Letters of the week, November 22

Your correspondence


Nobody’s fuel

Much though we love our recently bought Toyota Prius, first registered in 2010 and with 40,000 miles on the clock, there is no way it achieves anything like the 72mpg advertised (“Setting the hybrid bar higher still”, last week). Our average is 56mpg, regardless of whether it’s urban or motorway driving. I don’t believe the fuel consumption figures given by any manufacturer and certainly won’t be rushing to buy the new Prius on the basis of its apparently achieving 85mpg.

Lesley Cottrell, Portishead, Bristol

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Go figure

John Crawford suggests that drivers should take manufacturers’ official mpg figures with a pinch of salt (“Fuelling no one”, Points, last week). I would argue that not all manufacturers fiddle their figures. My previous 2.5-litre petrol Subaru Outback easily achieved Subaru’s official mpg figures and my current Subaru Forester XT gets very close to them, despite not yet being run in.

Paul Condie, Edinburgh

Electric dreams

We hear quite a lot about electric cars, but, assuming they become popular, could the UK’s power-generating capacity meet the recharging demand, even with most charging done at night?

GC Platts, Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Cold truth

I am dismayed to see you describing R1234yf as a coolant (“Mercedes takes aim at ‘toxic’ coolant”, News, last week). Coolant goes into radiators and usually consists of water plus enough ethylene glycol to stop it freezing. R1234yf is a refrigerant that functions by changing state between liquid and gas. It belongs in the air-conditioning system, absorbing heat.

Stephen Younger, St Andrews, Fife

Scene stealer

If Johnny Tipler was enjoying the North Coast 500 so much (“Great drives: Scotland’s Route 500”, last week), why did he scoot straight back to Inverness from Ullapool instead of finishing the route? Perhaps he was so entranced by the magnificent scenery that he missed the right turn at Corrieshalloch Gorge.

Jeanette Stafford, Bearsden, Glasgow

Small pleasures

I enjoyed reading AA Gill’s weekend flirtation with a Ferrari (“We’ve kicked a sleeping troll. What’s next, son?”, last week).

Perhaps a humble Mazda MX-5 next time: 10% of the price, just as much fun and none of the big-name hang-ups.

Ken Holland, Teignmouth, Devon

Number’s up

Peugeot’s claim to exclusivity for a central zero in their cars’ nomenclature apparently did not apply to Bristol’s 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407, 408 and 409 (“The end of the 911 as we know it . . . again”, last week). No doubt Peugeot breathed a sigh of relief when Bristol announced its 410.

Professor Emeritus A Peter Fawcett, Sheffield

Mileage tax

Regarding Robert Waddy’s letter (“Tax demand”, Points, last week), I think the likes of me more than compensate the DVLA for lost revenue due to VW’s understated emissions: I pay a whopping £265 a year for my 2-litre petrol Mazda MX-5, which I use to the grand extent of 2,400 miles a year.

David Simpson, Stoke-on-Trent

Written in the stars

Andrew Tillman may be unaware of a vehicle called the Starfighter, that being the Lockheed F-104 aircraft, otherwise known as “the Widowmaker” (“Making a name”, Points, November 8). I guess McLaren would avoid that name: probably its only customer would be Guy Martin.

Richard Ibrahim, Brent Knoll, Somerset

Driven round the bend

I agree with Paul Verdier’s suggestion to enforce speed restrictions on roundabouts so as to give everyone a chance to join the flow of traffic, thus reducing the queues of cars prevented from entering the roundabout by the speed of traffic on the main route (“Slow the flow”, Points, November 8).

A large number of drivers, once they enter a roundabout, seem to treat it as though they are driving on a main road that just happens to be curved: the minor roads joining ahead of them can be ignored.

Richard Barlow, Gloucestershire

Cutting corners

Two street corners were used by driving-test examiners in Louth, Lincolnshire, to assess competence in reversing (“Learner drivers: why is pays to go to far-flung places if you want to pass first time”, November 8). One was a learner’s nightmare. The other was a doddle.

“I hope we don’t get Schoolhouse Lane corner,” I said to a fellow candidate when I went for my test in June 1964.

“You won’t,” he replied. “My mate’s parked his truck there.” We both passed.

Professor David Clark, Ashow, Warwickshire

Vacuum task

There have been several letters referring to compressed air wipers (“The wipe stuff”, Points, last week). They weren’t operated by compressed air but by vacuum. A petrol engine (unlike a diesel) produces quite a high vacuum in the induction manifold when at low throttle opening. This vacuum can be used to drive a vacuum-operated motor. The vacuum collapses when the throttle is opened wide, giving rise to the symptoms described.

Roger Flavell, Barlaston, Staffordshire

Wiped out

The nostalgic correspondence about the deficiencies of primitive windscreen wipers is amusing. A current deliberate, pointless and dangerous design fault is washers that cannot be controlled independently of wipers. On a cool day on a salted motorway, for instance, the dry windscreen slowly becomes speckled. You cannot check if you have washer liquid without activating the wipers: if the washer bottle is empty or frozen, the wipers smear the screen, producing immediate near-total loss of vision.

Clive Crosse, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Cashing in

As someone who regularly pays more per week in parking charges than petrol, I thought it the ultimate wind-up at a parking meter to read, “No change given”, and, below, “Overpayments accepted”.

Mike Aylett, Ashford, Surrey


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