Achieving a truly outstanding milestone in mileage, Mercedes-Benz announced the successful completion of its unprecedented Around Sri Lanka in One Tank with VITO Challenge.
Organized by DIMO PLC, the ambitious adventure was designed to definitively prove the Benz VITO van’s unmatched fuel economy, resulting in a record three-day journey spanning over 1,324 kilometers of Sri Lanka’s stunning coastal belt, all on just a single 70 litre tank of fuel.
Leading the charge around the island was accomplished driver and passionate motoring journalist, Sam Smith, who put the Benz VITO through its paces throughout the long journey. Starting from the DIMO Mercedes-Benz showroom in Colombo, Smith travelled south along the coast to Yala on Day 1 where the drivers were treated to a brief but memorable stay at Cinnamon Wild having achieved a fuel economy of 18.5 km per litre.
Thereafter, the two Benz VITOs moved back up along the East coast crossing scenic coastal cities at Arugam Bay, where they were welcomed at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon with an average of 19.45km/l economy totaling 718km, before setting a course for the tall palms of Jaffna on the third and final day of the road trip with the longest and the most challenging day ahead of them.
“I have to say that this was quite a challenging drive, especially over the second and third days. We didn’t modify the Mercedes-Benz Vito very much: it was run with the normal tire pressures and air conditioning for the entire drive. The first day was fairly straightforward, and we were able to end the day winding down at the beautiful Cinnamon Wild hotel. But from there on, it was pretty challenging. We started our day well before sunrise and continued on.
“It took a fair amount of adjustment for us to modify our driving technique to achieve such an incredibly high fuel economy. During this learning period, our fuel economy was 16 km per litre, which was below our target of 21 km per litre, however, with gradual acceleration and the focus of keeping up momentum, we were able to get the VITO performing right on the mark,” he elaborated.
With one day and half of the country to travel, Smith acknowledged that even he had some serious doubts as to whether the Benz VITO would pull through the final North-South stretch from Jaffna through Kalpitiya to Colombo; doubts which were rigorously tested in the final hours of their journey.
“By the time we had reached Kurunegala, our fuel tank registered as completely empty and at that point we were just determined to push the vehicle as far as it could possible go. We had to be very patient with our driving technique but in the end what seemed impossible at the start of the day gradually got closer within our reach and so we were all overjoyed when we made it past Wattala and back to the DIMO showroom where it all began,” Smith said.
Completing this impossible journey with an average fuel efficiency of 20.8 km per liter, the Around Sri Lanka in One Tank with VITO challenge effectively cemented the van as easily the most fuel-efficient vehicle available in the local market.
“Generally, I would say that the Sri Lankan driving style is not one which is immediately suited to ensuring you get the most fuel economy. However, for those who are willing to change their approach, you’ll be totally surprised at just how much of a difference this can make.
“The most important thing is to try and maintain gentle acceleration when controlling the throttle pedal. As much as possible, you have to maintain your momentum too. This means that if you’re trying to maximize fuel economy, you should ideally accelerate gently up to speed, whilst where possible gently coasting to a stop. Having done this journey ourselves, even I thought it was impossible, yet this vehicle, driven cleverly can easily achieve the impossible when it comes to fuel economy. Especially for a van, the Benz VITO provides a great combination of value – balancing affordability with comfort, a solid driving experience and fuel efficiency,” Smith stated.
For more information on the Mercedes-Benz VITO visit www.aroundsrilankawithvito.com