The best 20 diesel cars for Real MPG

The reputation of diesels has taken a battering in recent times and you’d be forgiven for thinking that once trusty diesel has become something to avoid. However, after crunching the Real MPG numbers, we’d found lots of impressive models that still prove diesel is best for value.

Indeed, if you choose carefully, you can get a large and capable diesel that will exceed its claimed economy by as much as 20 per cent. What’s not to like? 

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Land Rover Defender 110 SW (1984 - 2015) - 114.0 per cent of official average

The trusty Land Rover Defender has topped Real MPG tables for years. Owing to its age, the Defender precedes the EC laboratory tests that so many modern cars are designed to excel in. As a result the Land Rover exceeds its official claims by 14 per cent. On average it is the 110 SW that provides the best economy, with a Real MPG score of 29.2mpg, which is almost 5mpg more than Land Rover originally advertised. 

Read more about Land Rover's Real MPG performance


John bring back Austin Rover    on 19 September 2016

Can't we have the best diesels re mpg regardless of the claims of manufacturers.
Perhaps Landrover were more honest with the tests, so its ratio of real versus test is very good, but it certainly hasn't got the best mpg!
We all now know the claims of manufacturers in the official figures are pure fiction and some even more fiction than others, so it would be helpful if Honest John published its figures on genuinely the best cars in a convenient list so potential buyers would have a useful guide.
Hopefully in time the tests will change but a guide is needed now.

Edward Hughes    on 19 September 2016

There is another issue.... many drivers rely on their trip computers to indicate their MPG. In all the Mercs I have had, these are set to show better results than are actually achieved if you use the only reliable measure - full-tank to full-tank. The variance is consistent - 5mpg. Comments from collwagues suggest this is similarly the experience with some other brands.

djmp    on 19 September 2016

Interesting that virtually all the top 20 fuel economy cars are no longer in production.

I agree with earlier contributor that all mog data should include real mog. What Car now does this for all the cars it tests.

And as a contributor has noted full tank to tank is the best method in the absence to us of the type of equipment used by What Car and others.

Chris C    on 19 September 2016

That's not an S Cross - it's the earlier SX4

Peter Gittins    on 19 September 2016

I'm very surprised not to see the Honda Civic 2.2cdti on here. Good size family car, and I regularly get 55+ mpg out of mine, with the best ever of 73mpg on a trip to London and back!

Eric Lowe    on 19 September 2016

I have a 2002 VW Polo 1.9 TDI PD Sport bought new and with 110,000 miles which regularly gives me 60+ mph (using full tank to full tank) cruising at 70 mph where legal but driven sensibly. I can only assume that it is the perfect power to weight ratio and the low pressure PD turbo that gives the high mpg.

J0HNuk    on 26 September 2016

My 2006 2.0 TDCi Focus with 145k on clock was the same. As long as I stuck to speed lmits I'd get 60MPG on way to work (almost all fast A road). My 2016 1.5 TDCi is struggling to match it.

cbr1100xx    on 19 September 2016

It would appear to me that most people post their real world MPG when they take delivery of their new car, which is nonsense as it can take up to 10,000 miles or more to bed in a diesel engine. You always know when a diesel is right when it feels like someone has pulled the plug out.
I have driven Citroen diesels for as long as I can remember having just taken delivery of a new 1.6 120 bhp Grand Picasso auto. My first one struggled at around 45 to 48mpg when new but after 10k it returned between 55 to 65 mpg without any trouble.
True to form, the new one is exactly the same.

Derek Woodhall

EddieB    on 19 September 2016

I have a Dacia Logan MCV 1.5dci which I regularly get 55-60mpg ,but Dacia never gets a mention in
these so called MPG tests

declan88    on 20 September 2016

Idea for Honest John's staff

It'd be nice to have something like a thermometer with best at the top worst at the bottom for mpg. In some ways you wonder if it'd better to list it by engine type as skoda and volkswagen got multiple listing for the same engine.
On the side of the thermometer of if you hover the engine, which cars use that engine could be listed.

DaveWK    on 23 September 2016

Just did 2,500 miles in 2004 Citroen 2.0 hdi C5 Exclusive.
Wirral to Costa Brava return via Folkestone, Rouen, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Roses, Albi, Argenton sur Creuse, Coquelles, Wirral.
Brim to brim fuel calculation which (surprisingly) accords with trip computer.
Driven gently 322 miles from Bordeaux to Roses, achieved 62.2mpg.
Overall mpg 54.4.
Car fully laden too.Suitcases, cabin bags, coolbox, tools, (no k****** sink).
Just approaching 78,000 miles and never missed a beat.
Has all the toys, including moving headlights, lane departure warning, telematics, sat nav ('orrible), video screen, telephone etc.
Probably worth about £1,500.

Pauline Richards    on 28 September 2016

What about a mpg for automatic cars? Or a specification if the review is for automatic or manual? I understand that automatics give a lower mpg

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