True MPG: most efficient cars with 1.0-litre engines
What Car?'s True MPG tests show what you can really expect from a car, and here we reveal the cars with 1.0-litre petrol engines that perform best. If you're a new driver or just want to downsize...
The official MPG figures published in sales brochures can tempt you into buying a particular car, but those results are often misleading. Fortunately, What Car?'s True MPG tests reveal what sort of fuel economy you can 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.
Today, we're looking at the most efficient cars with 1.0-litre petrol engines. These engines are perfect if you're a new driver, if you don't cover many miles in a year or if you just want to downsize and reduce your running costs. And don't go thinking that they exist only in the smallest models, because our top 10 includes family cars and small hatchbacks as well as city cars.
The 10 most efficient cars with 1.0-litre engines:
10. Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110
True MPG 49.7mpg
Ask 10 people to name a family car and chances are most of them will mention the Volkswagen Golf. It's consistently among the most popular new cars sold in the UK, and with good reason: with such a wide range of engines and versions on offer, there's a model to suit everyone. This generation is now off sale, but we'd expect the new 1.0-litre to be at least as frugal.
9. Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi
Town True MPG 50.3mpg
We like the Kia Rio's refined range of engines, and this 1.0-litre turbo petrol should suit you well if you live in the city. The Rio is also well equipped, with even entry-level versions getting air conditioning, Bluetooth and electric windows.
8. Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95
True MPG 51.1mpg
The Volkswagen Polo is the best small car you can buy, thanks to a superb interior that's surprisingly spacious, a peppy range of engines and impressive refinement. And as our tests show, it's also highly efficient in 1.0-litre turbo petrol form.
7. Seat Leon 1.0 TSI 115
True MPG 53.1mpg
The Leon is an appealing family hatchback, offering tidy handling, low running costs and plenty of equipment on most trim levels. There's more wind and road noise than you'll find in rivals, but it's an interesting alternative to many of the class leaders. Just bear in mind that it will be replaced soon.
6. Kia Picanto 1.0 T-GDi
Town True MPG 53.3mpg
Our reigning city car champion – and the second Kia to feature on this list – offers tidy handling, a good-size boot by the standards of the class and excellent infotainment on upper trim levels. It's good to drive and reasonably practical, too.
5. Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI 90
True MPG 53.7mpg
The Volkswagen Up is fundamentally the same car as the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo but adds an extra dash of luxury inside. It's good to drive, especially in town, and has an economical range of three-cylinder turbo petrol engines, of which this 89bhp version is our favourite.
4. Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95
True MPG 54.0mpg
The Seat Ibiza is a brilliant small car. It's deceptively spacious, offers a range of peppy engines that are also economical and is great to drive. In short, it's a fantastic choice.
3. Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI 60
Town True MPG 55.2mpg
Although fundamentally the same car as the Volkswagen Up that we saw earlier on, the Skoda Citigo is cheaper to buy, as well getting better fuel economy from its 59bhp naturally aspirated engine. You'll need to buy used, though, because Skoda has now discontinued this version.
2. Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet
True MPG 55.2mpg
Another car that's no longer on sale but makes some sense used, the Baleno is cheap to run and surprisingly spacious for such a small car. What's more, the 1.0-litre turbo unit feels far peppier than its official figures would have you believe; you don't need to work it very hard at all to make good progress.
1. Volkswagen Up 1.0 75
True MPG 55.9mpg
The Volkswagen Up appears again, with a different 1.0-litre engine than before. Despite being less powerful than the 1.0 TSI 90 we mentioned earlier, this naturally aspirated model is worth paying extra attention to, because it's the most efficient 1.0-litre car we've ever tested. Add in all of the Up's other strengths – namely a smart interior and fun driving experience – and this is a very compelling package.
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