Real-world MPG: best economical cars

These cars are not just fuel efficient, they're also good all-rounders that are definitely worth a look if you're buying a new car...

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Matthew Burrow
16 May 2016 12:15 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to capture our True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official Government figures generated by laboratory tests, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions.

This round-up features the most economical cars we’ve tested so far that get a What Car? rating of four or five stars out of five. If you want an impressive new car that should do around 60mpg in real-world driving, these 10 models are great buys.

1. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive 5dr – official 85.6mpg; True MPG 63.2mpg

A few cars have returned better fuel economy figures than this Leon, but this is the most efficient car with four stars or more. The Leon is practical, stylish, good to drive and, with this diesel engine, it's pretty fuel efficient, even though it does fall significantly short of the official figure.

2. Suzuki Celerio 1.0 Dualjet - official 78.4mpg; True MPG 62.9mpg

The Suzuki Celerio is well equipped, spacious and cheap to buy, in fact, it’s one of the cheapest new cars on the market. On top of that, this Dualjet version promises to be cheap to run. In our real-world fuel economy tests it returned an impressive 62.9mpg.

Read our full review of the Suzuki Celerio

Real-world MPG: best economical cars

3. Mini Cooper D 3dr – official 80.7mpg; True MPG 62.6mpg

Looking for the best small luxury diesel car you can buy? The Mini Cooper D is now a better buy than even the Audi A1. Ride comfort is impressive, although the small boot and prominent wind noise mean there are more practical and refined choices. Still, few are as cheap to run as a company car.

Read our full review of the Mini hatchback

4. Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI Ultra - official 83.1mpg; True MPG 62.3mpg

The Audi A3 is a former Car of the Year and it’s still a fantastic car. This 1.6-litre diesel is one of the most efficient models in the range. Its True MPG figure of 62.3mpg might be some way off the official figure, but it’s impressive nevertheless.

Read our full review of the Audi A3 Sportback

5. Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI 110 Greenline – official 88.3mpg; True MPG 61.9mpg

If you’re after the roomiest and most economical family hatch you can get on a budget, this is it. Some eco-hatch rivals are cheaper, better to drive or have smarter cabins, but the Octavia Greenline strikes the best balance of costs, practicality and being a pleasant way to travel.

Read our full review of the Skoda Octavia

6. Seat Leon ST 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive – official 85.6mpg; True MPG 61.5mpg

The second Seat in the list is the Leon ST, the estate version of the top car in this round-up. It has the same engine as the hatchback version, but offers more load-lugging capability. That extra practicality won't cost you much more at the pumps; the estate is only slightly less economical than the hatchback.

Read our full review of the Seat Leon ST

Real-world MPG: best economical cars

7. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Eco – official 78.5mpg; True MPG 60.1mpg

This engine is our pick of the Clio range – it’s strong, smooth and economical. The 1.5 diesel is also very refined, which makes the Renault a decent choice for longer journeys. There are roomier superminis, and ones with plusher cabins, but the Clio really isn’t too far behind the class leaders. Go for Dynamique Media Nav trim to get the best value for money.

Read our full review of the Renault Clio

Real-world MPG: best economical cars

8. Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi 95 Ecoflex – official 87.8mpg; True MPG 60.0mpg

The Vauxhall Corsa is spacious, well equipped and cheap to run with this 1.3-litre diesel engine. It's some way off its official fuel figure, but still managed 60.0mpg in our real-world tests.

Read our full review of the Vauxhall Corsa

9. Citroën C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi 115 – official 70.6mpg; True MPG 59.4mpg

French manufacturers have done a great job of getting decent fuel economy out of diesel engines. The C4 Picasso is a stylish, comfortable MPV that has room for five and a big boot. The touchscreen infotainment system takes some getting used to, though.

Read our full review of the Citroën C4 Picasso

10. Hyundai i20 1.4 CRDi - official 68.9mpg; True MPG 59.4mpg

Hyundai’s i20 is a rival to the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia on price, but is more spacious than either of these rivals. It’s let down by a cheap feeling interior, but if you can look beyond that you’ll get a good value small family car with a long warranty that’s cheap to fuel.

Read our full review of the Hyundai i20

Want to find out what you can really expect to achieve on UK roads? Visit whatcar.com/truempg to see the full range of cars we’ve tested. We add new models to our True MPG database every week.