Top 25: Best official fuel economy performers
It's probably the biggest issue for many people when buying a new car - what's the fuel economy like? Here we've listed the 25 cars with the best official economy. To see how cars perform in real world driving visit Real MPG.
If there are several particularly efficient models in a range we’ve only listed the most efficient model. Additionally we’ve omitted EVs.
Vauxhall Ampera - 235.4mpg
That amazing fuel economy figure of more than 200mpg sounds almost unbelievable. And that's because it is. The Ampera is a range extended car which means it runs on an electric motor but once the batteries run out of juice, a combustion engine kicks in. However, the engine doesn't directly power the car. Instead it acts as a generator for the electric motor.
The result is a car that can effectively use no fuel at all if it’s kept topped up from the mains. So for the official economy tests it performs incredibly well. However, in everyday driving you won't be seeing anywhere near 235mpg. Plus of course you have to take into account the cost of charging the batteries in the car.
Audi A3 e-tron - 176.6mpg
Unlike the Ampera, the Audi A3 e-tron is a plug-in hybrid. That means it has an electric motor powered by batteries which can be charged from a charging point, plus a standard petrol engine which can work with the electric motor to provide even more power - and range - when needed. It's sort of a 'best of both worlds' solution.
While the A3 e-tron is very refined with all the quality you'd expect from an Audi, it is expensive. Even with the government grant, you're looking at £30k. A standard 1.6 TDI-powered A3 Sportback costs £8500 less.
Volkswagen Golf GTE - 166mpg
While Audi has positioned its A3 e-tron as a refined plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen Golf GTE - which is pretty much identical under the metal - takes a different path. Instead it sits alongside the GTI and GTD as a sporty - yet hybrid powered - hatchback.
It's certainly an intruging model. And it's now slow either. With the electric motor and a 1.4 TFSI petrol engine, the Golf GTE has 204PS in total giving it a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. Of course enjoy all that performance and you won't be seeing anything near the claimed 166mpg.
Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid - 155.2mpg
Volvo has made some impressive strides with its diesel DRIVe technology but the stand out model for official economy remains the V60 Plug-In Hybrid. It's powered by a 70PS electric motor driving the rear wheels with a 215PS D5 diesel engine driving the front wheels.
The result is an economy figure of more than 150mpg but even Volvo admits that you won't get that return in everyday driving. However, if you have a short commute, its 30 mile range could mean you rarely have to use the diesel engine.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - 148.7mpg
While the Outlander is a decent SUV, it's the PHEV (that's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) that has put the model on the map. It uses both parallel and series hybrid systems to drop emissions to just 44g/km of CO2. So it's no surprise it has proved very popular as a company car choice.
It also makes sense as a private buy. It qualifies for the government grant which means it costs from £28,249 - similar to a diesel powered Outlander. There's also a 4Work commercial vehicle version which is ideal for use by businesses having to go into the central London congestion charge zone.
BMW i8 - 134.5mpg
Recently crowned 2015 UK Car of the Year, the i8 has rewritten the performance car rulebook. It shows that genuine performance and driver enjoyment needn't be exclusive from efficiency. There are no big V8s here, just a little 1.5-litre petrol engine borrowed from the MINI. That powers the rear wheels while an electric motor powers the front.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 4.4 seconds - that's Porsche 911 Carrera S territory - helped by a total of 362PS and, more crucially, a huge 570Nm of torque. And it's simply amazing to drive with intoxicating acceleration and a lovely noise.
Toyota Prius Plug-In - 134.5mpg
Toyota pioneered hybrid technology and it's available across its range - including its luxury arm Lexus. It's now gone one better with a plug-in version of the Prius. This boosts official economy to more than 134mpg. Although when you realise this is identical to the BMW i8 that figure seems somewhat less impressive.
Still, the Prius is far more affordable and far more practical too. If you need even more room, there's the seven-seat Prius+, although it's not currently available as a plug-in hybrid.
Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid - 104.6mpg
We've had to wait a long time for the new XC90. A very long time. But after 13 years the Swedish firm has finally delivered its new big SUV. And the results prove it's been worth the long wait. Superbly refined and a joy to drive, the XC90 also has a beautifully finished interior.
