Real MPG: most economical cars for town driving

What Car?'s Real MPG tests show what you can really expect from a car, and here we reveal the models that perform best if you do most of your driving on congested urban roads...

Real MPG: most economical cars for town drivingImage 1 of 21

Whether you live in a city or have to travel into one for work, the chances are that most of us will spend a significant portion of our driving lives on urban streets – and that's a problem.

You see, the stop-start traffic situations with which we are all too familiar can seriously dent your fuel economy. However, you can lessen the impact by choosing one of the cars on this list, many of which are at their most efficient around town.

All of the models in the top 10 returned more than 60mpg during the town portion of our real-world Real MPG test, while the winner – the Toyota Yaris Cross – managed to eke more than 100 miles from a single gallon of petrol.

So, here are the 10 cars that are likely to cost you the least to run in urban areas, plus the three which will have you reaching for your wallet most often.

How we test for a car's Real MPG

The official WLTP and NEDC fuel economy figures that you'll find in manufacturers' sales brochures are often difficult to achieve in the real world. Our Real MPG tests are conducted in a laboratory, and based on a real-world driving route comprising town, motorway and country driving. This makes our tests repeatable and dependable, eliminating variables such as weather or traffic conditions without introducing unrealistic driving scenarios or 'hypermiling' techniques.

To generate a car's Real MPG figure, cars are first weighed and checked over to make sure that the tyres are set to the manufacturer's recommended level. The climate control is set to 21 degrees, or the midway point on the temperature dial if the car has manual air conditioning, with the fan speed at its lowest setting. We also turn off the headlights and any other electrical equipment which might interfere with the results, such as the stereo.

Before the test begins, we fit an exhaust connection which allows the car's emissions to be measured. Once the test begins, those emissions are measured every second, and the Real MPG score is calculated from an average of those results.

Read more: How we test a car’s Real MPG

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