Most efficient petrol cars

Dodge diesel without paying the price at the pumps: here are the most efficient petrol cars, from superminis to SUVs

Dominic Tobin
Jun 9, 2017

You might be worried about air pollution, the possibility of diesel taxes or simply prefer quieter and smoother performance. Whatever the reason, buying a petrol car doesn't always mean sky-high fuel bills.

Modern petrol engines are a genuine alternative to diesels - especially in smaller cars, where they are more suited to city driving, almost as efficient and usually much cheaper to buy or finance. Efficient mpg figures also means low carbon dioxide emissions, which results in cheaper company car tax.

If you're looking for a petrol car that's cheap to run, then you'll find it in this comprehensive guide. We've started by ranking the ten most efficient petrol cars that are currently being sold, based on official mpg figures.

Continue down the page for the most frugal models in different categories, from city cars to SUVs, or click below to search for prices on all of the most economical petrol cars.

 

Most efficient petrol cars

*The Citroen C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo use the same mechanical parts and all recorded 68.9mpg; the same is true of the VW up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii.

The list above doesn't include hybrid cars, which offer the ultimate in petrol-powered efficiency. By recovering energy that's normally lost during braking, and using it to power a motor, hybrids reduce the power needed from the engine, offering fuel savings reduced emissions, and tax reductions. Plug-in hybrids can be charged up, allowing them to drive on electric power for several miles and further improving fuel economy, which makes even hybrid SUVs appear efficient.

    

Most efficient petrol cars: shortcut to categories

We’ve used official fuel economy data to rank the most efficient new petrol cars on sale now - most are also available as efficient used petrol cars. The mpg figures are based on a standard European laboratory test and published by the government's Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

But, as most car owners know, those official figures can be way off the mark, so we’ve included a real-world mpg estimate where available. It's based on public road testing of hundreds of cars, and comes from a database called the Equa Index. In some cases the difference in fuel economy can be enormous - more than 20mpg - but it affects diesel cars too: very few motorists ever achieve their car’s official fuel economy rating.

The most efficient cars tend to have smaller wheels, and may come with engines that have reduced power. In these cases, we have set out the most efficient wheel size and engine horsepower, which can also be written as PS. The pictures aren't necessarily the exact specification of car that is described.  For more information on the best fuel for your car, see our guide to choosing between petrol and diesel.

   

Most economical petrol city cars

These city cars appear to be the most efficient petrol cars that you can buy; their small dimensions and light weight should make them natural fuel economy champions. But it will depend on how you drive.

The small engines perform well in the mandatory fuel economy test, but often need revving to deliver adequate performance, which can cause real-world fuel economy to tumble. That means that you may well get cheaper fuel bills with a larger car that has a bigger engine.

1. Fiat 500

Model Fiat 500 & 500C 0.9 TwinAir 85 (S, Lounge)
Official fuel economy 74.3mpg
Latest Fiat 500 TwinAir deals from £5,969 / £100 per month

Fiat’s tiny TwinAir engine is notorious: for its zippy acceleration, sporty exhaust burble and its tiny size (it’s made up of only two cylinders, like a motorbike engine). The TwinAir motor is also notorious for its highly unrealistic fuel economy figures because you need to rev the engine hard to get decent performance. It feels sporty but has a dramatic impact on real-world fuel economy, which can be half the oficial figure.
Fiat 500 buying guide

Real-world fuel consumption 42.7mpg
CO2 90g/km

   

=2. Citroen C1 / Peugeot 108 / Toyota Aygo

Model Manual cars fitted with 1.0 72hp engine
Official fuel economy 68.9mpg
Latest Peugeot 108 deals from £4,700 / £70 per month

Underneath their quite different styling, the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo (pictured from left to right) use the same mechanical parts, so you’re guaranteed one of the most efficient city cars, no matter which one you buy. The Peugeot 108 is most plentiful, with 795 cars currently available from BuyaCar. Toyota Aygo prices start from £5,289 or £79 per month on finance. Alternatively, the Citroen C1 costs from £4,875 or £82 a month..

CO2 93g/km  
Real-world fuel consumption 51.1mpg

 

=2. Seat Mii / Skoda Citigo / VW up!

