What Car?'s top economical cars
To reflect this, we've compiled a list of our favourite cars – including hybrids, superminis and small family cars – with average economy of more than 70mpg.
Our list uses Government average economy figures, but if you want to find out the cars' real-world economy figures, you can check them out with What Car?'s True MPG Calculator.
The Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt
These range-extender vehicles are the most efficient cars on sale – combining battery power with a petrol-powered generator – and offer claimed average economy of 235mpg.
The electric motor always drives the wheels, while the petrol engine charges the batteries when required. This system helps to alleviate the 'range anxiety' that afflicts drivers of fully electric vehicles. The Ampera and Volt are comfortable, refined cars, but the high purchase price – around £34,000 including the Government grant for such cars – is a significant barrier to ownership.
Other than the Ampera and Volt, all the cars on our list are diesel-powered.
Of the non-plug-in hybrids, the best performer is the Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 95 Econetic. The Fiesta is our 2013 supermini of the year and with this engine it has average economy of 85.6mpg. The Fiesta is good to drive, comfortable and stylish – and Ford dealers are willing to give good discounts.
Both the Mini One D and Mini Cooper D average 74.3mpg. They're good-looking, premium products that have refined engines, a good ride and great handling.
Small family cars
The small family car category offers many economical models and the A3 heads our list in this segment.
Our 2013 Car of the Year offers a great drive and the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine gives average economy of 74.3mpg. The A3 has a well-appointed cabin, good resale values and is highly desirable.
Fitted with the 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine, the Hyundai i30 returns 74.3mpg. It's a well-finished, good-looking car.
The Kia Ceed represents great value for money. It has lots of room, a quality cabin and plenty of kit. However, it is not as good to drive as its European rivals. The 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine – as found in the Hyundai i30 – averages 76.3mpg.
The Seat Leon also benefits from the VW Group's 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine, with an average economy of 74.3mpg. It offers solid handling, with a practical, user-friendly cabin. It's good value, too.
The Skoda Octavia offers a huge amount of cabin space and a cavernous boot. It has a high-quality cabin, good levels of standard equipment and is great to drive. Again, this VW Group car has average economy of 74.3mpg with the 104bhp 1.6 diesel.
The Volkswagen Golf is a brilliant car. It's refined, comfortable, well-built and practical. It's also available with the VW Group's 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine and offers the same 74.3mpg
The Volvo V40 is a smart, good-looking family car. It has strong, smooth engines, a high-quality cabin and an excellent roster of safety equipment. The 1.6 D2 engine returns average economy of 78.5mpg.
These cars are good to drive and cheap to run. Check What Car?'s True MPG to find out the fuel economy you can expect, based on your driving style.
By Matthew Burrow
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