True MPG: most and least efficient cars revealed

What Car?'s laboratory tests use a real-world driving route to show what fuel economy you can really expect. So, what are the best and worst performing cars?...

True MPG - Mercedes GLE emissions test

What Car?’s True MPG real-world fuel economy figures show what sort of efficiency you can really expect from a car.

Tests are conducted in a laboratory under tightly controlled conditions to ensure repeatability within 1%, but they 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.

As a result, True MPG is not only fully reflective of real-world performance, but much more realistic than the official government fuel economy figures that car manufacturers have to quote.

Below we count down the top 10 performers – and reveal the 10 cars that used the most fuel.

The 10 most fuel-efficient cars tested:

10. Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150

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Skoda Superb Estate

True MPG 54.8mpg

Proof that it's not only small cars that are efficient comes from the Skoda Superb Estate. It's one of the biggest and most practical wagons you can buy, yet still returned almost 55mpg in our test.

New Vauxhall Grandland X vs Renault Kadjar vs Skoda Karoq

True MPG 55.2mpg

Renault's Kadjar SUV is closely related to the hugely popular Nissan Qashqai, but it’s a slightly more fuel efficient choice, being capable of more than 55mpg in real-world driving if you go for the 1.5-litre diesel engine.

Read our full Renault Kadjar review >>

=7. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60

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Used test: Fiat 500 vs Skoda Citigo

True MPG 55.2mpg

These days the Citigo is offered only as a fully electric car, but if you're buying used it's often cheaper than its petrol sister cars – the Up and the Seat Mii – despite being just as good to drive. Just bear in mind that this engine feels rather underpowered once you're outside the city limits.

Read our full Skoda Citigo review >>

= 7. Suzuki Baleno 1.0

2016 Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet review

True MPG 55.2mpg

Level with the Kadjar and Citigo in terms of its True MPG result is the Suzuki Baleno. A small yet practical hatchback, it was discontinued in 2019.

New Volkswagen Up vs Hyundai i10 vs Renault Twingo

True MPG 55.9mpg

It's been around for a while, but the Up remains one of the best city cars on sale, thanks to its smart interior and fun handling. This 74bhp 1.0-litre petrol model is the most efficient, but even the punchier 89bhp turbo version returned almost 54mpg in our True MPG test.

Read our full Volkswagen Up review >>

5. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive

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2019 Seat Leon front

True MPG 56.0mpg

The Leon is Seat's answer to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, and in addition to good real-world fuel economy, offers tidy handling and a long list of standard equipment. Just make sure you can live with its rather firm ride.

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

4. Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex

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How to buy your perfect Vauxhall Astra

True MPG 56.3mpg

In the past, we haven't rated the Vauxhall Astra particularly highly, but in its latest form the car is much more impressive. It has a lightweight construction which aids efficiency, plus, it's spacious and well priced.

Read our full Vauxhall Astra review >>

3. Suzuki Celerio 1.0

2018 Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4 auto

True MPG 57.8mpg

Despite being one of the cheapest new cars around until it was taken off sale in 2019, the Celerio came with a decent array of equipment, including air conditioning, a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The only engine option was a pretty lively and extremely frugal 1.0-litre.

Read our full Suzuki Celerio review >>

2. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid

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Suzuki Ignis 2021 front cornering

True MPG 59.9mpg

This version of the Ignis SUV is a mild hybrid, which means a small electric motor works alongside its 1.2-litre petrol engine, helping to get you moving and reducing the strain on the engine. It's front-wheel drive, but even if you decide four-wheel drive is a must, the average True MPG only drops to 53.3.

Toyota Yaris 2021 front

Test MPG  59.93mpg

Hybrid cars don't come any cheaper than the latest Yaris, yet it has the best average fuel economy figure of any car we've put through our True MPG test. It's also well priced and offers perky performance, although there are plenty of small cars that are more spacious.

Read our full Toyota Yaris review >>

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