Real MPG: most economical estate cars

What Car?'s Real MPG tests show what fuel economy you can really expect from a car. Here, we reveal the best and worst performing estate cars we've ever tested...

Real MPG: most efficient MPVs and estate cars

Despite the popularity of SUVs, estate cars remain a smart choice for people seeking a practical family load-lugger. This role means estate cars often clock up big miles, making fuel economy an important consideration for buyers.

Unfortunately, the official WLTP economy figures quoted by manufacturers don’t always reflect what you can expect in the real world. That’s why we conduct our unique Real MPG tests – to provide a more accurate picture of the fuel economy your car can really achieve.

Diesel power has traditionally been the top pick for the budget-conscious estate car driver. Indeed, the most economical estate car we’ve tested to date is the diesel version of the excellent Skoda Superb Estate, which won our coveted Estate Car of the Year award eight years in a row.

However, it might surprise you to know that four of the 10 most economical estate cars on this list are fitted with petrol engines – and a further two are hybrids. So, read on to find out which estate cars should cost you the least to run, and which performed the worst in our tests.

How we test for a car's Real MPG

Our Real MPG tests are carried out at a rolling road under laboratory conditions. That means that variables such as weather or traffic conditions don't affect our results – making them repeatable – however, the route the cars take is based on one in the real world.

Every test car is weighed and has its tyre pressures checked, plus we fit an exhaust connection to allow the car's emissions to be measured. The car's internal climate is set to 21 degrees or, if it has manual air conditioning, the temperature is set to its midway point, and the fan speed to its lowest setting. We turn off the headlights and any other electrical equipment, such as heated seats or the stereo.

In the test, we sample each car's tailpipe emissions every second. The Real MPG scores you see in this story are calculated from an average of those results.

Find out more about how we test for Real MPG >>