True MPG: best and worst cars revealed

What Car?'s laboratory tests use real-world driving routes to show what fuel economy you can really expect from your car. So, what are the best and worst performers?

Words BySteve Huntingford

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What Car? True MPG

What Car?’s acclaimed True MPG real-world fuel economy tests show what sort of MPG you can really expect from your car.

Tests are conducted in a laboratory to ensure repeatability within 1%, but they are based on a real-world route that takes in town, rural and motorway driving.

The results reflect what's achievable if you’re driving gently and sticking to speed limit,s but aren’t resorting to any unrealistically slow acceleration or special 'hypermiling' techniques.

True MPG is not only fully reflective of real-world performance, but much more realistic than the official government fuel economy figures that car manufacturers have to quote.

The True MPG tests are carried out under tightly controlled conditions: climate control is always set to 21 degrees and cars being tested are stored overnight at a set 23 degrees so they all start with exactly the same engine temperature and in the same ambient air temperature.

Below we reveal the 10 most efficient cars tested so far – and the model that used the most fuel.

The top 10 most fuel-efficient cars tested:

10. Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110

Official fuel economy: 70.6mpg; True MPG: 51.9mpg; Shortfall: 26.6%

When fitted with the 1.5-litre diesel engine that we recommend, the Nissan Qashqai is genuinely capable of 51.9mpg. What’s more, the Qashqai is a quiet, comfortable and stylish choice; it makes a great family car.

Read our full review of the Nissan Qashqai

9. Kia Picanto 1.0

Official fuel economy: 62.8mpg; True MPG: 53.3mpg ; Shortfall: 15.2%

Kia's Picanto city car edges its way into ninth position on our list. It averaged 53.3mpg on the True MPG test cycle, although it's still quite hard to recommend due to its unsettled ride, numb steering and grabby brakes.

Read our full review of the Kia Picanto

8. Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI 90

Official fuel economy: 60.1mpg; True MPG: 53.7mpg; Shortfall: 10.6%

If you're after a city car, the Volkswagen Up is a much better choice than the Picanto mentioned above. It's even more efficient, managing 53.7mpg, plus it's great to drive.

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Up

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