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Top 10 most economical cars
The most economical cars of 2014 are incredibly fuel-efficient. How does 90+mpg for a family hatchback sound, for example?
Keeping up to date with which cars have the best fuel economy isn't easy, so here's our up-to-the-minute guide to the cars with the best mpg.
Low CO2 emissions go hand-in-hand with good fuel economy, of course, and because the road fund licence and company car tax are based on CO2 emissions the most economical cars are also cheap cars to run.
As well as the top 10 most economical petrol and diesel cars we've also listed the ten next best, and even the thirstiest of those returns nearly 80mpg.
There's a separate list for the top 10 most economical plug-in hybrid cars, too. These are more efficient than a conventional hybrid because their battery can be recharged via a charger or mains socket, giving them a longer electric-only range and remarkable mpg. If you want to go all-electric, read our guide to the best electric cars.
Read on to discover the most economical new cars on sale in 2014. If low running costs are a priority, these are the cars for you!
The best electric cars
The best small cars to buy
Best diesel cars to buy
How to save fuel: 20 top fuel economy tips for motorists
20 of the most economical £10k used cars
Top 20 cheapest new cars with no road tax
The top 10 most economical new cars in the UK
1: Peugeot 308 BlueHDI 120 – 91.1mpg, 82g/km CO2
It’s no surprise to see a small, frugal diesel engine leading the fuel economy stakes.
Peugeot’s 308 - the 2014 European Car of the Year - returns an incredible 91.1mpg combined with just 82g/km CO2 when fitted with the French firm’s BlueHDI 120hp 1.6 turbodiesel unit. How long will it be before we see a conventionally fuelled family car that breaks the 100mpg barrier?
2: Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Eco 2 – 88.3mpg, 83g/km CO2
We know first hand just how efficient the Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Eco2 is – we’ve got one and it’s delivering impressive real-world fuel economy.
In real-world conditions, we’ve seen more than 84mpg, so with a very careful right foot and some clever hypermiling techniques, we’re confident Renault’s claims of 88.3mpg with 83g/km CO2 would be achievable.
3: Hyundai i20 1.1CRDi – 88.3mpg, 84g/km CO2
When Hyundai facelifted the i20 supermini, part of the package of revisions included the launch of a super-efficient diesel model, using the firm's excellent 1.1-litre three-cylinder engine.
In eco-orientated Blue trim, it emits just 84g/km and averages an impressive 88.3mpg. Combined with great value prices, Hyundai has a compelling deal – one of the greenest regular-engined road cars, for one of the best-value prices on the road.
4: Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi – 88.3mpg, 85g/km CO2
The roomy and practical Kia Rio five-door, five-seat supermini is a star when it comes to economy. With 88.3mpg and 85g/km CO2, Kia said it was the most economical conventional-engined car on sale anywhere in the world at launch.
Well, it was until Hyundai rolled out the i20 sister car (above) with CO2 emissions that beat it – by 1g/km...
5: Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 110 Bluemotion – 88.3mpg, 85g/km CO2
Yet another Volkswagen Golf variant that nails its brief perfectly, the 110hp Golf Bluemotion’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit will cover an incredible 88.3 miles for every gallon of juice it sips.
With a projected range of more than 900 miles per tank, assuming an average of around 10-12,000 miles per year, it means you might only have to fill up 11 times in 12 months.
6: Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCI 95 Econetic – 85.6mpg, 85g/km CO2
The UK’s favourite car is the sixth most economical one - when it comes to petrol and diesel, that is. Returning efficiency like this and combining it with the Fiesta’s traditional feisty driving dynamics, it’s no surprise it’s so popular.
Ford’s most frugal supermini will return a claimed 85.6mpg with 85g/km CO2, meaning like every car before it, it's road tax free.
7: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI 95 – 85.6mpg, 88g/km CO2
Given the Fiesta is much newer than the Vauxhall Corsa, with much newer engines, too, the Vauxhall’s older, smaller 1.3 turbodiesel returns similar power and similar fuel economy from 0.3 litres less.
It offers exactly the same fuel economy as the Ford at 85.6mpg combined. Even at 3g/km CO2 more, it won’t make a difference to road tax – it’s still free. There’s a new Corsa coming soon, though, so expect even more.
8: Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDI EGC – 83.1mpg, 87g/km CO2
With the 208, Peugeot has made its prettiest supermini since the classic 205. But it's not just an attractive face: the super-efficient 1.4-litre e-HDi engine is also very fuel-efficient too.
It is capable of returning up to 83.1mpg and emits just 87g/km, with a clever and seamless stop-start system cutting inner-city exhaust emissions as well, like many cars on this list.
9: Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDI Airdream – 83.1mpg, 87g/km CO2
Not to be outdone by its parent firm Peugeot, Citroen has also made its most fuel-efficient supermini yet. The Citroen C3 in Airdream guise emits just 87g/km CO2.
