New Zealand's Chris Amon was regarded as one of the quickest drivers in the world of Formula One in the 1960s and 1970s - now he can lay claim to being the leanest, meanest and greenest driver in New Zealand.

Amon won the 2004 EnergyWise Rally the other day, an indirect, four-day Auckland-Wellington-Auckland journey of 1617km designed to highlight the low fuel consumption of modern cars in real-world driving conditions.

The first EnergyWise rally was held in 2002. One of the rules of the event is that the cars must be driven in a manner that reflects normal driving conditions on New Zealand roads. It is not a snail's pace economy run, nor a sprint.

Amon, piloting a 1.5-litre, petrol-electric Toyota Prius sedan, used his considerable skills to average 4.02 litres/100km, or 70.3mpg.

In second place was Christchurch motoring writer Brian Cowan, also in a hybrid Prius.

Cowan - a winner in the nationally televised IQ test earlier this year - recorded 4.39 litres/100km, or 64.4mpg.

He dead-heated with the thriftiest petrol-powered vehicle, a 1-litre Daihatsu Charade hatchback driven by another motoring writer, Jacqui Madelin.

But the car that unofficially took second place overall was a 1.5-litre turbodiesel Hyundai Getz.

The oil-burning version of the Korean company's small hatchback isn't sold in New Zealand and was imported specially for the rally. It recorded 4.18 litres/100km. or 67.5mpg. Hyundai is now evaluating it for sale here.

The next best diesel was the 2-litre Peugeot 307, with 4.61 litres/100km (61.3mpg) followed by the 1.9-litre Skoda Fabia RS with 4.79 litres/100km (59.0mpg) and the 2-litre Volkswagen Golf with 5.22 litres/100km (54.2mpg).

The sportiest car in the 36-vehicle field, a 1.8-litre Lotus Elise, returned 5.69 litres/100km (49.7mpg).

In the large/luxury category, the 3-litre Honda Accord did 7.66 litres/100km (36.9mpg), the 3.6-litre VZ Holden Commodore 8.24 litres/100km (34.3mpg) and 4-litre Ford Falcon XR6 9.75 litres/100km (29.0mpg). The 3.2-litre V6 Mercedes-Benz S320 turbodiesel swallowed 6.46 litres/100km (43.7mpg),

Of the four-wheel-drives, the 2.9-litre turbodiesel Hyundai Terracan did 7.29 litres/100km (38.8mpg) and the 2.5-litre VW Touareg 8.25 litres/100km (34.2mpg). The 4-litre petrol-powered Ford Territory consumed 10.21 litres/100km (27.7mpg). The results are at www.energywiserally.org.nz

* The Herald's motoring editor, Alastair Sloane, missed this year's rally, after winning the four-wheel-drive category in 2002. He was overseas at the wheel of the new VW Golf GTi. His report on the hot new hatchback will appear next week.