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True MPG: most efficient MPVs and estate cars

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

Most efficient estate cars - True MPG

Estate cars and MPVs can be some of the heaviest cars on the road. Why? Well, many owners will regularly load them full of people and luggage, and that's bad for fuel economy, particularly if you're driving a model that's inefficient. 

To help, most estate cars and MPVs have traditionally been powered by frugal diesel engines, but these days there are also some petrol options and even some estates which are hybrids.

Here, we're using the results of our True MPG tests to reveal which estate cars and MPVs are likely to cost you the least to run – and naming the models which performed the worst in our tests. 

1. The most fuel-efficient estate car or MPV: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI

Skoda Superb Estate front right tracking

True MPG Average 54.8mpg | Town 45.8mpg | Motorway 49.5mpg | Rural 70.4mpg

Not only does the Skoda Superb promise to carry everything you could ever want to take with you, but provides comfort while doing so. The 2.0-litre diesel engine you get here was tweaked as part of a 2018 facelift on the Superb, which made it even more efficient, and in our tests it proved to be the most economical estate car we've ever tested.

Read our full Skoda Superb Estate review or see our latest Skoda Superb Estate deals

Read on to find out how we find your car's True MPG, and see more of the estate cars and MPVs which performed well in our tests, as well as the models which will cost you the most to run.

How we test for a car's True MPG

Our True 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 True MPG scores you see in this story are calculated from an average of those results.

The best of the rest: estate cars and MPVs

2. Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI

Skoda Octavia Estate LT

True MPG 51.5mpg

If you want a car that's spacious, won't cost a lot to buy and little more than pennies to run, then the Skoda Octavia Estate should be on your shortlist. It's ruthlessly efficient if you get it with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, just make sure that you'll be covering enough annual miles to justify getting an engine that drinks from the black pump. If you do, then you'll enjoy punchy performance and phenomenal low-end pulling power.

Read our full Skoda Octavia Estate review or see our latest Skoda Octavia Estate deals

3. Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI 115

Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI 115 SE DSG

True MPG 50.9mpg

Practical, extremely well built and good to drive, the Touran is a fantastic all-rounder. True, it's a bit more expensive than most rivals, but it's worth the extra, especially when you factor in the huge discounts that are available and the fact that this 1.6-litre diesel version is so wonderfully efficient. This engine is no longer available in new versions of the Touran, but there are lots of examples available on the used market.

Read our full Volkswagen Touran review or see our latest Volkswagen Touran deals

4. Peugeot Rifter 1.5 BlueHDi

2018 Peugeot Rifter cornering

True MPG 50.5mpg

While it's not as cheap as the very closely related Citroën Berlingo, the Rifter has a more upmarket feel inside and still has lots of space for your passengers and all of their luggage. It's even surprisingly good to drive. If you need to move a lot of people, it deserves a place on your shortlist.

Read our full Peugeot Rifter review or see our latest Peugeot Rifter deals

5. Suzuki Swace 1.8 Hybrid

Suzuki Swace LT

True MPG 50.3mpg

That the Suzuki Swace is so closely matched to the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports should be no surprise because it's based on that car and uses the same engines. In 1.8-litre hybrid form it's especially efficient, and although its 120bhp won't set any speed records, it's adequate for most situations. We also like that it has a decent boot and comes with lots of standard kit.

Read our full Suzuki Swace review or see our latest Suzuki Swace deals

6. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 2.0 Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 2022 front cornering

True MPG 49.4mpg

Being a hybrid, the Corolla puts low running costs at the heart of its agenda. Indeed, the regular Corolla hatchback is our reigning hybrid champion, but this Touring Sports version adds a bigger boot into the mix, so you can load it to the rafters and still enjoy the benefits of frugality.

Read our full Toyota Corolla Touring Sport review or see our latest Toyota Corolla Touring Sports deals

7. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 BlueHDi 120

Citroen C4 Picasso

True MPG 48.0mpg

Its low-speed ride can be unsettled, but this is still a very capable family car, thanks to its spacious interior (which is packed with handy cubbies) and the fact that its seats are a doddle to fold if you need extra boot space. Most versions come with plenty of equipment, too. The Grand C4 Picasso and the regular five-seat C4 Picasso have both now been discontinued, but there are plenty of used examples available.

Read our full used Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer buying guide

8. Dacia Logan Stepway TCe 90

Dacia Logan MCV Stepway front

True MPG 47.7mpg

Dacia has formed a handy niche for itself over the years, making cars that offer fantastic value. The Logan is no exception, offering plenty of space for your family and all of its luggage at a price that'll will leave you smiling. The 0.9-litre petrol engine you get with this version needs working hard to perform, but it's wonderfully flexible and, as our results show, is fuel-efficient too. The Logan has now been discontinued, but you can find used examples easily enough, and prices start from around £4000.

Read our full used Dacia Logan MCV Estate buying guide

9. Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi 130

Renault Grand Scenic

True MPG 47.3 mpg

Bigger than the regular Renault Scenic model and with two extra seats, the Grand Scenic is a very practical choice for those with larger families. However, it isn't as comfortable or spacious as some rivals, and the best of those are also slightly more efficient. Sadly it's no longer on sale, but you can find examples on the used market.

Read our full used Renault Grand Scenic buying guide

10. Skoda Fabia Estate 1.2 TSI 90 (2015-2021)

2015 Skoda Fabia Estate 1.4 TDI 90 DSG review - DO NOT PUBLISH

True MPG 46.6mpg

The Fabia might be best known as an efficient and spacious small car, but it's also available as an even more spacious estate. This version comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine and offers all the performance you need. Sadly, this engine is no longer available in the Fabia range because the car has been replaced with a new version, but you can find used examples readily enough.

Read our full used Skoda Fabia Estate buying guide or see our latest Skoda Fabia Estate deals

And the least efficient estate cars and MPVs

Those are the models that will cost you the least in fuel bills in the estate car and MPV classes, but what about those cars which are hideously expensive to run? Next, we'll take you through the four models that performed the worst in our real-world tests.

3. Subaru Outback 2.5 Petrol

Subaru Outback 2021 front cornering

True MPG 31.8mpg

If you plan on regularly venturing off-road, the Subaru Outback can take you farther into the wilderness than many rivals, all while carrying an impressive amount of luggage. Sadly, if you'll be staying on Tarmac, it's not a very fuel-efficient choice; its official fuel economy figure is 33mpg and you'll see less than that in real-world conditions.

Read our full Subaru Outback review

2. Volkswagen Multivan 2.0 petrol

Volkswagen Multivan 2022 right tracking

True MPG 30.4mpg

The Multivan is spacious for growing families, and it even represents good value against other van-based MPVs. This 201bhp 2.0-litre petrol-engined version offers swift performance, but it managed less than 30mpg on both the town and motorway portions of our test. 

Read our full Volkswagen Multivan review

1. BMW M340i Touring


True MPG 28mpg

This go-faster version of the BMW 3 Series Touring takes the title as the least fuel-efficient estate car we've ever tested, and by some margin. However, while its thirst may spell bad news for your wallet, we reckon there are still plenty of reasons to love this M340i. It's a hoot to drive, thanks to its terrific handling and 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six petrol engine under its bonnet. Then there's the interior, which is comfy and features one of the best infotainment systems around.

Read our full BMW 3 Series Touring review

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