This equates to diesel fuel economy of 83.1mpg. As Citroen dealers love to do a deal, it's a green supermini that's well worth checking out.
10: MINI One D – 83.1mpg, 87g/km CO2
The MINI One D is the first premium supermini in our rundown to combine low running costs thanks to high efficiency and all the prestige you’d expect from a marque like MINI.
With its new third-generation hatchback, it’s really hit the nail on the head when it comes to blending desirability and brand image with what small car buyers want – lots of fuel economy and fun handling.
Most economical new cars in the UK: 11-20
11: Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDI Bluemotion Technology – 83.1mpg, 87g/km CO2
Solid reliability, a punchy little diesel engine and Volkswagen’s traditional solidity makes this most efficient version of the Polo – the 1.4-litre turbodiesel Bluemotion Technology – extremely attractive indeed.
It’s not the cheapest supermini around, but you do get what you pay for – which is 83.1mpg combined and a road tax free 87g/km CO2.
12: Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI 105 Econetic 88g – 83.1mpg, 87g/km CO2
We’ve already seen how efficient the UK’s favourite car, the Ford Fiesta, can be. So it’s no surprise to see the UK’s second most popular car high up on our list of economical vehicles.
The Fiesta’s bigger brother, the Ford Focus, can achieve 83.1mpg combined while emitting just 87g/km CO2 in its most efficient Econetic form.
13: Renault Megane 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start – 80.7mpg, 90g/km CO2
Renault has always known how to build competitive diesel cars: the facelifted Megane shows it's at the top of its game, with average fuel economy of 80.7mpg.
That all Megane dCi 110 Stop and Start models return such impressive fuel economy really is a top result for Renault.
On Bing: see pictures of the Renault Megane 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start
Find out how much a used Renault Megane costs on Auto Trader
Renault Megane review (2012 onwards)
14: SEAT Ibiza 1.2 TDI CR 75 – 80.7mpg, 92g/km CO2
SEAT's Ibiza returns the same 80.7mpg as the old VW Polo – but with a new Bluemotion Technology engine for the German Volkswagen, the Spanish supermini is now lagging behind its sister brand.
The SEAT is, however, the cheaper car to buy new, meaning what you lose in economy, you make up for in purchase price.
15: Fiat Punto 1.3 85 Multijet – 80.7mpg, 90g/km CO2
The 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel unit in the Fiat Punto is arguably the pick of the range – refined and torquey, it provides excellent in-gear grunt. The Punto’s eco-credentials are strong, too: 80.7mpg with a CO2 output of 90g/km.
The Punto is a spacious and economical choice, if not at the top of the class dynamically speaking.
16: Volvo V40 1.6 D2 – 78.5mpg, 94g/km CO2
Volvo’s V40 has been a hit since it was released in 2012, adding another offering to the usual trio of premium German hatchbacks, including the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Volkswagen Golf.
Those three all offer a high-efficiency variant (as we’ve seen above with the Golf Bluemotion), and so does the Volvo – lots of Swedish design, plenty of safety and 78.5mpg combined with 94g/km CO2 make the V40 1.6 D2 diesel model an appealing alternative.
17: Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.3 JTDm – 78.5mpg, 95g/km CO2
Alfa Romeo is an evocative name and its affordable MiTo supermini means the famous brand is accessible to more people than ever.
Efficiency is better than ever, as well. The smooth 1.3-litre diesel can average 78.5mpg, making it the most economical Alfa Romeo there has ever been.
18: Citroen DS3 1.6 e-HDI 90 Airdream: 78.5mpg, 94g/km CO2
Two Peugeot-Citroen diesel engines have already featured in the top 10 most economical cars on sale, so it’s no surprise to see another: the two French companies know how to make a frugal power unit.
Boasting more horsepower than the 1.4 thanks to its larger capacity, the 1.6 e-HDI still returns impressive fuel economy in Citroen’s premium supermini derivative, the DS3, at 78.5mpg combined.
19: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC – 78.5mpg, 94g/km CO2
The Honda Civic diesel goes one better again. It makes 30hp more than the Citroen’s unit at 120hp in total, but offers the same efficiency.
Officially, that’s 78.5mpg with 94g/km CO2. Which means you can have this punchy engine and free road tax together.
20: Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI ECO 20.5mpg, 92g/km CO2
Mercedes might have been late to the party with it’s A-Class premium hatchback challenger, letting the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series steal a march, but it knew it needed a super-efficient version straight away.
Which is where the A180 CDI ECO model comes in, with its 78.5mpg and 92g/km CO2 emissions. Low running costs from a high class, premium feeling car is an attractive trait, and the Merc nails it well.
