It's Saturday and I'm on my way to Bamberg. Around 160 kilometers and the opportunity to try it yourself. A speed limit of 120 km / h on German motorways is being discussed, and I'm already trying it out today. With a car that is anything but particularly suitable for it.
My Saab 9-3 Aero is almost 20 years old, has a 4-speed automatic and 17 "tires for this vehicle class. So you shouldn't expect miracles, the reference value of the last motorway trips is 9,8 liters as consumption. They were completed at an average of 150, 160 km / h - a speed at which Saab and driver feel comfortable.
A quick reset of the on-board computer, then off to the motorway. Tempo 120, I feel it for the first few meters, is really slow. Almost every other road user overtakes me, whether it's a small car, van or SUV. My foot on the accelerator doesn't like the slow speed either, I constantly catch myself with the speedometer swinging between 130 and 140. But it's no use, I have to go through it now! So the cruise control activated, set 120, and the 9-3 climbs the Kauppenaufstieg on the A3. This is boring, and before it gets boring for readers, a short story from my life.
The Kauppen ascent
A reader recently said that I should tell more about myself. After all, he reads me every day and is therefore in contact with me more often than with some family members. All right then! The Kauppen ascent the A3 is new, multi-lane. Its old version was extremely dangerous, and the most accident-prone section of the motorway in Northern Bavaria. I think it was 1971 when I almost breathed out my very young life there. My father and I were in a Ford Taunus 12 M (the one with the Saab engine) on the opposite lane on the descent from Rohrbrunn towards Aschaffenburg. On the road there was a wooden board that had been lost by a truck that had been driving earlier. It was impossible to evade, the traffic was already too dense back then. The Ford drove over the wood, which swirled against the underbody and cut the brake line.
I don't know how my old man managed it, but he kept his nerve. Somehow he made it to the nearest parking lot, let the Ford coast to a stop, and stopped safely. My mother only heard about it casually, and I cannot remember how she had reacted. After decades, the story still runs through my head as I ride the descent. The route has changed since then, but I can still recognize the place with the parking lot.
With the little story we passed the time to Würzburg. I still don't enjoy 120 km / h, but consumption has dropped to 8,3 liters. Not bad, but I have to go across town now, and that's when the automatic system hits. When I roll onto the A7, there are 8,5 liters on the display again. In the meantime I've got used to about 120. I glide along relaxed, enjoy the comfort of the 9-3, the speed of the gearbox, which has just been translated, is just under 3.000 revolutions.
What about climate change?
Of course, I'm not just doing the self-experiment because of the discussion about the speed limit. I am also concerned with conserving resources and the question of how a 20-year-old car fits in with the times. On the evening of that day, television will report from Spain. Greta Thunberg has organized her largest climate academy to date, the topic moves the masses. Perhaps. Or maybe not. The way it looks on the A70, no one is interested in CO2 emissions and ecological footprints.
I like to scold the big, thick SUVs that plow over the highway under full load. They still exist today, but with my 120 km / h traveling dune I am a traffic obstacle for everyone. The highway is relatively clear and people drive according to a modified Donald Trump quote "I have a lot of horsepower, why shouldn't I use it?". Trump once said this in connection with nuclear weapons. And he didn't mean that as fun.
From the Dacia to the Bentayga, everything that works or almost everything overtakes me today. The crews of vehicles with Romanian or Bulgarian license plates alone are consistently slower than I am. At 110 they stoically pull their train eastwards in their diesel vehicles, which we are no longer allowed to drive. Economical and guaranteed to be sustainable. The consumption probably with fabulous values below 4 liters. Not because of the environment, but for other reasons.
Speed limit 120 relaxed
Consumption continues to fall towards Bamberg. 8,2 then 8,1. Shortly before Bamberg I see the 8th. I'm relaxed, low blood pressure and resting heart rate. You can live with a speed of 120, no question about it! I'm just 160 minutes slower on the roughly 10 kilometers - a number that can be neglected. Does the consumption still drop below the magic 8?
He does not do it. When I was at Muckelbauer drive to the yard, it is still on the display. I pull out the iphone, at that moment it jumps to 8,1. Bad luck! The bottom line is an under-consumption of 1,8 liters in the room. With a more sensitive gas foot and without Würzburg city traffic, it would have been 2 or 2,1 liters.
As I said, my Aero is not the ideal car for self-tests of this kind. If you exclude the automatic system, which I do not want to do without, it would be half a liter less consumption with the manual transmission. Tires in a smaller dimension would result in another 0,1 liters per inch. Around 7 liters of fuel would not be an illusion with a 20-year-old 9-3 at a speed limit. In the end, this would only be a small advantage for modern vehicles with 8 or 9-speed automatic transmissions.
How sustainable is that?
There are few arguments that would speak against old cars in everyday life. On the contrary. If a general speed limit is introduced, its greatest disadvantages are eliminated. Modern cars score with better chassis, brakes and lighting systems. Their strengths count especially at high speeds and are becoming increasingly less important at a comfortable 120 km / h.
The biggest asset is sustainability. Because the greatest consumption of resources took place two or three decades ago. If you now consume one or two liters per 2 kilometers more, then you can cope with it. For classification only: The production of a new VW Golf emits an average of 5 tons of CO2. If we generously assume that the Golf consumes 2 liters less per 100 kilometers, then the old Saab can be moved 2 kilometers with this CO105.000 backpack without the modern Golf having an environmental benefit.
And while the VW Group gives the average lifespan of its products at 200.000 kilometers, the legends from Trollhättan play in a higher league. When the next Golf goes into production in Wolfsburg and its predecessor ends up at the recycling center, my old Saab still drives and is therefore a really sustainable vehicle.