Modern cars have lots of clever features that help you to get the most out of every drop of fuel. Most sold new since 2010 have a stop/start system that switches the engine off when the car isn’t moving (at a set of traffic lights, for example). The engine restarts almost instantly when you need to pull away (as you press the clutch in a manual or select Drive in an automatic).
There’s usually a way to turn the system off completely (via a switch or menu setting), but if you want to reduce fuel consumption we’d recommend leaving the stop/start system on.
Many cars also offer you a choice of driving modes. This function varies between models, but the range of modes generally includes Normal (the car’s ‘default’ mode), Sport (which makes the car feel faster and more responsive) and Eco (which switches the car into its most efficient settings, reducing the engine’s power, the responsiveness of the accelerator and the strength of the air con). Eco mode won’t turn things down so much as to make the car feel slow or uncomfortable but it can be enough to noticeably improve your fuel consumption.
It’s often worth using your car’s cruise control function if it has one, too. When driving at a constant speed – on the motorway, for instance – cruise control can maintain a steady speed for you, eliminating any subtle acceleration or deceleration that could cause the engine to work harder.