Top 10 most economical plug-in hybrids
1: Volkswagen XL1 – 313mpg, 21g/km CO2
The beetle-wing doored Volkswagen XL1 might look like a concept, but it is actually on sale in the UK (for around £100,000) so it makes our list of plug-in hybrids.
A lightweight carbonfibre chassis like the BMW i3 means there’s not much mass for the 0.8-litre diesel engine and electric motor combination to haul around, equating to fuel economy of 313mpgh with CO2 emissions of just 21g/km.
2: Vauxhall Ampera – 235.4mpg, 27g/km CO2
Vauxhall’s Ampera was something of a revolution when it was introduced, winning the 2012 European Car of the Year award. It secured the title for its futuristic styling and level of technology, combining an on-board 1.4-litre petrol engine as a generator to charge the battery pack.
Technically, the Ampera is a range-extended EV (like the BMW i3 Rex) rather than a proper plug-in hybrid - but its engine does connect directly to the driveline at speeds above 65mph, so it warrants inclusion in this list. Efficiency officially stands at 235.4mpg combined with 27g/km CO2, no doubt helped by a smattering of electric charges.
3: Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – 176.6mpg, 37g/km CO2
Just like the Ampera, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron combines an electric motor and battery pack with a 1.4-litre petrol engine, except here, the petrol unit also drives the wheels.
Hence why it might not be as efficient as the Vauxhall, but 176.6mpg wrapped up in a package as convincing as the practical five-door A3 is not to be sniffed at by any means.
4: Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid – 156.9mpg, 48g/km CO2
The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid broke the mould – before this plug-in hybrids were almost exclusively petrol engines working in conjunction with electric motors.
Not in the Volvo. The Swedish firm plumped for diesel power with its lovely 215hp D5 turbodiesel engine, mating it to a 70hp electric power unit to achieve 156.9mpg combined with 48g/km CO2 on the EU testing cycle.
5: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – 148mpg, 44g/km CO2
Adding an electric motor and battery to Mitsubishi’s petrol-powered Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid means there’s now only room for five seats, not seven like before. But 148mpg is a welcome trade-off. There’s no impact on boot space, either.
With identical pricing to the regular diesel version, the Outlander PHEV with its road tax free and congestion charge exempt 44g/km CO2 output means if you don’t do loads of miles but still need a big, practical school run car, this could be for you.
6: Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid – 134.5mpg, 49g/km CO2
Officially, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is rated at 134.5mpg combined with 49g/km CO2. An impressive showing.
Toyota itself eclipsed that fuel economy recently, sending a Prius Plug-in around the Nuburgring no less, returning a total of 698mpg – it used five tablespoons of fuel, or just 89ml of petrol to cover the 13-mile track. An incredible result that shows plug-in hybrids really do work.
7: BMW i8 – 113mpg, 49g/km CO2
We mentioned hypercars have gone hybrid, well this technology is already starting to trickle through to “regular” supercars.
Having said that, the BMW i8 is anything but. With 357hp combined from its electric motor and 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine from the new MINI, it’ll hit 62mph in 4.4 seconds and 155mph flat out – yet 113mpg is achievable.
8: Porsche 918 Spyder – 94.1mpg, 70g/km CO2
Alongside the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder is another hypercar adopting hybrid technology. It’s incredibly fast and incredibly efficient.
We’re talking 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds and 211mph flat-out from a total of 877hp, delivered from a 4.6-litre V8 and a pair of electric motors. The huge battery pack can be pre-charged, helping it achieve what a few years ago might have seemed impossible: 94.2mpg with 70g/km CO2.
9: Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid – 91.1mpg, 71g/km CO2
The 918 Spyder is actually more efficient than one of Porsche’s “regular” hybrid cars, the Panamera S E-Hybrid.
The big four-door plug-in is a luxury vehicle and is heavier as a result. This drags efficiency down a little – although you wouldn’t think it, given the official 91.1mpg combined total and only 71g/km CO2 emissions. Waft into central London for free.
10: Toyota Yaris Hybrid - 85.6mpg, 75g/km CO2
Toyota's Yaris Hybrid supermini is usefully frugal at 85.6mpg combined. However, it serves as a reminder just how far petrol and diesel cars have come - there are seven conventionally powered cars on sale in the UK today that are as efficient or more economical than the Toyota.
That said, emitting just 75 g/km CO2, it manages to just qualify for the London Congestion Charge exemption. So if you live in the capital and need a small car, this could be for you.
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I wish you lazy motoring journos would get in and test the damn cars you write so positively about!. I bought a Fiat Twinair on the strength of these sorts of reviews a year ago. I have never got it to do more than 50.5 mpg combined and I drive very carefully. So carefully that my colleagues findit funny, that's how carefully.
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE, PEOPLE.
