Have you ever noticed that the fuel economy the manufacturer told you your car would achieve, doesn’t match what you get in the real world?
What Car?’s dedicated team of True MPG testers are working tirelessly to bring you a more realistic picture of things. Our efforts are focused on bringing you the most up-to-date news of which models are truly the most economical cars you can buy.
This week, we’re taking a look at the most economical MPVs that achieve an average of more than 50mpg in the real world. We have a shortlist of 10 examples, which includes both full-size people carriers with seven seats, and compact, five-seater versions.
1. Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi – official 70.6mpg: True MPG 59.4mpg
A roomy boot and seats that slide and fold independently mean that the C4 Picasso is one of the most family-friendly new cars. The sleek, uncluttered dashboard is a seriously classy feature, too. The Citroen isn’t as good to drive as some rivals, but it’s far more spacious, stylish and economical.
2. Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi – official 58.8mpg: True MPG 57.8mpg
We named the C3 Picasso as the best budget MPV in our 2013 and 2014 Car of the Year awards. It has an airy cabin and a large boot, plus most versions ride well on supple suspension. It might not be as good to drive as a Ford B-Max, but it’s still excellent value for money.
3. Renault Scenic 1.5 dCi – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 56.6mpg
The Scenic remains a spacious family car that’s good to drive, with a well-built, well-equipped cabin. There’s a range of fuel-efficient engines, too, including this 1.5 diesel or a punchier 1.6 that uses barely any more fuel. A face-lift in 2013 kept this MPV looking fresh, but the space inside isn’t as flexible or user-friendly as the best rivals.
4. Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi – official 64.2mpg: True MPG 56.1mpg
The Renault Grand Scenic offers two more seats than its little brother listed above, but despite the extra seats, bigger dimensions and a 1.6-litre engine, it still returns over 56mpg. Like the smaller Scenic, it’s good to drive, has lots of equipment and features a high quality cabin. However, the ride isn’t as smooth as some and the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso beats it for space.
5. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi – official 70.6mpg: True MPG 54.4mpg
The Grand C4 Picasso is a stylish, spacious seven-seat MPV with a very practical cabin, which makes carrying the whole family or large loads very easy. Although it’s not the most exciting car to drive, it makes up for this by having lots of neat design touches and high equipment levels on most models.
6. Nissan Note 1.5 dCi – official 78.5mpg: True MPG 55.2mpg
The Note offers genuine space and practicality for a small family. If you’re considering a Citroen C3 Picasso, then this Nissan should also be on your shortlist. It rides well, it’s cheap to buy and has reasonable running costs, too. Refinement could be better, and the cabin isn’t quite as flexible as the Citroen’s, but it’s a worthy rival nonetheless.
7. Fiat 500L 1.6 Multijet II – official 62.8mpg: True MPG 54.2mpg
The 500L has swathes of glass that flood the cabin with light, plus a roomy rear bench and boot, which mean that this is one of the most spacious and practical cars in the mini-MPV class. It has a fairly composed ride and reasonable body control, but it’s a real shame that this little Fiat isn’t more refined and slightly cheaper to buy.
8. Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D – official 62.0mpg: True MPG 52.7mpg
The Verso isn’t the most dynamic MPV on offer, but if your priority is ease-of-use and comfort then it is worth taking a look at. Toyota’s also have a great reputation for reliability, and we’ve heard nothing to suggest that the Verso lets the side down, scoring above average in the JD Power survey. However, it lets itself down with an unrefined engine and reduced boot space with the smallish third row of seats in place.
9. Peugeot 5008 2.0 HDi – official 51.3mpg: True MPG 51.5mpg
The Peugeot 5008 works very well as a family car, with a spacious, well-built cabin that offers flexible, user-friendly seating. On the move it’s refined with a decent ride, while the dynamic ride control that comes as standard on the 2.0-litre means it handles well too.
10. Vauxhall Zafira 1.6 CDTi - official 68.9mpg: True MPG 51.5mpg
The Zafira is a mid-sized people carrier and should definitely be on your shortlist if you're looking for something that's good to drive. However it is feeling its age in other areas, most notably refinement and the versatility of its seating. The availability of strong discounts do help compensate for these deficiencies, though.
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.