Real-world MPG: cheap cars that are cheap to run

All these cars have a Target Price of less than £10,000 and a True MPG of more than 40mpg
  • Dacia Sandero

    Dacia Sandero

  • Peugeot 108

    Peugeot 108

  • Suzuki Swift

    Suzuki Swift

  • Volkswagen Up

    Volkswagen Up

  • Vauxhall Corsa

    Vauxhall Corsa

  • MG3

    MG3

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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 city cars and small hatchbacks with a Target Price of less than £10,000, according to our tests.

The list is mostly populated with small petrol engines, although there is one 1.5-litre diesel engine. All the cars achieve at least 40mpg, with the first four bettering 50mpg.

Most economical cars for less than £10k:

1. Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi – 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 – 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 – 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. Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ2 5dr – official 56.5mpg: True MPG 51.7mpg

The Suzuki Swift is a smart-looking supermini that handles neatly. It's also well priced and has lots of equipment for the money. It's not as refined as other cars in the class. However, it should prove cheap to run and was able to get very close to its official economy figures in our real-world testing.

5. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 Greentech SE 5dr – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 2015 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. Vauxhall Corsa 1.2i 70 Sting 3dr – official 52.3mpg: True MPG 40.6mpg

The Corsa is spacious, well priced and most versions are also generously equipped. This entry-level model doesn't get air conditioning but should prove cheap to run.

10. MG3 1.5 3Form Sport – official 48.7mpg: True MPG 40.2mpg

The MG3 is cheap, well specced and has enough room for four adults to get comfortable. Running costs are low, but because it depreciates steeply it will end up costing more to run than its rivals in the long term.

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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