While the D5 may be the most popular model, the T8 has plenty going for it. It's incredibly smooth and quiet while emissions of just 59g/km of CO2 mean it will have plenty of appeal to company car drivers or those who venture into the central London congestion charge zone. It's not slow either with 400PS on tap.
Peugeot 308 Blue HDi – 91.1mpg
The Peugeot 308 is the most economical conventional car in this list - and that's mightily impressive. Its claimed figure of 91.1mpg is astoundingly good given it is powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine with 120PS. This means it has more than enough power for easy every driving. There's no compromise for having such good economy.
That said, in real world driving the 308 is falling some way short of that claimed figure. Users on Real MPG are averaging around 60mpg. That's still a decent figure but way short of the official numbers.
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid – 91.1mpg
A hybrid Porsche might sound strange, but as the BMW i8 proves, efficiency and performance can be quite cosy bedfellows. There's also the small fact that manufacturers have to reduce the average CO2 emissions of their range - hence the proliferation of performance brands getting into hybrid power.
The Panamera has great performance thanks to a 333PS engine, yet it’s emissions are so low it is VED free. Impressive stuff – but bear in mind that this car will still drink fuel if you push it hard and it’s hardly cheap to buy...
Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 1.4 TDI – 91.1mpg
Volkswagen gave its popular Polo a revamp in 2014 and while the looks are hardly very different, what has changed is the engine line-up. Alongside a new 1.0 MPI, there's also a new engine for the diesel BlueMotion model. It's now larger at 1.4-litres but is also quieter and - crucially - more economical.
The official figures say it will return 91.1mpg - a 10mpg increase on the old 1.2 TDI BlueMotion Polo. It comes with a Think Blue Trainer, which gives tips on how to drive in a more economical fashion by analysing journey patterns. 'Slow down' is probably a good start...
Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue Drive– 88.3mpg
Hyundai continues to improve with each new model launch and the i20 is its best car to date. It's impressively refined, good looking and easy to drive. True, other hatchbacks are more fun, but few can match the all round qualities of the i20.
It's a bit improvement on its predecessor, most notably in interior quality, but some things remain including a very economical diesel model. The 1.1 CRDi engine in the Blue Drive has been carried over from the previous i20 and returns an identical 88.3mpg along with qualifying for zero tax.
Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi – 88.3mpg
It's no spring chicken any more, but the Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi has exactly the same engine as the new i20 1.1 CRDi. So it’s no surprise that it has the same official economy figures. The Kia is cheaper than the i20 and comes with a longer warranty too, but it doesn't feel as good in terms of quality and it's noisier on the move.
Of couse with the Kia having been on sale since 2011 it's easy to pick up a real bargain on the used car market and there are plenty of one owner and low mileage models about.
Peugeot 308 SW 1.6 Blue HDi - 88.3mpg
While the 308 hatch is the most economical 'conventiionally' powered car on the market, the 308 SW is the most fuel efficient estate. It uses the same 1.6 HDi diesel engine which is refined yet has decent pulling power giving you more than enough performance.
We're big fans of the 308 interior with its decluttered look and small steering wheel while the useful boot has 660 litres of carrying space. The only downside is that there are now only two Isofix mounting points for child seats – the previous generation model had three.
Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 – 88.3mpg
The good looking Clio improves on its predecessor in every way, especially in terms of refinement. The interior has a much plusher feel, although the quality isn't up to the standards of rival hatchbacks. But it's easy to drive and efficient too.
The most frugal is the 1.5 dCi 90 diesel, which manages an official figure of 88.3mpg. That means it’s VED free and while you might not manage the official figure day to day it is realistic to expect more than 60mpg in real world driving.
Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI Greenline - 88.3mpg
When it comes to a common sense car purchase - not much can beat the Skoda Octavia. So while there are few thrills to be had, the Octavia offers a lot of car for the money. It feels well built with a robust interior and of course lots of space thanks to that big boot.
The Octavia is also cheap to run, especially if you go for a Greenline version. This is the Skoda version of Volkswagen's BlueMotion technology and uses the same 1.6 TDI engine you'll find across the Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT ranges. It's a decent diesel too with good refinement and reasonable pulling power.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex – 88.3mpg
The 'new' Corsa may not exactly be new, in fact it's more a revamp of the old model, but Vauxhall has made some significant changes with a much improved interior, an updated chassis and overhauled suspension. The result is a vastly better car.
