Cheapest cars to run

Volkswagen up! front action
Credits: Otis Clay
2 Apr, 2014 11:00am Steve Walker

What is the cheapest car to run in the UK? Our list of the top 10 most cost-effective new cars reveals all

How much does your car cost to run? UK motorists tend to be painfully aware of what our cars cost to buy and how much we pay to put fuel in their tanks but these are just parts of a car’s total cost of ownership.

To find out the cheapest cars to run you need to crunch a whole load of numbers. Not only the purchase price and the fuel economy but depreciation, tax, maintenance and repairs all need to be factored in. 

Thankfully, the good people at CAP have done the hard work for us, including all the major car running costs except insurance. Their definitive data tracks every new car in the UK over a typical 3-year 36,000-mile ownership period. The result is this list of the top 10 cheapest cars to run in the UK. 

Top 10 cheapest cars to run in the UK

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1. Volkswagen Up 1.0 Take Up
2. Skoda Citigo 1.0 S
3. SEAT Mii 1.0 S
4. Kia Picanto 1.0 1
5. Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi Ambiance
6. Suzuki Alto 1.0 SZ
7. Peugeot 107 1.0 Access
8. Citroen C1 1.0i VT
9. Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 dCi Ambiance
10. Mitsubishi Mirage 1.0 

The UK's cheapest cars to run 11 to 20

The cars that didn't quite make our top 10 cheapest cars to run are listed below...

Fiat 500

11. Hyunda i10 1.2 Classic
12. Fiat 500 1.2 Pop
13. Ford Ka 1.2 Studio
14. Peugeot 208 1.0 VTi
15. Ford Fiesta 1.25 Studio
16. Skoda Roomster 1.2 TSi limited Edition
17. Kia Rio 1.25 1
18. Hyundai i20 1.2 Classic
19. Smart ForTwo Edition21 Auto
20. Vauxhall Agila 1.0 ecoFLEX Expression

Cheapest cars to run in each market sector

Unsurprisingly, the list of the cheapest cars to run in the UK is dominated by small city cars but there are cheap cars to run in every sector of the market. Below are the cheapest cars to run in each major market sector. 

2013 Skoda Octavia front cornering

City car
Volkswagen Up 1.0 Take Up - £8,433

Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi Ambiance -  £8,707

Executive car
BMW 518d SE - £19,817 

Compact family car
SEAT Toledo 1.2 E - £13,091 

Large family car
Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSI S - £13,873

Skoda Roomster 1.2 TSI Limited Edition - £10,501

Dacia Duster 1.6 Access+ - £11,848

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Peugeots 1.4 hdi unit offers great economy..

No fiat panda?!

It's resale value based - Fiats depreciate ;ike stones, hence no mention. plus their reliability (or lack of it) is still a serious issue looking at their facebook page today. Nothing but complaint after complaint.

I must say I'm stumped. Autoexpress really made a list of cars without crowbarring a Skoda in.

Still going on about that? Don't buy a FIAT, get a VW and bore off!

My Skoda Yeti lost £2600 over two years from new in depreciation making it cheaper to run than any small hatch that I have owned.

But a pre march 2001 car, that way you can pollute as much as you want, and into the bargin the car will not owe you anything when it comes to sell it on as it will now be over 10 years old...that's my best advice, don't bother with silly modern cars with their high taxes and crappy diesel engines, get an old 3.0-5.0 litre and smile.

Hmm - pretty much like VW's Facebook wall last time I looked. Also check out Warranty Direct's reliability index. Fiat is 17th and VW is 23rd.

I recommend this approach too. Bear in mind any experienced mechanic will have fixed most problems you have encountered in the past, especially if you pick a popular car like a Mondeo.

My 2006 Kia sedona SE+ with only 56000 miles lost £17000 when I traded it in last month

Lucky you, my new skoda fabia lost about £3000 in 6-8 weeks!

My 1997 Range Rover P38 cost £5400 (inlcuding a 2 year RAC warranty) in October 2010. I ran it until March 2012 and it was then sold for £5000 (the difference being the cost of the warranty). Who says Range Rovers are expensive to run - use the right supplier/reseller.

what a load of propaganda!! The FIAT 500 and Panda are the best small cars on the market and amongst the best for keeping their value yet no mention of them. Another auto express biased report!!!

until it breaksdown...

Why is this article called cheapest cars to run? It should say 'lowest depreciating cars'.... Ask anyone who has ever owned a range rover for any period of time on a daily basis if it is cheap to run.

I can beat that, my MINI lost in £4800 in 12 weeks. That just happens to be £800 more than my Mitsubishi Colt did in 4.5 years!

Resale values and the residual values the motoring press report are a complete con. All cars loose shed loads of money, bigger brands the most, because they cost more in the first place.

Go Classic...!!

My 1998 Classic mini has fuel injection, airbags, does 40mpg, just cost £29 for new discs and pads and has risen in value in the last 2 years by over £3000

I have to agree, the cost of producing the car and the environmental impact have long since been balanced out.