Model Manual cars fitted with 1.0 60hp engine
Official fuel economy 68.9mpg
Latest VW up! deals from £4,689 / £79 per month

Just like the trio above, the Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen up! (pictured) are essentially the same car beneath the badges, with identical fuel efficiency. They offer less power than their rivals but more interior space and a more comfortable ride. Real-world fuel economy is a little lower and they tend to be a little more expensive too. The Volkswagen offers the greatest choice, followed by the Skoda Citigo, which currently costs from £4,780 or £82 per month on BuyaCar. Current deals on the Seat Mii start at £4,900 or from £80 per month on finance.

CO2 96g/km  
Real-world fuel consumption 45.6mpg

 

Most efficient petrol small cars

With official fuel economy figures approaching 70mpg and nearly-new prices of less than £10,000, petrol superminis are an ideal choice if you're on a budget, particularly as the extra space that they offer over city cars makes them more flexible and a feasible choice for a small family.

Once again, there can be large discrepancies between the advertised fuel economy figures and those you can achieve in normal driving - as happens with diesel cars too. As all of the best performing superminis have an identical mpg, the real-world figure is a useful way of choosing between them.

=1 Alfa Romeo MiTo

Models Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir 105 Manual (MiTo, Speciale, Super models)
Official fuel economy 67.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 40.8mpg
CO2 99g/km    
    
      

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £14,750
Search the latest new and used Alfa Romeo MiTo deals

     

    

=1 Audi A1

Models Audi A1 & A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI 95PS (SE, Sport models with 15in or 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 67.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 46.6mpg
CO2 97g/km
Read the Audi A1 buying guide
 

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £14,650
Search the latest new and used Audi A1 deals

   

           

=1 Peugeot 208

Models Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech 82 Auto (Active, Allure models)
Official fuel economy 67.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 42.8mpg
CO2 97g/km
Read the Peugeot 208 buying guide
   

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £12,000
Search the latest new and used Peugeot 208 deals

   

        

Most efficient petrol family cars

For excellent fuel economy in a family hatchback, the Peugeot 308 can't be matched. You're unlikely to reach the heights of its advertised 70mpg, but 50mpg is a realistic target. It's an impressive figure once you've allowed for the fact that the vast majority of cars fail miserably to live up to their official fuel economy figure in real-world driving.

With efficiency comes limited power, and you'll need to be able to live with slow and steady acceleration to reduce fuel costs: stamping hard on the accelerator will send the petrol gauge plummeting.

1 Peugeot 308

Models Peugeot 308 PureTech 1.2 110 (Active, Allure models with 15in or 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 70.6mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 47mpg
CO2 95g/km

   
     

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £15,000
Search the latest new and used Peugeot 308 deals

       

    


2 Seat Leon

Models Seat Leon SE Technology 1.0 TSI Ecomotive (Manual or auto)
Official fuel economy 64.2mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 102g/km
Read the Seat Leon buying guide
    

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £15,300
Search the latest new and used Seat Leon deals

      

      


=2 Vauxhall Astra

Model Vauxhall Astra 1.0 Turbo 105PS (Tech Line and Design models)
Official fuel economy 64.2mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 42.9mpg
CO2 102g/km
Read the Vauxhall Astra buying guide
    

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £15,650
Search the latest new and used Vauxhall Astra deals

   

  

Most efficient small petrol crossovers and SUVs

Citroen and Peugeot (which are owned by the same company) have some of the most efficient petrol engines available, and they dominate this category, with real-world fuel economy figures that are better than a standard family hatchback. 

it's no surprise that Vauxhall's new Crossland X crossover drops into third place because it shares mechanical parts - including the small petrol engine - with the second-placed Peugeot 2008, so they are virtually the same car underneath the bodywork and interior fittings.

