Our True MPG tests tell you what sort of mpg you can expect from your car in the real world.
While the figures published in sales brochures can help to tempt you into a new car, those results can be misleading.
What Car?'s True MPG tests are conducted on a rolling road under strictly controlled laboratory conditions. The route our cars drive is based on real-world driving data across a selection of road types. In short, although the cars are driven in a lab, they're following a real road route we've picked out.
But which are the best-performing cars we've tested so far and which have fallen way short of the manufacturer's claims? In this article, we'll be looking at small cars and city cars – an area of the market where low running costs, including fuel economy, is vital.
In each case below, we've noted the official claimed fuel economy of each car, its True MPG result and the percentage disparity between the two. Read on to find out which are the top performers and which will leave you sitting at the pumps most often.
The most (and least) efficient city cars and small cars
10. Toyota Yaris 1.5 hybrid
Official combined mpg 78.5 True mpg 49.2 % difference 37.3%
The Yaris is well-equipped and there's the option of a hybrid if you're looking for low CO2 emissions. This 1.5-litre petrol hybrid borrows its electric motor and battery from the Prius, but as our results show, the real-world MPG you can expect is significantly different to what the official government tests would indicate.
9. Hyundai i10 1.2
Official combined mpg 57.6 True mpg 49.3 % difference 14.4%
We named the Hyundai i10 as our City Car of the Year at the most recent What Car? Awards, and that's because, when it comes to small cars with big space inside, nothing beats it. The i10 is also quieter than most of its rivals, has a class-leading infotainment system in our recommended Premium SE form and the 1.2-litre petrol engine has enough power to cope with motorway jaunts.
Official combined mpg 68.9 True mpg 51.1 % difference 25.8%
Volkswagen's Polo is a premium car in every sense of the word. Yes, that means it costs more than the majority of its competitors, but it also has a great interior, a strong range of engines and a good amount of space on board. This 1.0-litre petrol is one of nine engine options in the Polo, but the one we recommend is the 1.2-litre TSI.
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