There are still some issues though. The handling lags way behind the competition so anyone wanting fun in their small hatchback should look elsewhere, but that said it is easy to drive and a doddle to park. The most economical engine is the 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex which now has improved economy of more than 88mpg.
Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion – 88.3mpg
We're big fans of the new Golf - and we're not alone. The latest model has proved hugely popular and it's easy to see why with its blend of comfort, quality and strong engines. But there is a caveat with the BlueMotion model. It's not much more efficient than the regular 1.6 TDI in SE trim – and it’s more sparsely equipped.
That means it’s not the most sensible choice of Golf unless you really want the ultimate fuel economy. On the plus side Volkswagen does offer the Golf BlueMotion in both five-door and three-door body styles.
Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic – 85.6mpg
The most frugal Fiesta loses none of the enjoyable character that makes the Fiesta so great. While we really rate the 1.0 EcoBoost engine, the 1.6 TDCi in the Econetic is the one for outright economy.
Like the rest of the Fiesta range, the Econetic is nimble and responsive on country roads, plus it's small and compact for urban use. It even works well on the motorway thanks to its punchy diesel torque. It’s good on fuel in the real world with owners often bettering 60mpg.
SEAT Leon 1.6 TDI Ecomotive - 85.6mpg
The SEAT Leon is based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, so it's in good company. Of the three it's the one that aims to major on style with a more interesting design than its counterparts. It's also cheaper to buy new so it's little surprise to see this new Leon proving very popular.
The Ecomotive version uses the same 1.6 TDI as the Skoda Octavia Greenline and Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion. Impressively, the Leon is available as a five-door, a three-door SC or an estate, all of which have the same combined cycle economy figure and CO2 emissions.
Citroen DS5 Hybrid4 Airdream – 85.6mpg
The DS5 Hybrid4 has a remarkable powertrain. It’s a diesel hybrid, with electric power sent to the rear and diesel power to the front. It can run as a pure EV for short distances, or it will operate like a fairly traditional diesel car, with a bit of a boost from the electric motor.
Much like the C3 Airdream it has an EGS automated manual transmission and its gear changes can be quite sluggish if you drive with any vigour. A facelifted DS5 was unveiled in early 2015 with Citroen promising improvements throughout, especially the poor ride quality.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid – 85.6mpg
The Yaris was revamped in 2014 with a big overhaul bringing a vastly better interior, a stiffer body and a sharper look - all inspired by the Toyota Aygo. As a result it's a much nicer car, but as before it's real forte is comfort. It's an ideal car if you want relaxed and easy progress.
The hybrid version runs on petrol and has a smooth CVT gearbox, making it a good choice for owners who do short journeys around town. The official economy figure is more than 85mpg, but Real MPG users are getting nearer 60mpg in reality. Still, when you consider the cheaper cost of petrol at the pumps it should be very cheap to run.
Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 – 85.6mpg
While it's no looker - although a facelift in 2014 did help somewhat - the 3008 has proved popular, especially with family buyers. The standard HDi diesel engines are frugal but for the best economy you have to look at the Hybrid4 version.
It actually uses the same system as the Citroen DS5 Hybrid4 but also has the same slow-witted automated manual gearbox. But the biggest issue is the hefty price tag of more than £27k.
Citroen C4 BlueHDi 100 – 85.6mpg
French manufacturers have always been good when it comes to diesel engines and it's no surprise to see several Peugeot and Citroen models in this list. The C4 was recently facelifted and got a much improved interior along with better handling.
Economy also improved and the 1.6 BlueHDi engine is now capable of more than 85mpg according to the official figures. If you want comfort and a stress-free driving experience, the C4 is well worth considering.
Skoda Fabia GreenLine II / Volvo V40 D2
Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDi EGC / Citroen C3 e-HDI ETG
Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid / Citroen C4 Cactus BlueHDi
Focus Focus Econetic 1.6 TDCi / MINI One D
Rounding off our top 25 are a host of cars that all the return the same 83.1mpg. Why you may ask? Well when it comes to calculating fuel economy for the official figures there is sadly no man using a measuring jug and a beaker.
Instead - rather boringly - fuel economy is merely calculated from the CO2 emissions figure. This explains why so many cars in our list have the same fuel economy figures.