One of the most important considerations when choosing a new car is running costs, including insurance, tax, maintenance and fuel. Fuel economy, or fuel efficiency, is a measure of how far a vehicle can travel per unit of fuel, or miles per gallon (mpg). Fuel efficient cars are models which require less fuel to travel a given distance, which means they use less oil. Reduced oil use leads to lower global warming emissions, less pollution and lower fuel costs.
Finding a fuel efficient car is more important now than ever before, as the government has set a target to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars completely by 2040, with the aim of producing zero emissions by 2050. In 2018, the average new car in the UK emitted 124.5g CO2/km, up 2.9% compared to 2017 figures. Although this rise is likely due to a more comprehensive test procedure, there’s still a long way to go.
Since September 2018, the fuel consumption of all new cars has been measured using the official EU test procedure called the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP). All new models are subject to a range of safety and environmental tests before they can be sold – one of which determines the official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
So whether you’re looking to buy or lease a new fuel efficient car, or reduce the fuel consumption of your current model, our blog has all the information you need.
It’s no surprise that all-electric vehicles are the most economical, but if you’re looking for the best mpg from a petrol or diesel car, you may not know where to start. Our list reveals the top ten cars with the best fuel economy to help you find the right model price for you:
Vehicle Make and Model
Miles Per Gallon (MPG)
There are many ways to cut down fuel consumption regardless of your car’s make or model. Some methods will require changes in driving habits, while others involve maintenance. The best way to reduce fuel consumption is to drive only when you need to – avoid driving short distances that you could walk or bike instead. When you are driving, you should check that your fuel cap is secured tightly. You may not be getting the mileage that you expect because you’re losing fuel due to evaporation.
You should also avoid idling wherever possible, as your engine is running but your mileage is zero. This wastes more fuel than starting the engine. Always try to drive as near to the speed limit as possible and apply steady and consistent pressure to the accelerator rather than revving. If you can, use cruise control to reduce the amount of work your engine is doing. Although every car make and model has an optimal travelling speed, as a rule, the faster you drive the worse your gas mileage will be.
More UK drivers are making the shift towards electric cars than ever before, with a total of 2,461 EVs sold in July 2019 alone. Generally, electric vehicles convert around 60% of the electrical energy to power at the wheels, making them some of the most energy efficient models on the market. The most economical electric cars include:
The 40kWh Nissan Leaf has a 0-60mph of 7.9 seconds and 40bhp more than its predecessor. The 62kWh model has a top speed of 98mph to propel the car to 60mph in 7.3 seconds. The smaller battery has a range of 168 miles, while the larger model claims 239 miles.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla’s Model 3 has a 0-60mph of just 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. Three versions are available, with the entry-level Standard Range Plus capable of 258 miles from a full charge, while the Long Range AWD and Performance versions have an extra motor to claim 348 and 329 miles of range respectively.
Considered to be one of the best small premium EVs on the market, the BMW i3 reaches 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. The regular model has 168bhp and utilises a 22.6kWh battery, while the i3s variant is even faster thanks to an extra 13bhp.
Plug-in hybrids have a larger battery than conventional petrol, diesel or electric models, which allows them to run for an extended number of miles on battery, before switching to conventional fuel. This reduces tailpipe emissions and improves their fuel economy. Some of the most economical plug-in hybrids on the market are:
The Toyota Prius has a claimed MPG of 94.1 and CO2 emissions of just 70g/km, resulting in a benefit-in-kind rating of 13%. It couples a 1.8-litre petrol to a hybrid battery pack, which is paired with a smooth CVT automatic transmission.
The Hyundai Ioniq achieves 83.1mpg and emits 84g/km of CO2, thanks to its aerodynamic design and drag coefficiency. It utilises a 1.6-litre engine paired with a hybrid system and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. There’s also an electric variant for those who prefer it.
The BMW i8 is powered by a 129bhp electric motor which covers 34 miles when fully charged. Once depleted, it switches to a 1.5-litre petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox to produce 228bhp. This takes the i8 from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds.
Most efficient petrol cars are small and city cars, but it is possible to find economical family cars and SUVs. Although diesel cars are more favourably thought of than petrol when it comes to fuel economy, manufacturers are looking to reduce emissions across the board to meet government targets. These are some of the most economical petrol cars on the market:
The Peugeot 108 is only available with petrol engines, with the entry-level 1.0-litre variant propelling the car to 62mph in 13 seconds. The increased power output of the 1.2-litre engine with 81bhp takes 10.9 seconds to reach 62mph. The 1.0-litre engine has emissions of just 88g/km.
The VW up! offers four 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, one with 59bhp, one with 74bhp, a turbocharged variant with 89bhp and finally a 113bhp. All engines are available in stop-start form, which improves fuel economy and reduces CO2 emissions. There’s also an all-electric version called the e-Up.
The Kia Picanto has three engine choices, starting with the non-turbo 1.0-litre model with 66bhp and topping out with a three-cylinder turbocharged unit. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard. Kia claims an mpg of 50.4 and CO2 emissions of 128g/km.
Although car buyers are increasingly making the switch from diesel to alternative fuels, diesel is still a top choice for low running costs and improved fuel economy. Some of the best diesels on the market when it comes to fuel efficiency are:
The 208 is an efficient supermini which can manage up to 53.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 93g/km with the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol. As a diesel, the fuel efficiency rises to 71.4mpg and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.
The cleanest and most efficient engine in the Volvo V40 range is the 2.0-litre diesel, which returns 56.5mpg of fuel economy with a manual gearbox. With an automatic gearbox the engine returns 52.3mpg and 118g/km. The D2 variant produces 118bhp, while the D3 pushes this up to 148bhp.
The Audi A5 won WhatCar?’s Coupe of the Year for 2019 award, with the 2.0-litre model claiming 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 118g/km. Optional four-wheel-drive sees the fuel economy drop to 46.3mpg, and the A5 is also available with petrol engines for those who object to diesel.
More fuel-efficient cars aren’t the best option for everyone, as it depends on your other driving requirements. However, the economy of cars is set to improve over time on the whole due to an increased focus on reducing CO2 emissions. You may even be surprised to find out how fuel efficient the latest generation of your current car is, or what alternatives are available from top manufacturers.
At AMT, we’re committed to providing a service that’s tailored to you. If you want to make driving your dream car a reality or discuss models with the best fuel economy, contact our dedicated team to discuss your lease requirements on 0113 387 4241.