Real-world MPG: best economical cars

What Car?’s technicians drive new cars every week to capture our True MPG fuel economy data. Unlike official Government figures generated by a laboratory test, the numbers we publish are gained from real-world conditions.

This round-up features the most economical cars that we’ve tested so far, which get a What Car? rating of four or five stars out of five. If you want an impressive new car that should do around 60mpg in real-world driving, these 10 models are great buys.

1. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive 5dr – official 85.6mpg; True MPG 63.2mpg

A few cars have returned better fuel economy figures than this Leon, but this is the most efficient car with four stars or more. The Leon is practical, stylish, good to drive and, with this diesel engine, it’s pretty fuel efficient, although it does fall significantly short of the official figure.

2. Mini Cooper D 3dr – official 80.7mpg; True MPG 62.6mpg

Looking for the best premium diesel small car you can buy? The Mini Cooper D is now a better buy than even the Audi A1. Ride comfort is impressive, although the small boot and prominent wind noise means there are more practical and refined choices. Still, few are as cheap to run as a company car.

3. Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI 110 Greenline – official 88.3mpg; True MPG 61.9mpg

If you’re after the roomiest and most economical family hatch you can get on a budget, this is it. Some eco-hatch rivals are cheaper, better to drive or have smarter cabins, but the Octavia Greenline strikes the best balance of costs, practicality and being a pleasant way to travel.

4. Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC – official 74.3mpg; True MPG 61.8mpg

If practicality is your number one priority for a family car, it doesn’t get much better than the Civic Tourer. The huge boot includes a large underfloor storage area for a couple of carry-on bags, and the clever rear seats let you flip up the bases or fold the backrests completely flat. Refinement and rear visibility leave a lot to be desired, though, and the cabin is too cluttered with poorly labelled buttons.

5. Seat Leon ST 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive – official 85.6mpg; True MPG 61.5mpg

The second Seat on the list is the Leon ST, the estate version of the top car in this round-up. It has the same engine as the hatchback version but offers more load-lugging capability. That extra practicality won’t cost you much more at the pumps; the estate is only slightly less economical than the hatchback.

6. Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi 100 – official 83.1mpg; True MPG 60.1mpg

Few family hatchbacks stand out as much as the C4 Cactus. The Citroen’s SUV styling and airbumps on the doors turn heads and serve a practical purpose, protecting the bodywork from minor bumps. It’s also comfortable and cheap to run, thanks to weight-saving techniques.

7. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Eco – official 78.5mpg; True MPG 60.1mpg

This engine is our pick of the Clio range – it’s strong, smooth and economical. The 1.5 diesel is also very refined, which makes the Renault a decent choice for longer journeys. There are roomier superminis, and ones with plusher cabins, but the Clio really isn’t too far behind the class leaders. Go for Dynamique Media Nav trim to get the best value for money.

8. Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi 95 Ecoflex – official 87.8mpg; True MPG 60.0mpg

The Vauxhall Corsa is spacious, well equipped and cheap to run with the 1.3-litre diesel engine. It’s some way off its official fuel figure but still managed 60mpg in our real-world tests.

9. Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi 115 – official 70.6mpg; True MPG 59.4mpg

French manufacturers have done a great job of getting decent fuel economy out of a diesel engine. The C4 Picasso is a stylish, comfortable MPV that has room for five and a big boot. The touch-screen infotainment system takes some getting used to, though.

10. Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDI 110 Greenline – official 88.3mpg; True MPG 59.4mpg

A cavernous boot and roomy cabin make the Octavia Estate practical while efficient engines help keep running costs low. The classy cabin and the decent level of standard equipment add up to make this an even more tempting proposition.

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