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?...
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
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.
9. Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110
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.
=7. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60
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.
= 7. Suzuki Baleno 1.0
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.
6. Volkswagen Up 1.0 75
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.
5. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive
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.
4. Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex
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.
3. Suzuki Celerio 1.0
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.
2. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid
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.
1. Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid
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.