Citroen C4 Cactus with airbumps

1 Citroen C4 Cactus

Models Citroen C4 Cactus PureTech 82 Auto (Feel, Flair models with 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 65.7mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 47.8mpg
CO2 98g/km
Read the Citroen C4 Cactus buying guide
   

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £13,500
Search the latest new and used Citroen C4 Cactus deals

   

   

2 Peugeot 2008

Models Peugeot 2008 PureTech 1.2 110 Manual (Active, Allure GT Line models)
Official fuel economy 64.2mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 44.1mpg
CO2 103g/km
    
        

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £15,600
Search the latest new and used Peugeot 2008 deals

   

    

3 Vauxhall Crossland X

Model Vauxhall Crossland X 1.2 81PS
Official fuel economy 58.9mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 109g/km
    

   

  

Most efficient petrol crossovers and SUVs

Larger cars require more energy to get moving, and so the extra efficiency of diesel results in greater savings. Diesel engines also produce most of their power without needing to be revved, so they can get heavier vehicles moving with less fuel. That means that petrol has rarely been the first choice for crossover and SUV buyers.

However, this is changing as newer cars are becoming lighter and are being fitted with more advanced engines, which makes petrol power a more feasible choice.

The models below have impressive official figures and, in some cases, real-world fuel economy that’s better than 40mpg. They might not be as efficient as diesel versions that return over 50mpg in real-world conditions, but running costs shouldn’t break the bank. This category doesn't include any hybrid SUVs, which have much better fuel economy figures but are more expensive.

1 Peugeot 3008

Model Peugeot 3008 PureTech 130 Manual (Active, Allure & GT Line models)
Official fuel economy 55.4mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 117g/km
Read the Peugeot 3008 buying guide
        

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £19,000
Search the latest new and used Peugeot 3008 deals

   

    

2 Seat Ateca

Models Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI Ecomotive 115PS Manual (S, SE models)
Official fuel economy 54.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 41mpg
CO2 119g/km
Read the Seat Ateca buying guide
          

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £17,300
Search the latest new and used Seat Ateca deals

   

   

3 Suzuki Vitara

Models Suzuki Vitara 1.6 2WD Manual (SZ4, SZ5, SZ-T models) 
Official fuel economy 53.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 44.7mpg
CO2 123g/km
Read the Suzuki Vitara buying guide
    

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £13,350
Search the latest new and used Suzuki Vitara deals

    

      

Most efficient petrol estate cars

Once again, it’s a Peugeot that tops the table in this estate car category, but it's the Skoda Octavia in third place that represents the best all-round package, Not only can you expect fuel economy of more than 40mpg, but it’s also got a vast boot. With the seats down, its capacity of 1740 litres is not far short of the immense Mercedes E-Class.

1 Peugeot 308

Models Peugeot 308 SW Puretech 1.2 110 Manual (Access, Active, Allure models with 15in or 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 67.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 45.7mpg
CO2 99g/km
           

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £14,500
Search the latest new and used Peugeot 308 SW deals

     

    

2 Seat Leon Sport Tourer (ST)

Model Seat Leon ST SE Technology 1.0 TSI Ecomotive (Manual & auto)
Official fuel economy 64.2mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 102g/km
Read the Seat Leon buying guide      

Typical new prices from £16,000
Search the latest new and used Seat Leon deals

   

   

3 Skoda Octavia

Model Skoda Octavia Estate 1.0 TSI 115PS Manual (with 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 62.8mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 42.2mpg
CO2 105g/km
Read the Skoda Octavia buying guide
     

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £15,750
Search the latest new and used Skoda Octavia deals

   

      

Most efficient petrol medium-size family cars

Most buyers of medium-size cars tend to opt for diesel engines, as they offer the lowest company car tax, thanks to reduced carbon dioxide emissions. They will usually be cheaper to run if you make regular long-distance journeys, thanks to their greater efficiency too.

In fact, it's imposible to get a petrol car in some cases - the Volkswagen Passat is only available as a diesel or hybrid, for example. But it's worth seeking out the best petrol models. Not only do they have high advertised mpg figures, but you can actually achieve more than 40mpg with some steady driving too.

Unless you're travelling hundreds of miles every week, the extra cost of a diesel car is likely to outweigh any fuel savings.

Top of the list is the efficient but mediocre Seat Toledo. After that, the choices become more appealing, with the large and good-value Skoda Superb, followed by an Audi A4. Just off the list, in fourth place is the BMW 318i, with an advertised 54.3mpg and a real world figure of 37.1mpg, according to the Equa Index.

