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 By Steve 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 21deg and cars being tested are stored overnight at a set 23deg 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. Kia Picanto 1.0

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

The previous-generation Picanto city car just edges into our top 10, with an average of 53.3mpg. However, the new version is a much better all-rounder; it's sharper and smoother to drive, classier inside and has more comfortable seats.

Read our full Kia Picanto review

Find a great Kia Picanto deal

9. 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 also vastly superior to the old Kia Picanto. And it's even more efficient, managing 53.7mpg on our True MPG test cycle.

Read our full Volkswagen Up review

Find a great Volkswagen Up deal

=6. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60

Official fuel economy: 62.8mpg; True MPG: 55.2mpg; Shortfall: 12.1%

The Citigo is the cheapest of the three city car siblings sold by the Volkswagen Group – the other two being the Up and the Seat Mii. What's more, it's just as good to drive as its sister models and averaged more than 55mpg in our tests when fitted with the 1.0 60 engine.

Read our full Skoda Citigo review

Find a great Skoda Citigo deal

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