MPG heroes - Small family cars

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  • 11 categories tested
  • The right car for you
  • Over 40 cars to choose from
MPG Hero
Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 110 Style 5dr
Target Price £13,752
Economy — Average 62.7mpg; Out of town 74.2mpg;
In town 50.4mpg

Our Green Car of the Year isn’t just kind to the planet — it’s easy on the pocket, too. The Focus is famously fun to drive and great value, especially considering the big discounts available. You can buy an Econetic version that’s even more economical, but you’ll have to do well over 60,000 miles to make back the extra £250 it costs to buy. We’d stick with the nicely generous Style trim, too.

Best for space
Skoda Octavia Estate1.9 TDI Classic
Target Price £13,586
Economy — Average 55.4mpg; Out of town 64.2mpg;
In town 43.5mpg

The Octavia’s loadbay is big but, thankfully, the price isn’t. This 1.9-litre diesel version does the most miles per gallon, with a decent average of 55.4mpg. There’s no need to go higher than entry-level Classic trim, either — it gets climate control, electric front windows and a CD player as standard.

Image conscious
BMW 118d SE 3dr
Target Price £19,087
Economy — Average 62.8mpg; Out of town 70.6mpg;
In town 52.3mpg

BMW’s Efficient Dynamics systems have proved that excellent economy doesn’t have to mean shoddy performance — the 118d will get to 62mph in under nine seconds. Yes, it isn’t cheap, but then nothing with a BMW badge on the nose is. You’ll get a lot of money off if you haggle, and quite a bit back when you come to sell.

Auto option
Toyota Prius 1.5 VVT-i T3 5dr
Target Price £16,722
Economy — Average 65.7mpg; Out of town 67.3mpg;
In town 52.5mpg

The Prius is probably best avoided if you spend most of your time on the motorway, but at lower speeds in town its electric motor helps the relatively small petrol engine to boosts its fuel economy. You get a CVT automatic gearbox as standard, and this entry-level T3 model comes with alloys and climate control.

Budget buy
Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D T2 3dr
Target Price £12,312
Economy — Average 56.5mpg; Out of town 62.8mpg;
In town 48.7mpg

The Auris might not be the cheapest small family car to buy but, all things considered, it’s just about the most cost-effective. As well as excellent economy, the Toyota should hang on to its value well, plus it’s cheap to insure.

Motorway cruiser
Audi A3 1.9 TDIe 5dr
Target Price £16,191
Economy — Average 62.8mpg; Out of town 74.3mpg;
In town 48.7mpg

The A3’s superb out-of-town economy and excellent refinement makes it ideal for the motorway. This ‘e’ model uses long gearing, low rolling-resistance tyres and aerodynamic tweaks to keep fuel consumption down. The low CO2 output means you’ll pay only £35 a year in tax.


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