Most economical cars

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic
17 Jul, 2015 8:00am

Here are the UK's most economical cars that are available to buy new

Even with fuel prices dropping slightly at the start of 2015, the high cost of petrol and diesel is a major concern to millions. That's why so many new car buyers look straight for the most economical cars on the market.

A model with a high fuel economy figure will help save you money - and time spent filling up. To help you find the top models available now, we've listed the top petrol and diesel models for fuel efficiency.

It's not always best to buy one of these cars, however - this isn't our list of recommendations. A lot of the time you will save more money by going for a cheaper, less economical model. Plus, diesel cars are not fond of short journeys, so you'll likely face repair bills if you don't travel a lot of miles regularly - so it can be better to go for a petrol instead. 

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Official fuel economy figures, as quoted by the manufacturers, are notorious for being inaccurate in the real world. We think they are very useful, however. The official economy tests are standardised, so they don't include variations in driving style, traffic or weather - that means they are comparable, and a higher figure on the tests will likely mean a higher real-world figure, too.

We've decided to focus on non-hybrid and non-electric cars in our list here, as we've already put together round-ups for those models (see links, below). Instead, we’ve concentrated on conventionally-engined cars - especially as they are often much more affordable than their electrically-powered equivalents.

Electric cars do work for some people, though, so if you're looking for ultra-low emission vehicles, we've also got articles on the best hybrid cars, the best electric cars and even the best green cars on sale now.

The UK's most economical cars 2015

Most economical cars: things to consider

Do remember that small diesel cars often boast excellent economy but this may not suit your lifestyle. Small city cars are great for commuting into town, but the tiny dimensions and cramped interior mean family trips can be very uncomfortable indeed - and there won't be much space for the shopping.

Diesel engines are not suitable for short trips, but work best for motorway travel - and small petrol engines are the opposite, working well in the city and getting noisy on faster roads. Also, diesel cars are usually more expensive than their petrol equivalents and are more costly to fill up. So if you don't cover long distances, a petrol car could make more financial sense.

You need to think carefully about which car will suit your needs best before you make a decision, rather than thinking purely about the fuel economy.

Ford Focus ECOnetic front tracking

Most economical cars: the best of the rest

The cut-off point for our most economical cars list is an astonishing combined cycle return of 85.6mpg. Below that sit a cluster of fantastic cars that average over 80mpg but didn't quite make it into the fuel efficiency hall of fame. Any one of them should still be seriously cheap to run. Here's the best of the rest...

Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDi Airdream - 83.1mpg
Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi - 83.1mpg
Ford Focus ECOnetic - 83.1mpg
Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDi - 83.1mpg
Volvo V40 D2 - 83.1mpg
Skoda Fabia Greenline Estate 1.2 TDI - 83.1mpg

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For an alternative look at the most economical cars on the market today, visit our sister site

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I'm surprised not a single petrol car made the Autoexpress list of efficient cars. Ford, Peugeot and Renault's small turbocharged petrol engines are quite efficient and so is VW's cylinder deactivation technology. Bring petrol car's lower price and cheaper fuel price in the equation and these new petrol cars make more sense than diesels which are clattery and noisy more so in small cars. So muh for thinking out of the box.

Not really when the thermal efficiency of diesel is 60%+ and petrol barely 30%. Basically petrol turns most of its energy into heat which is waste. Diesels are the power source of the future, they give much bigger low down torque, lower revs when cruising, bigger mpg, and can run on vegetable oil.

Petrol hybrids are massively damaging, those batteries rare metals come from somewhere, and on pure petrol power barely do 45mpg, less than my 8yr old diesel, and a lot slower.

The new vauxhall volt is a joke, unless you plug it into the mains which uses coal fired power stations, it's fuel economy is laughable.

Thanks for your reply. The Autoexpress Most Economical Cars list does contain two hybrids albeit towards the bottom end of the list. In my comment I questioned the absence of petrols from this list. Ford's new 1L turbocharged unit in Fiesta should deliver around 60mpg. Same goes for Peugeot's new 1L turbocharged unit in 208 and Renault's 0.9L and 1.2L units in the upcoming Clio. Then there's VW's 1.4L TSI engine with cylinder deactivation technology. All these units in these cars should be able to deliver around 60mpg. But Autoexpress just ignored them. I was merely questioning the logic of this omission.

Diesels in small cars make no sense in this day and age.. With the introduction of Euro 6 and the continued premium of diesel over petrol, makes diesel even less less relevant.

I would prefer a little diesel to a normally aspirated small engine any day.

Much more useful for zipping about without looking and sounding like a chav.

You're right about cost though. If only they'd bring the prices down.

why no mention of the new 1.6l i-dtec honda civic..?
78mpg. 94grms co2..

Would still have a Petrol or Hybrid. Not a fan of Diesels.. even in small cars

Well said

The vehicle at it's idle time it has to get the energy from Sun Power / Wind Power i.e. in all possible ways to store that energy, after it is to used while it is in motion in order to save the expenditure of it's owner.

