Q: I bought a Matiz at the end of October and it does everything I’d expect – but I’m disappointed with its fuel use. Very gentle mixed driving, mostly on country roads, has brought me an average of 42mpg. The dealer tells me that I’m being over-demanding, but I find this hard to believe. What is your view? The car has covered 2600 miles so far. Mike Sadler
A: To be honest, 42mph sounds about right. We'd expect you to get around 10-15% less than the official combined fuel consumption figure of 50.4mpg.
Country roads could well increase your fuel use compared to A-roads or motorways. Hills or tight, twisty sections, where you need to slow down and then accelerate, will increase consumption.
Accelerating slowly isn't considered the best option. Accelerate normally through the gears to your desired speed and then change to the highest gear possible.
When cruising, try to use fifth gear from around 30mph up, and aim to keep the engine speed to between 2000rpm and 3000rpm.
Switch off the engine if you're going to be at a standstill for more than a minute.
Keep windows and sunroofs shut, and make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure. Wind resistance and drag from under-inflated tyres will increase bills.
Lastly, your car is still fairly new – as the engine wears, there should be less friction in its components, so fuel economy should improve slightly as the car beds in after about 8000-10,000 miles.