When it comes to fuel economy, there's a debate about engine size vs. engine speed. Is it better to have a bigger engine turning low RPMs or a small engine revving its heart out? Recently, the Garbage Time YouTube channel attempted to answer that age-old fuel consumption question while trying to consume 10 minutes of your time.
The video features a 1996 Ford Falcon and a 1991 FSM Niki, a revised version of the Fiat 126 sold in Australia from 1989 to 1992. With the air conditioning on, the Falcon burns 15.7 liters of fuel every 100 kilometers, the equivalent of about 15 mpg. As for the Niki, it doesn't have air conditioning. We're also not really sure what kind of gas mileage it gets because it keeps breaking down. But with a tiny 650cc two-cylinder engine and a 1,300 lb curb weight, the Niki should thrash the Falcon in a battle of the least. If it stays running.
The race is simple, drive 100 km over a mixture of roads while keeping up with traffic. The Falcon cruises serenely, barely cracking 1,800 rpm. It never breaks a sweat, even on the highway, easily keeping up with traffic.
According to Garbage Time, driving the Niki flat out is like being in a "caged motorcycle" or a "wheelbarrow for humans." Far from powerful, its two-cylinder engine thrashes just to maintain speed on the highway, struggling valiantly to reach the speed limit, before settling back to 80 km/h (50 mph).
Ultimately the race ends, and the fuel economy scores are tallied. The Falcon manages a respectable 10.77 liters per 100 km or almost 22 mpg. Running flat out most of the time, the Niki burned 5.6 liters per 100 km, the equivalent of 42 mpg.
As for who truly wins, it may come down to your preference. Would you rather spend more on gas to get somewhere comfortably? Or, are you the kind of person who goes the cheapest route possible or enjoys the sensation of driving a slow car fast?