Most economical small cars on sale in UK 2021

Trying to save money on your motoring? These economical small cars are bound to help you make substantial savings

Simon Ostler
Nov 23, 2021

Trying to make motoring more affordable? One of the easiest ways to save yourself a bit of money is to use less fuel. The price of fuel is easy to overlook, but if you're driving over 8,000 miles per year it's likely your annual fuel costs will exceed £1,000 - lengthy commutes can burn some pretty large holes in your wallet.

For many of us, covering thousands of miles a month is unavoidable, so saving money on fuel can seem like a pretty impossible task, but there are steps you can take to make sure your fuel bills are no bigger than they need to be. Driving a car with better fuel economy can be a very effective way of saving fuel and minimising costs.

Fuel economy is generally measured in miles per gallon (mpg), and factors such as engine size, exhaust efficiency and tyre pressures can all have an effect on a car's fuel economy - your driving style can influence your fuel costs, too, you can save fuel if you're gentle with your use of the pedals. An engine that has to work harder will burn more fuel, so it's worth addressing any outstanding engine issues your car may have, because a smoother running engine will be more economical.

If, however, your car is simply burning too much fuel no matter how carefully you drive, then you way want to look towards finding something more efficient. In general terms, newer cars will offer much better fuel economy courtesy of their need to comply with ever stringent environmental standards such as Euro 6. Opting for a smaller car can be good fuel saver, too, because they generally have smaller engines that burn less fuel.

We've taken it upon ourselves to bring you 10 of the most economical small cars on the market. With a mix of diesel and petrol engines - and even a hybrid - there's an excellent choice of great small cars that are not only fun to drive and practical, but they will also save you some serious fuel money in the long term.

Most economical small cars

1. Peugeot 208

Our pick Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi 100
Used deals from £7,500
Monthly finance from £158*
Fuel Economy
94.2mpg (claimed)
CO2 emissions 95g/km

It's only small, but the Peugeot 208 is a car that's full to the brim with character. It's a very capable hatchback that offers good amounts of space for passengers and luggage. Up against the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, the 208 might not be the best car in its class, but a selection of very frugal diesel engines makes it very hard to ignore.

We've gone for the 1.5-litre, 100hp diesel, as it offers astounding fuel economy without being painfully slow. The 94.2mpg figure claimed by Peugeot may be unrealistic in the real world, but you should still see some pretty impressive figures in excess of 50mpg if you're gentle enough on the accelerator.


2. Dacia Sandero

Our pick Dacia Sandero Comfort Blue dCi 95
Used deals from £5,945
Monthly finance from £117*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 98g/km

The Dacia Sandero will save you money before you've even driven it. The Renault subsidiary remains untouchable when it comes to affordable new cars, but this one will continue to save you money on the road as well.

Although you won't get much in the way of technology or performance, the Sandero will make you smile for reasons relating to the weight of your wallet instead. The 95hp, 1.5-litre Blue dCi models will deliver a very handsome 62.8mpg that is certainly not to be sniffed at.


3. Seat Ibiza

Our pick Seat Ibiza FR 1.6 TDI 95PS
Used deals Limited stock
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 100g/km

Another very stylish and enthusiastic option for drivers who still want to enjoy their motoring alongside saving money on fuel. The Seat Ibiza sits alongside the Peugeot 208 and Ford Fiesta as the more exciting cars on this list, but again comes with a temptingly economical diesel engine.

In FR trim you will still have a very comfortable and usable car, but go for the 1.6-litre diesel engine with 95hp and you'll find your fuel bills are reduced as well - this is certainly one to take note of.


4. Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi 85PS
Used deals from £6,499
Monthly finance from £152*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 96g/km

The Ford Fiesta is probably the best car on this list. For outright driving joy alongside day-to-day practicality and versatility, there is really very little that comes close within its class. It's also the most popular car in Britain, and it's very easy to see why.