Running costs go much further than fuel economy, for example I find it far more cost effective to run an older car (astrq 1.7td) which although isnt as economical as newer cars, the fact that I have no finance on it makes running costs much lower than having a new car on finance. The fact that the astra has no street cred doesnt bother me, but it has now done 205k miles and has only one not started due to the (original) battery being killed off by last winter, no great shame there......... Still does 55mpg too.
I'm no luddite, I know the world has moved on, and if I had the money to buy a new economical car....... I'd still keep the astra, buy something interesting for nice days, and keep using the astra day to day.
, I'm paying my house off much faster...........
A friend of mine bought a Toyata IQ under the government scrapage scheme on the basis that the IQ did over 70 mpg . The diesel car he scrapped did 55mpg .He is lucky if he gets 44mpg out of the IQ
The garage has been really skillful in putting him off , like you have to run in more miles. well after 10,000 miles it is still no better.
What it needs is for all owners of new cars that do not get the advertised mileage to complain to trading standards, and or a class action in the courts against a manufacturer. .
If enough people do it , then they will change the way they test new cars and stop misleading selling on imaginary unachievable mileage figures.
The problem is with diesel/petrol that, although diesel is cheaper to produce that petrol, the tax on it is a lot higher, so that it costs more. This needs to be taken into account when comparing running costs. Not just the m.p.g.
You are doing well Top Gear got the MPG down to an average of 30 mpg Yes that's right THIRTY MPG you see the motor companies use a rolling road and a simulation on a laptop to make the test repeatable on all cars so that comparisons can be made without too many variations this means that wind resistance does not seem to be taken into account
The vauxhall courser and new ford KA are also under achievers
Also, "Top 10 most economical"? With a long list of joint 11ths and joint 13ths, some with noticably different MPG figures? Did you actually mean "Top 20 low-CO2 cars" or "Top 20 cars under 100g/km CO2"? I mean, it's an impressive list - there's now a lot fewer practical reasons NOT to buy something with such low emissions it gets free road tax (...for now), never mind the EU target of 120g average... but it's not entirely "most economical" is it?
I do wonder, finally, what the deal with all those different cars having 74.3mpg is. Is there some kind of euro directive that has similar tax breaks to our zero-road-fund-license thing which is pegged at 3.8L/100km or lower fuel consumption? (That's what the suspiciously precise 74.3 works out to... like a tenth of an MPG makes any realistic difference when your economy is that good, even with fuel so expensive? Hit a bad headwind and you lose 2-3 MPG anyway, never mind 0.2)
Let's see if anyone makes the mental leap of putting a small multiair-ish diesel as the powerplant in a plug-in hybrid with a slightly larger battery (maybe not to Chevy Volt / Vaux Ampera levels, but good for maybe 15ish miles at faster citybound speeds) and see the figures really tumble. Sub-80g/km and 100+ mpg equivalent in a Golf-class vehicle with decent (~1.4L previous gen petrol) performance would be doable for not much more money than these lot cost, not to mention pretty amazing.
Bought a Astra 1.7cdti (125) and poor mpg a big problem I find is a.. the on board computer is always 4 to 7 mpg incorrect as you think you are doing well but only way is brim fill it up and work out mpg over miles yourself.
b... The car makers give you extra gears i.e 6th so that you can run at faster speeds at lower rpm to give better mpg but if you drive keeping revs under 2000 you seem to fill this diesel particulate filter filling up and it goes onto a cleaning recycle knocking the fuel consuption down, this happens every other week, I drive the car normaly over 4 weeks 4 fill ups 750 miles ave 43.9 my rover 45 2.0 was getting 50+ mpg doing same speeds and roads etc, the overall mpg on this model says 62 mpg and these figures are no were near to true mpg
I know it is not cheap to buy and I know it is not the complete answer yet. Nevertheless, I would be buying a car in the £30k price bracket anyway and the bonus is that the Ampera just happens to deliver about 50 miles of electric driving for £1, before switching to petrol.
It is also well equipped, smooth, quiet and yet surprisingly quick.
citroen c1 scores well compared to the cheaper suzuki alto road tax is £20 a year for both and insurance is cheaper for me in the citroen than the suzuki alto the mpg is about the same for both but the citroen has a better build quality as it is a toyota aygo in disguise they are both city cars but the suzuki has a bit more room thay are capable on the motorway the citroen can be a bit sluggish on hills with more than one occupant and both cars are a bit short on boot space so a split fold rear seat may prove its worth.
the only problem occasionally reported in the citroen being a stiff clutch
incidentally the suzuki alto interior plastics are poor the engine mounts can become noisy and the rear wash tube regularly detaches from the pump resulting in a wet foot (the alto is made in india and to a price) The citroen is made in the czek republic again to a price
I hope this helps in your decision when buying your next petrol sipper
Ok so those are the upsides now for the downsides 0 thats Zero UK dealers nearest one is in France and a UK price conversion of £87.000 to buy means you will have to be very light footed indeed to make the money back. Not so economical then.
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