True MPG: most and least efficient family 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 family hatchbacks...
The mpg fuel economy figures published in sales brochures can tempt you into buying a particular car, but those results are often misleading, even with the newer, stricter WLTP regulations now in force. Fortunately, What Car?'s True MPG tests reveal what sort of fuel economy you can actually expect in the real world.
To ensure accuracy and repeatability, we use strictly controlled laboratory conditions, but the tests are based on a real-world route that takes in town, rural and motorway driving.
The results reflect what's achievable if you’re driving gently and sticking to speed limits, but aren’t resorting to any unrealistically slow acceleration or special 'hypermiling' techniques.
Here we reveal the 10 most efficient family cars we've tested so far – plus the one that used the most fuel.
10. Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet 120
True MPG 49.1mpg
Fiat's Ford Focus rival undercuts most family hatchbacks by thousands of pounds, plus this high-powered diesel version combines its impressive fuel economy with gutsy performance. Just bear in mind that the low price is reflected in the quality of the interior and disappointing refinement.
9. Infiniti Q30 1.5d
True MPG 49.2mpg
If you're looking to stand out, the smallest car from Nissan's luxury brand, Infiniti, might end up on your shortlist. But while it's well equipped and efficient, the Q30 is also cramped in the back, it has awful resale values and this 1.5-litre diesel engine is slow and noisy.
8. Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI 115
True MPG 49.3mpg
Unlike the Q30, the Scala is a family car that we're very happy to recommend; indeed, it's our current champion in this class. Why? Well, for one thing, it's very spacious inside for both passengers and luggage. For another, it's good to drive, with a peppy 1.0-litre petrol engine, a comfortable ride and tidy handling. And for a third, it won't cost you a lot to run, averaging almost 50mpg in real-world conditions. What's not to like?
7. Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110
True MPG 49.7mpg
This version of the Golf has now been superseded, although you can still buy new versions from stock. And if you can get a good deal, we wouldn't rule it out, because it blends a comfortable ride with class-leading refinement and a spacious and classy interior. In addition, this frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine is perfectly suited to town driving and accelerates with reasonable urgency thanks to its turbocharger.
6. Toyota Prius 1.8 VVTi
True MPG 50.5mpg
Ask 10 people to name a hybrid, and chances are most of them will mention the Prius. Not only was it one of the first to go on sale, but the latest version combines its high mpg and low tax bills with a very relaxing drive.
5. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid
True MPG 51.8mpg
The Hyundai Ioniq is available as a fully electric car, a conventional hybrid and this plug-in model, which can travel almost 40 miles on electric power before its petrol engine needs to cut in. However, even with the batteries flat at the start of the test, it proved efficient enough to take fifth place on our family car list.
4. Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi 120
True MPG 52.4mpg
The Ford Focus sells in big numbers in the UK, but there's more to this family hatchback than just popularity. It's great to drive for starters, offering truly engaging handling, and if you'll be covering lots of miles, this 1.5-litre diesel engine represents the sweet spot of the range. Not only does it have plenty of pulling power, but its economy means you won't spend too long at fuel stations.
3. Seat Leon 1.0 TSI 115
True MPG 53.1mpg
This is the first of two appearances on this list for the Seat Leon. We've found its turbocharged 1.0-litre engine to be ideally suited to city streets and reasonably punchy on faster roads, but it's not as refined as some of the more powerful four-cylinder petrol engines on offer. It is, however, very economical.
2. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive
True MPG 56.0mpg
When equipped with a 1.6-litre diesel engine, the Seat Leon is even easier on fuel, plus it performs well from low revs, so you don't have to make too many gearchanges. It makes the Leon a particularly relaxing motorway companion. However, it's worth noting that an all-new Leon was recently been revealed and will go on sale later this year.
1. Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex
True MPG 56.3mpg
This version of the Vauxhall Astra is the most efficient family car we've ever tested, averaging an impressive 46.4mpg in town and more than 73mpg on rural roads. If fuel economy is your top priority, but you also want good comfort, lots of equipment and a very reasonably purchase price, look no further.
The least fuel efficient family car
Volkswagen Golf GTE
True MPG 34.1mpg
While the 1.0-litre petrol Golf is frugal enough to take seventh place on this list, the GTE plug-in hybrid finishes rock bottom. However, this isn't as bad a result as it first appears; as with the Ioniq, the GTE's batteries were flat at the start of the test, so it simply highlights how important it is to keep the batteries topped up if you buy a plug-in hybrid. If the idea of getting the cable out of the boot at the end of each journey doesn't appeal, you'd be better of with a conventional hybrid, a diesel or a small-capacity petrol.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Best family cars 2022
What makes a good family hatchback and which models should you be considering? Here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the ones to avoid
Skoda Octavia long-term test
The Octavia has always been one of our favourite family cars, and this latest one promises to be more versatile than ever. Let's see how it fares in day-to-day use