Must be some Mini another two years and the average mini is in the scrap yard

I have two fiats a camper van and look about 30%of camper vans on road are Fiat and i have never seen one broken down, I also run a 52 plate Doblo di and is no bother at all , 50mpg

Well said!

Old is gold

VW and Fiat are both rubbish

I bought a new Kia Picanto 1.0 Air 12 months ago. In many ways it is fine however FUEL economy is very poor, it averages mid 40s . While I knew the "official" figures were a fairy tale the fact that it gets less than 50mpg is dire for a so called "economical" car. I would not have bought it had I known this . The fact that WHICH and so many other people have the same type of experience suggests it is the norm

The electric car could be a good solution! It's cheap to run and there is no emissions.

Why do people still complain about quoted MPG figures? They are manufacturer tested and achieved under ideal conditions and all car companies do the same so it's a level playing field. You don't take them as real world numbers, you use them as a comparative indication. It's not possible for makers to know your individual driving style, traffic conditions, load and route type and then give you a customised fuel consumption quote, so they all do the best they can possibly prove and then you can compare car A best possible to car B best possible. Simple and fair.

The other trouble with this is, that most of us are always in a hurry and over rev when accelerating, we brake sharply, we drive well over the optimum efficient speeds on highways, all of which increase fuel consumption drastically. getting near to quoted figures is possible in many cars (but not all, as it is mentioned here many manufacturers obtain figures in simply unrealistic conditions). I have even known people (worked with a guy who had a Freelander TDi) to get in excess of quoted figures. It all depends on your driving style, route, journey length, fuel brand, tyre pressure & condition, load you carry, devices you power (air-con, fans, sunroofs, windows etc) all of which we can control but in general do not consider when we just want to get from A-B.

or they could use a more realistic work load to do the tests.
they are apparently going to change them but of course industry will resist change any way it can.

this is true of course. It never ceases to amaze me how much people want to accelerate to that next set of red lights - 200 yards away.

No mental association between gas and brake usage and fuel consumption / brake wear. Weird.

But depreciation is the big thing that is almost never taken into account and generally dwarfs most other bills.

My 22 year old Honda Civic does 35 mpg in city and up to 50 mpg on a highway. No catalytic converter and still manages to pass all emissions tests by a huge margin. Too bad it started to rust away recently. I'm not really concerned about depreciation, obviously.

Er, I might have this wrong -

But i recently gained a Honda Accord from old company stock 2.2 ctdi 190,000 mile 2006 cost £500 bucks.

Its running 60mpg
it runs great
no mechanical problems
Full MOT and Service History
Cheap to tax
Cheap Insurance

it now has 240,000 miles and still going strong so my thought are buy second hand no major loss when buying new.

Just to note on the MPG i have achieved 80mpg on motorway over a 100 mile trip at 65MPH but generally if you boot her it never goes below 55MPG

Good luck all with your motoring...

i had the for runner to this and found if i used the aircon mpg dropped into the 40,s switch off the aircon it would do 55plus big differance over ayears motering

I bought a 3 year old diesel Citroen BX diesel in 1996 for £2800 with 42K on it.
Must admit I am a mechanical engineer so running costs were negligable. I bought up second hand spares so never had to buy new parts apart from oil and filtres.
I sold the car in 2011 with new MOT and a number of spares for £1000 and 178000 excellent miles on it and good for another 200K. Always well below the emission limit too.
Old is bvest.

The best way to compare is to look at the worst consumption not the average or best so you are prepared for the real thing.As you say BeatsPick it is how,where and when is what the consumption will be.How(lead foot)where (city or motorway) when( peak hour?).

About your MPG figures a load of them things between your legs, Er, but I might have this WRONG

Load of rubbish, I live in Spain and drive a Dacia Lodgy with the A/C on nearly all year and get the same MPG with it off and having to use the heating both take the fuel consumption levels down from not using either but not to the stupid extremes you quote.
Bet you are a riot in the bar.

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Too much VW Tendency!!

Buy a 2000-2005 Aluminium Audi A2 1.2 TDI (import) - best investment I ever made - 2001 model with nigh on 200,000 miles on the clock is still road tax free, gets over 100mpg if you are careful (0.25 Cd factor), no corrosion, bigger than an A3 inside. UK A2's still worth a look as well: 1.4 TDIs get 60 mpg and just £35 VED.

The Honda Civic hybrid, Honda Insight, or Toyota Prius the best economical cars and cheap to run. £10-30 for the year.

Fiat 500 is very economic! It is the best small car Ive ever had! Quick, small, nice and suitable for town! Perfect especially for women! Unfortunatelly my family get bigger and we have to sell it so I would like to invite you on WheelDeal where I have my ad!

Can you tell something more about your car? I would be interested in buying it, do you have your offer on wheeldeal? waiting for your reply asap

AEX 1337
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