Hi I agree with Fadyady, well said Petrol are the future, while we will need to charge our electric cars and use the grid how is that green or lets have a Hybrid,they have the worst engines ever what with 6 or so batteries placed somewhere that would be better empty so you could get that extra head room or save on weight and lets not forget these batteries are not great we still have a long way to go in storing any kind of energy,
Diesel engines no matter what still are chucking small particles of burnt carbon so we can all enjoy the sweet smell and breath it in, Petrol has a new lease of life and there is plenty more to come from our little 1.0 turbos, yeah lets stick a dump vavle in for good measure ! it all saves fuel LOL
Heat exchange from a Petrol engine is more for 1 thing its half the weight of the same size block of a Diesel,
The first 3 letters of both
i know which i'd rather spend my time on !!!!!!!!!!!

This is seems to be a cop out as no one has tested the cars in real conditions and have complied makers testing figures that are more than fancy overated figures

I love my diesel Hyundai I30, in nearly a year of ownership, combined overall mpg is 51.2, 30 quid RFL and £220 insurance, you just can't go wrong and I have yet to use the 5 year warranty.

Great lets talk constantly about diesel cars even though they arnt suited to anyone but motorway milers and clog up expensive particulate filters once every 24 months negating any saving in fuel. Now I cant ride my bike to the shops as every single street in my fairly small seaside town reeks of diesel and burns my nostrils. A 50mpg petrol will do me thanks.

They got the Kia Rio wrong. It does have AC. It also has ISG (Intelligent Stop Go), bluetooth handsfree (including reading text messages to you and giving option of ringing back the sender), trip computer, IPod, USB and Aux sockets. I do mixed running and regularly get 65-70 mpg. So add that all together plus 7 year warranty, zero vehicle licence and exempt congestion charge and I reckon thats a pretty good package.

Fords 1.0 petrol engine is far from economical. Comsumption has been as low as 33.1 mpg in my Focus over the winter. Way below the official 56.5mpg official combined figure .

Paul Neaves What Car has tested the most fuel efficient cars on sale in Britain and as mazza will be proud to see the idtec civic 1.6 comes 3rd overall including all superminis! Yes your eyes don't deceive you-it beat all family rivals hands down including vw's bluemotion-For its size simply the most fuel efficient car on sale in the real world.End of!

What a flat out dishonest and misleading article. It's rubbish to say that hybrids are worse compared to official figures than other cars. Look at Honest John's figures, or Which's fuel consumption tests, or even What Car's. Hybrids achieve in the real world a similar proportion of the official figures as do the most economical diesels. The article should be withdrawn immediately.

Looking at Honest John's site, where real people report real mpg, sampling the Golf, Hyundai & Renault, were all achieving 69 to 83% of the mpg in real life (61, 61.7 & 63mpg respectively). The larger Petrol Prius is not far off at 56mpg and the plug-in is coming in at 75mpg. What a error of judgement in excluding Hybrids and using standard figures (for turning a rolling road in a lab) which is well known to be unachievable in reality (the reason given for exuding the hybrids).

It is brilliant that car manufacturers can deliver engines with such good fuel economy, except the extra it costs to buy one, wipes out the savings, unless you intend to do some serious mileage. If car buyers are looking to cut costs, then they will look across every aspect, the cost to buy, depreciation, service costs etc.

I do not believe these economy figures. I am on my second 1400 diesel Skoda Fabia and I do an eighty mile round trip twice a week and I always drive as economical as possible and I always brim my tank and reset the trip. On different days I have averaged on the computer 80 mpg on,another day 61 mpg,. I have been keeping a log for more years than I care to remember. I would say my average over several months is 65 mpg. Weather conditions make a difference driving in the heavy rain bring my average down considerably, and on a warm sunny weather my economy improves.. I have spoken to several owner's of similar petrol Fabia's and other similar sized petrol engine d cars, they say between 45 and just over 50 to the gallon, That means my little diesel is going between 15 to 20 miles further that a similar petrol engine d cars which far exceeds the fuel price difference.. . .

My Focus Tdci does 88.3 mpg at average speed.

I wonder how economical most of these new diesels are in the real world. My Mk2 Focus 1.6 TDCi consistently averaged high 50s, the Mk3 that replaced (it with an updated version of the same engine) gave low 50s. So much for progress.

60%+??? Haha, that would be a carnot miracle in a vehicle where the engine is a major proportion of its weight. You will only see 60%+ in a ship.

Poor driving.

All these figures are bollocks.
Do your job and test the cars.

Where diesel engines are more beneficial is in relation to green issues, fuel consumption and economy. They have a higher compression ratio and burn fuel more efficiently and diesel is still cheaper to purchase. The additional high cost of purchasing a diesel car however, may deter many customers though. Although the fuel savings are a bonus it will take several years before you see any realistic savings when you purchase a diesel car.

Thanks for sharing! For me I'll go on Chevrolet Spark 800, this is also one of the best economical car for today. The new Spark is designed with latest technologies and offers large space.

You say "You’ll still do well to replicate the official figures on the road but the mpg numbers do provide a level playing field for comparison purposes."
That is nonsese. They provide a level playing field if you follow the test.
However, the test is an average of 39mph over 7km with a warm engine, accelerate to 75mph and then slow down to 33mph and cruise to average 39mph.
So all the test is showing you is how these cars do sitting at 39mph on a clear motorway.
Gear your car for the test and you will get higher MPG figures, but then sit at 70mph on the motorway and that is all meaningless.

We should adopt the US method of testing, every car I have owned has hit their city and highway figures, are test is pointless, not even a good comparison between cars.

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