Next to all that, the Fiesta is also capable of being a very sensible and efficient car if you're looking to make some savings. A 1.5-litre diesel engine with 85hp is available with multiple trims and proves to be very handy. Even if the 74.3mpg claimed by Ford proves to be out of reach, anything above 50mpg will be hugely competitive in this list.


5. Ford Ka+

Our pick Ford Ka+ Zetec 1.5 TDCi
Used deals from £7,800
Monthly finance from £141*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 99g/km

Making use of a slightly more powerful 1.5-litre diesel engine (this time with 95hp), the Ford Ka+ is another example of Ford putting together a very frugal little car. Available in the Zetec trim, you won't be missing out on much as you get plenty of tech including air-conditioning and cruise control.

Again, it's unlikely the claimed 76.3mpg is actually achievable during real world driving, but you should still manage some very acceptable figures if you pay attention to your right foot and don't drive too hard.


6. Suzuki Celerio

Our pick Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet
Used deals from £4,995
Monthly finance from £97*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 89g/km

Here we have something of a left-field choice to the more established Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza. The Suzuki Celerio is certainly not on the same level in terms of quality and popularity - the interior especially leaves us wanting. But up against more realistic rivals like the Dacia Sandero, the Celerio starts to come into its own. It's very affordable, and perfectly likeable, but most importantly, it'll save you money on the road.

It's only available with a tiny, 1.0-litre petrol engine producing 68hp, but economy figures will easily clear 50mpg and Suzuki claim a it'll manage a whopping 89mpg, although it's unreasonable to expect such a number in the real world.


7. Toyota Yaris

Our pick Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1.5 VVT-i Icon
Used deals from £10,995
Monthly finance from £195*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 84g/km

As the only hybrid on this list, it has something of an unfair advantage, but the Toyota Yaris Hybrid is a very capable car that brings even better fuel economy to what is already a very practical and desirable hatchback.

We especially like it in Icon trim, because not only will you get some very impressive fuel economy figures of over 70mpg (more than some other trims thanks to smaller wheels), it also produces the lowest amount of CO2 of the Yaris Hybrid range.


8. Citroen C1

Our pick Citroen C1 Elle VTi 72
Used deals from £4,690
Monthly finance from £104*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 93g/km

The Citroen C1 is another very small car with a very big heart. Particularly in this Elle trim that offers more personalisation with various colour schemes inside and out, the C1 is a very affordable, yet very enjoyable car to own and drive.

It's rough around the edges, feeling a long way off its rivals in terms of quality, and the 1.0-litre, 72hp petrol engine lacks power. But it'll give you an awful lot back in fuel savings, with 68.9mpg proving to be a very realistic target in the real world - your smile is about to get a whole lot bigger.


9. Peugeot 108

Our pick Peugeot 108 1.0
Used deals from £5,190
Monthly finance from £114*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 93g/km

Another French fancy, this time in the form of the Peugeot 108, this one proves to be just as tempting as its larger cousin. A 1.0-litre petrol engine available in Access, Active, Allure and Collection trims makes this car a very impressive fuel saver indeed.

With economy figures of over 50mpg proving very achievable, the 108 will be cheap to run, and also provide some very enjoyable journeys along the way. Like many of the options on this list, the 108 is also incredibly cheap to insure, so there's savings to be made across the board here.


10. Suzuki Swift

Our pick Suzuki Swift 1.2 Dualjet
Used deals from £6,400
Monthly finance from £125*
Fuel economy
CO2 emissions 106g/km

Our final pick is the Suzuki Swift, which is perhaps the dark horse of the lot. With a larger 1.2-litre version of the Dualjet engine found in the Celerio, the Swift can offer some very enticing fuel economy figures; the claimed 61.4mpg should prove to be very attainable in the real world.

This is definitely one you should consider if saving money is important to you. While it's economical, the Swift is also surprisingly fun to drive, so you'd be getting the best of both worlds here.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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