Have you ever noticed that your car's fuel economy doesn't quite match what you were promised in the brochure?
What Car?’s crack team of True MPG testers are working tirelessly to bring you a more realistic picture of things. Our efforts are focused on bringing you the most up-to-date news of which models are truly the most economical cars you can buy.
These are the most economical estates, and many get a What Car? rating of four or five stars out of five. That means they impress in most – or all – of the key areas, so should be on the shortlist of anyone looking for a practical family car that won’t cost a fortune to fuel.
1. Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC – official 74.3mpg; True MPG 61.8mpg
If practicality is your number one priority for a family car, it doesn’t get much better than the Civic Tourer. The huge boot includes a large underfloor storage area for a couple of carry-on bags, and the clever rear seats let you flip up the bases or fold the backrests completely flat. Refinement and rear visibility leave a lot to be desired, though, and the cabin is cluttered with poorly labelled buttons. The 61.8mpg it managed is very impressive figure for such a practical car.
2. Seat Leon ST 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive – official 85.6mpg; True MPG 61.5mpg
The Seat Leon is a great all-rounder, and the 1.6-litre diesel engine only adds to the package. It uses the same chassis as the Audi A3 and VW Golf, which means that you get a great-handling car with a decent ride, but for less money. There’s also huge boot with a variable-height floor, although this is tricky to adjust. Inside the cabin feels well built, despite some iffy plastics in places.
3. Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDi 110 Greenline lll – official 88.3mpg; True MPG 59.4mpg
The Octavia Estate has a classy cabin and a cavernous boot. All models are predicted to hold their value well, but the 1.6 TDI is the one to go for if low buying and owning costs are a priority. Reliability is a Skoda strong point, and the Octavia placed seventh out of 109 models tested in the 2014 JD Power survey.
4. Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi – official 64.2mpg; True MPG 58.9mpg
The Ceed Sportswagon is one of our favourite estate car for less than £18,000. As with other Kias, it's good value for money, with lots of space and kit for a very competitive price, plus the Ceed avoids feeling like a budget car inside. It also has the Kia seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty to give peace of mind, too. A 1.4 CRDi is also available, which is almost as efficient and even cheaper to buy.
5. Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.8 hybrid - official 76.3mpg; True MPG 58.7mpg
The Auris Touring Sports’ name is a bit misleading, it’s neither sporty nor touring-oriented. What it is is an estate version of the Auris hatchback. The front of the car is unchanged but the body has been extended to increase to an impressive 530 litres with the rear seats up. This model also stands out on this list for being the only petrol-powered car.
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