Real-world MPG: most economical family cars

  •  The most economical family hatchbacks
  •  Top petrol and diesel cars
  •  Our True MPG results indicate real-world economy
  • Seat Leon

    Seat Leon

  • Mazda 3

    Mazda 3

  • Audi A3 Sportback

    Audi A3 Sportback

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What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to bring you our True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official government figures generated by a laboratory test, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions.

These are the most economical family hatchbacks you can buy at the moment, according to our tests. We've ranked petrols and diesels separately so you can decide which is better for you.

Most economical diesel family cars:

1. Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC – official 78.5mpg: True MPG 67.2mpg

The Civic with the 1.6-litre diesel engine is the most economical family car that our True MPG team has tested, returning an impressive 67.2mpg.

2. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive Technology – official 85.6mpg: True MPG 63.2mpg

As with many cars on this list, it is the smallest diesel engine that is the most efficient in the Seat Leon range. We reckon the Ecomotive version is worth the extra cash over the standard 1.6-litre car.

3. Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI 110 Greenline – official 88.3mpg: True MPG 61.9mpg

The Skoda Octavia is some way off its official figure of 88.3mpg, but a True MPG of 61.9mpg is still impressive especially considering the size of the car.

4. Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDI – official 88.3mpg: True MPG 60.8mpg

The Peugeot 308 isn't quite as good as its rivals but it does offer a stylish cabin, and with the 1.6-litre diesel engine installed it's cheap to run.

5. Mercedes A200 CDI auto – official 65.0mpg: True MPG 59.6mpg

The A-Class is not the best premium hatchback you can buy, but one thing in its favour is a strong range of engines. This A200 version returned an impressive 59.6mpg, which is not far short of its official figure of 65.7mpg.

6. Mazda 3 2.2D 150 – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 59.4mpg

Mazda's Skyactiv technology is designed to minimise fuel consumption. In the 2.2D version of the Mazda 3 it appears to be doing just that.

7. Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion – official 88.3mpg: True MPG 56.8mpg

The Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion's True MPG rating is a decent 56.8mpg, but it is a long way off the promised official figure of 88mpg. If you are a private buyer we'd recommend taking a look at a petrol version instead.

8. Volvo V40 1.6 D2 – official 72.4mpg: True MPG 56.8mpg

The D2 engine in is the pick of the range because it keeps the purchase price low while offering decent fuel economy – 56.8mpg in our tests. The bigger D3 engine is almost as efficient, with a True MPG result of 56.6mpg.

9. BMW 118d – official 62.8mpg: True MPG 56.7mpg

The only rear-wheel-drive family hatch on the market. The 118d returned 56.7mpg in our True MPG tests, making it a great choice for company car buyers.

10. Citroen DS5 1.6 BlueHDi – official 70.6mpg: True MPG 54.9mpg

The Citroen DS5's looks certainly make it stand out from the rest of the class. With a True MPG of 54.9mpg it should be cheap to fuel, but bad residuals mean it's not the best buy in the long term.

Most economical petrol family cars:

1. Peugeot 308 1.2 e-THP – official 64.2mpg: True MPG 49.6mpg

The Peugeot 308 shows that a small engine can be efficient in a family car, with the three-cylinder unit the most economical petrol in this class in our tests.

2. Mazda 3 1.5 – official 55.4mpg: True MPG 47.3mpg

Skyactiv technology isn't just for the diesel Mazda models. The petrol-powered 3 returned an impressive 47.3mpg in our True MPG tests.

3. Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI 105 – official 57.6mpg: True MPG 45.8mpg

The Golf is one of our favourite family cars. Buyers may assume that the 1.2-litre petrol engine will be too small to cope with the Golf, but it performs well and returned 45.8mpg in our tests.

4. Seat Leon 1.2 TSI 105 – official 57.6mpg: True MPG 45.4mpg

Seat's Leon uses the same 1.2-litre petrol engine that's in the Golf. In our True MPG tests it couldn't quite match the figure achieved by the Volkswagen but still returned an impressive 45.4mpg.

5. Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T – official 56.5mpg: True MPG 44.3mpg

Nissan has returned to the family car class after a long absence. The new Nissan Pulsar is spacious, comfortable and also cheap to run.

6. Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSI 105 – official 57.7mpg: True MPG 44.2mpg

You'd be forgiven for assuming that a 1.2-litre petrol engine would struggle to shift the Octavia's bulk. It copes admirably and managed 44.2mpg in our tests.

7. Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.2 TSI 86 – official 55.4: True MPG 44.1

The entry-level Rapid Spaceback is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 85bhp. We'd recommend going for the more powerful 1.2 TSI 105 if your budget will stretch to it.

8. Seat Toledo 1.2 TSI 85 – official 55.4mpg: True MPG 43.1mpg

The 1.2-litre petrol engines from the Volkswagen Group dominate this list. The lower-powered version in the Seat Toledo returned a respectable 43.1mpg in our True MPG tests.

9. Audi A3 1.4 TFSI – official 54.3mpg: True MPG 42.5mpg

A former What Car? Car of the Year, the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI is still a firm favourite. It offers great performance, a classy interior and averaged 42.5mpg in our tests.

10. Mercedes A180 – official 51.4mpg: True MPG 41.5mpg

The A-Class has plenty of fans on the basis of its sharp looks and smart cabin. However, while safety and equipment levels are up there with the best, most versions are disappointing to drive and the ride on all models is far too firm. Still, if you’re sold on the A-Class this petrol engine is the one to go for.

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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