated, as low tire pressure can create higher rolling resistance. Make sure your car is as light as possible – you don’t want to spend extra fuel because you’re carrying around your entire collection of Road&Track in your trunk. Make all your inputs as smooth as possible, and focus on conservation of momentum – jerky acceleration and deceleration can make a big difference. Finally, make sure your car is as aerodynamic as possible, without stuff like bulky antennas or aftermarket parts catching the wind at speed.

Clearly, interest in hypermiling is growing, as several other automakers are keen to set records of their own.

These are just a handful of techniques you could use to get the most from that precious dino juice, whether you’re driving a Golf TDI or Chevy Corvette. 

Clearly, interest in hypermiling is growing, as several other automakers are keen to set records of their own. Honda, for example, recently set its own Guinness World Record by averaging over 100 mpg in a Civic Tourer that visited each of the 24 contiguous EU countries, while Audi managed to set a different Guinness World Record by sending an A6 TDI to 14 different countries on a single tank, averaging 75.9 mpg in the process. 

It’s all vaguely reminiscent of the constant one-upping seen with lap times at the Nurburgring (back when that was still a thing).

Will accomplished hypermilers one day see the same fame as racing drivers? Will a hypermiler’s ability to get up to freeway speeds on a whiff of fuel rival a racing driver’s skills off an apex? Will the SCCA open up a new category for ultra fuel-economy competition?

So far, gas prices aren’t looking too bad. But once all this cheap fuel starts to get more expensive again, maybe the above scenarios will become a reality.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review here.

Press Release

Volkswagen of America, Inc., is pleased to announce today that the 2015 Golf TDI® Clean Diesel, part of the family of vehicles that won the 2015 North American Car of the Year, has set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® achievement for the “lowest fuel consumption—48 U.S. contiguous States for a non-hybrid car” with a remarkable 81.17 mpg. Traveling 8,233.5 miles around America in 16 days on $294.98 of Shell® Diesel fuel, the Golf beat the previous mark of 77.99 mpg by more than 3 mpg, and also beat the hybrid vehicle record of 74.34 mpg by more than 6 mpg.

Volkswagen Golf TDI Set Guinness World Record For Lowest Fuel Consumption Exterior Models Male
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“Covering 8,233.5 miles on just 101.43 gallons of Clean Diesel fuel is a remarkable accomplishment, and solid proof of the efficiency and fuel economy of Volkswagen’s TDI® Clean Diesel vehicles,” said Michael Horn, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Whether on a long road trip, or even in daily commuting, the great mileage and long range of our TDI models is a pure convenience factor that few other vehicles on sale can match. It’s a simple formula: Less Stop, More Go!”

The record-setting Golf TDI, sporting Volkswagen of America’s 60th anniversary emblem, as well as logos from sponsors Shell®, Goodyear®, LG®, Garmin® and Linear-Logic®, departed from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., on Monday, June 22. It returned on Tuesday, July 7, having visited all 48 contiguous states.

Wayne Gerdes, automotive journalist and founder of cleanmpg.com, was the primary driver. His co-driver was Bob Winger, an electronics engineer long involved in energy and conservation projects. Gerdes is an expert hypermiler who has set mileage records in more than 100 vehicles. In 2013, Gerdes set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for “lowest fuel consumption—48 U.S. states for a non-hybrid car” in a 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI, with an outstanding 77.99 mpg.

“Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel engines are just amazing,” said Wayne Gerdes. “I don’t think people realize the potential mileage you can get from them. In our experience, it is possible to get truly impressive mileage results by using just a few simple fuel-saving techniques.”

Volkswagen Golf TDI Set Guinness World Record For Lowest Fuel Consumption Exterior Models Male
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The 2015 Golf TDI uses Volkswagen’s advanced turbocharged and direct-injection Clean Diesel engine to achieve an EPA estimated highway fuel economy of 45 miles per gallon when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. The Golf TDI joins five other models in Volkswagen’s TDI lineup that achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 40 mpg or better on the highway.

For the attempt, the Golf TDI used Shell ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, available at nearly 8,000 Shell stations nationwide, and Goodyear Assurance® Fuel Max® tires which feature a fuel-saving tread compound to help increase fuel efficiency and offer confident all-season traction. The record-setting Golf TDI was also equipped with a Linear Logic ScanGauge II to precisely measure fuel economy, G4 smartphones by LG® and a Garmin nüvi® 57 LM GPS navigator to meet GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ tracking requirements.

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