Real-world MPG: cars for less than £10,000

  •  The most economical cars for less than £10,000
  •  Our True MPG results indicate real-world economy
  •  Mix of city cars and small cars

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What Car? True MPG technicians test new cars every week, to bring you real-world MPG figures, rather than the Government data that comes from a laboratory test.

These are the most economical cars for less than £10,000 that you can buy at the moment, according to our tests. On the list we have a mix of city cars and small hatchbacks.

The list is mostly populated with small petrol engines of between 1.0 to 1.2 litres, although there is one 1.5-litre diesel engine. All the cars achieve at least 43mpg – with the first four bettering 50mpg.

Most economical cars for less than £10k:

1. Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi (£8595) – official 74.3mpg: True MPG 61.7mpg

The Sandero range starts at an astonishingly low £5995, although this diesel will set you back another £2600. Of course, such a low price demands compromises, but if you can stomach the basic level of refinement and comfort, this economical small family car is incredible value for money.

2. Peugeot 108 Access 3dr (£8245) – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 54.6mpg

In Access trim, the 108 is quite basic, but move up to Active trim, which costs £9495, and you get air-conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a 7.0-inch touch-screen. The 108 is cheap to run and easy to drive around in town because of its tiny proportions, but it's also small on the inside, with little space for rear-seat passengers and a small boot.

3. Toyota Aygo 1.0 X 5dr (£7995) – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 54.0mpg

The Aygo shares much with the 108, including its basic body architecture and 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. The most basic Aygo is cheaper that the basic 108 but doesn’t come with much kit. We’d recommend the X-Play model, which is £9795, and gets things like air-conditioning and Bluetooth. However, it lacks the touch-screen of the equivalent 108 Active and comes with the same space limitations.

4. Mitsubishi Mirage 1.0 70 1 (£9054) – official 67.3mpg: True MPG 53.4mpg

The Mirage city car doesn’t have the best on-road dynamics or cabin environment, but it’s relatively cheap, has lots of safety equipment and with a True MPG of 53.4 and CO2 emissions of 96g/km, it's cheap to run and relatively clean.

5. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 Greentech SE 5dr (£9297) – official 68.1mpg: True MPG 49.1mpg

The Citigo is one of the best city cars around – it's great to drive, well-built and cheap to buy and run. Granted, it’s not as classy as the Volkswagen Up, but a five-door Greentech SE model has lots of kit, emits 95g/km of CO2 and costs less than £10,000. That’s a bargain in our book.

6. Volkswagen Up 1.0 60 (£8635) – official 62.8mpg: True MPG 48.6mpg

We love the Up – it was our 2013 City Car of the Year. It’s a funky-looking runabout that’s also economical, spacious and good to drive. This 59bhp engine can struggle on the motorway, but it’s fine around town. You can also get a well-equipped, three-door Move Up model, plus VW’s portable sat-nav from the options list – all for less than £10,000.

7. Seat Mii 1.0 60 S 3dr (£8195) – official 62.8mpg: True MPG 47.1mpg

The Mii is cheaper than the virtually identical VW Up, with the S version starting at just over £8000. Upping the budget to £9995 will get you the i-Tech model, which comes with alloy wheels, sat-nav plus Bluetooth as standard.

8. Hyundai i10 1.0 S (£8495) – official 60.1mpg: True MPG 45.6mpg

The new i10 only just beats 45mpg in our real-world test, but it performs so well in other areas that we named it our 2014 City Car of the Year. Its ride, handling and compact size make it a fine urban runabout, while it’s also remarkably refined compared to all of its rivals. There’s room for four six-footers inside, a decent-sized boot, six airbags and Hyundai’s five-year warranty. The i10 is simply outstanding value for money.

9. Peugeot 208 1.0 Vti Access 3dr (£9995) – official 65.7mpg: True MPG 44.7mpg

The 208 just scrapes into our £10k budget with the basic Access model. Although this version is quite light on equipment, the 208 has more room than some of the city cars featured here, plus it looks chic on the outside and has a high-quality cabin.

10. Fiat Panda 1.2 Easy (£9745) – official 54.3mpg: True MPG 43.1mpg

The Panda is an endearing little car with funky looks on the outside that are carried over into the light and airy cabin. However, it is a little pricy compared to the competition and although the tall design means there’s plenty of headroom, space in the back and in the boot is limited.

We add new models to our True MPG database every week. Visit whatcar.com/truempg to see the full range of cars we’ve tested, and find out what you really can expect to achieve on UK roads.

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