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Old April 15th, 2018, 14:34   #33
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Originally Posted by tadawson View Post
So, I'd love to see a comparison of similar size and weight from current to 1970's or so . . . I don't think the gains will be what a lot of folks think they are.
I have one for you.

I learned to drive in a 1978 Honda Civic CVCC.

1.5 litre (optional engine), 5 speed manual, no catalyst, Honda's fancy CVCC system - which ended up carboning up and causing massive driveability problems. This car weighed about 800 kg; this had already been increased over the standard Civic because of the impact absorbing bumpers, and the bigger-engine models had a longer nose. The only thing electronic in that car was the radio. You had to fiddle with the breaker points every 8000 km and once in a while you had to replace the points and condenser.

Fuel consumption was about 6 litres per 100 km. It could be coaxed (reasonably, without hypermiling) to around 5.5 litres per 100 km.

When I exited from driving VW diesels, I split the motorcycle hauling and daily driving tasks. I don't need a big car for work, a small one is better for finding parking spots. So, I returned to my roots as far as the daily driver is concerned.

The daily driver is a 2015 Fiat 500, 5 speed manual, 1.4 non-turbo. It is roughly the same size on the outside as the Civic was. The back seat is even more useless than what I remember of the Civic - but the 500 sacrifices some practicality for styling; to be honest if I could have bought a Panda instead (same platform and about the same size but 4 doors and a more squared-off roofline) I probably would have.

The Fiat weighs about 1100 kg - still a lightweight by today's standards but well above what the Civic weighed. The Fiat has a little over 100 hp, the Honda had 63. The Fiat's high-tech engine feature is the MultiAir variable valve timing and lift system. Fuel consumption in day-to-day driving is 5.5 - 6.0 L/100 km ... right where the Civic was.

In every other way, they are worlds apart. The Fiat meets today's safety standards. If you were in a crash in the Honda, heaven help, because you were on your own. The Fiat has ABS and stability control and 4 wheel disk brakes. The Honda ... didn't. The Fiat has air-con, the Honda didn't. The Fiat has automatic climate control, heated seats, height-adjustable seats, cruise control, in-car entertainment with bluetooth and the like. The Honda had an AM radio.

The Civic was ready for the scrap heap with 180,000 km on it. Too early to tell with the Fiat ... it has 75,000 km on it, and runs like new.

So in the same size car, the fuel consumption has stayed the same even though the weight has gone up and performance has gotten better and they have gained a lot of comfort and convenience features. I know Fiat paid attention in the wind tunnel. I doubt if the Honda ever saw a wind tunnel when that car was designed in the early 1970s.

The other vehicle in the driveway is also a Fiat-derived product ... a ProMaster van. Compare that to my friend Al's 1983 Dodge Ram van back in the day. The ProMaster has a 280hp Pentastar V6. The old van had a slant six with a single barrel carb. The new one has way more interior space. Comfort ... way better. Safety ... way better. The van uses 11 - 12 L/100 km in mostly-rural driving, which I really can't complain about. We just towed a trailer with it, 2 bikes in the van and 2 more in an enclosed trailer, and it used 13-ish while towing ... which I can't complain about. The old van would use more than that without anything in it.

The USA's collective fuel consumption problem is because people want to drive lifted 4x4 pickup trucks to transport themselves back and forth to work and to the grocery store ...

It has not helped that the Civic has become a big-ish car. The Accord is comparatively huge. My dad had a 1983 Accord which did fine with a 1.6 litre engine.
Brian P.
formerly ... 2006 Jetta TDI 5-sp, Spice Red, Unitronics stage 1, 0.681 5th gear.
and before that ... 1996 Passat TDI, Silk Blue
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