1 Seat Toledo

Model Seat Toledo 1.0 TSI
Official fuel economy 61.4 mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 106g/km     

Search the latest new and used Seat Toledo deals

  

  

2 Skoda Superb

Model Skoda Superb SE Greenline 1.4 150PS Manual with Super ROWI tyres
Official fuel economy 58.9mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 42.8mpg
CO2 113g/km
     
     

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £20,150
Search the latest new and used Skoda Superb deals

         

      

3 Audi A4

Models Audi A4 2.0 TFSI 190PS S Tronic (SE, Sport models with 17in wheels)
Official fuel economy 55.4mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 37.1mpg
CO2 116g/km
Read the Audi A4 buying guide
   

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £25,250
Search the latest new and used Audi A4 deals

     

        

Most efficient petrol seven-seater cars

Citroen and Peugeot’s efficient petrol motors help to make even a big seven-seater petrol car a realistic choice, although acceleration can feel a bit slow.
The Citroen Berlingo Multispace and Peugeot Partner Teepee are effectively the same car, so they have been grouped into second place. Ford’s Grand C-Max is a practical choice, but fairly slow when fitted with a small and efficient 1-litre petrol engine.

1 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Models Citroen Grand C4 Picasso PureTech 130 Manual (with 16in wheels)
Official fuel economy 56.5mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 115g/km
Read the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso buying guide
        

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £18,500
New and used Citroen Grand C4 Picasso deals

     

   

2 Citroen Berlingo Multispace & Peugeot Partner Teepee

Models Puretech 110 Manual cars
Official fuel economy 55.4mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 40.1mpg
CO2 119g/km
     

   

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £13,000
Search the latest new and used Citroen Berlingo Multispace deals

Search the latest new and used Peugeot Partner Teepee deals

   

   

3 Ford Grand C-Max

Models Ford Grand C-Max 1.0 EcoBoost (100 or 125PS)
Official fuel economy 54.3mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 119g/km
 
       

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £17,700
Search the latest new and used Ford Grand C-Max deals

   

   

Most efficient petrol hybrid cars

With an electric motor that boosts power and reduces the amount of work required from the engine (cutting fuel use), petrol-hybrids are particularly effective in stop-start traffic when they can be more efficient as diesels. Top of the list is the latest Toyota Prius.

1 Toyota Prius

Models Toyota Prius (Active, Excel, Business Edition models with 15in wheels)
Official fuel economy 94.1mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 70g/km
    

   

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £21,600
Search the latest new and used Toyota Prius deals

    

  

2 Toyota Yaris

Models Toyota Yaris 1.5 hybrid (Icon, Excel models with 15in wheels)
Official fuel economy 85.6mpg
Real-world fuel consumption 52.9mpg
CO2 75g/km
Read the Toyota Yaris buying guide
         

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £14,500
Search the latest new and used Toyota Yaris deals

    

   

3 Hyundai Ioniq

Model Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (with 15in wheels)
Official fuel economy 83.1mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 79g/km
Read the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid buying guide
        

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £17,500
Search the latest new and used Hyundai Ioniq deals

     

    

Most efficient petrol plug-in hybrid cars

With large batteries that you charge up, allowing them to drive on electric power alone for several miles, plug-in hybrid cars are extremely efficient on short journeys, but your mpg will soar on longer journeys, where you are more reliant on the vehicle’s petrol engine. The official mpg figures are even less useful than normal - they can easily very by more than 100mpg depending on the length and type of your journeys, as well as the frequency with which you can charge the car.

1 Kia Optima

Model Kia Optima PHEV
Official fuel economy 176.6mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 37g/km
Read the Kia Optima buying guide
       
    

Typical BuyaCar new prices from £27,750
Search the latest new and used Kia Optima deals

   

    

2 Audi A3

Model Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (with 17in wheels)
Official fuel economy 166.2mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 38g/km
Read the Audi A3 buying guide
      
    

Typical new prices from £36,000
Search the latest new and used Audi A3 e-tron deals

   

    

3 VW Golf

Model VW Golf GTE
Official fuel economy 166mpg
Real-world fuel consumption n/a
CO2 35g/km
Read the VW Golf GTE buying guide
      
    

Typical new prices from £34,000
Search the latest new and used VW Golf GTE deals    

   

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