Cars that can do more than 40mpg

40mpg fuel economy is achievable for upmarket SUVs, sporty hatchbacks and sleek convertibles. Here are some of the best of each

James Wilson
Jul 18, 2022

All sorts of car types can do more than 40mpg. You can find fast cars, slow cars, family cars, fun cars, functional cars and many more. There are even vans that are capable of over 40mpg. With that in mind, BuyaCar has hand-picked eight of the very best 40mpg+ models, covering a range of car styles.

Mpg stands for ‘miles per gallon’ and refers to how many miles a car can travel on a gallon of fuel. This is the most common way of presenting cars' fuel economy in the UK. Sometimes ‘l/100km’ - litres of fuel used per 100 kilometres - is used instead, but this is typically only used in mainland Europe.

When cars are approved to be sold in certain regions, they undergo official testing to assess their fuel economy. The test currently used in the UK and the EU is called WLTP. WLTP figures are more accurate than those recorded in the older NEDC test in place until mid-2017, but the results are still considered a best-case scenario.

This is because a fair test which can be repeated for different vehicles at different times, necessitates ignoring some of the factors that negatively affect fuel economy on real roads - such as steep hills, heavy traffic and strong winds.

Additionally, how you drive has an impact on the fuel economy you get. Anticipate hazards well in advance so you can avoid harsh acceleration and braking and you should reduce how much fuel your car uses. However, if you don't pay attention and always find yourself braking hard and driving erratically, you can expect to burn through far more fuel.

The eight models listed below all have official economy figures higher than 40mpg. These are ‘combined’ economy figures, which are calculated to reflect driving on a mixture of urban and out-of-town roads. For a standard petrol or diesel car, lots of short urban journeys typically result in reduced fuel economy, while longer journeys cruising at a steady 60-70mph can be very efficient in comparison.

Is 40mpg good? The best 40mpg+ cars

1. Volkswagen Golf GTI

Our pick Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 TSI DSG
Used deals from £15,295
Monthly finance from £282*

The Volkswagen Golf GTI offers an awful lot to drivers. Being a Golf, it is fundamentally a useful car, with seating for five and a boot big enough for most family duties. It also looks good and feels like a high-quality product. What sets GTI models apart from standard Golfs is the engine.

Not only does it come with an official fuel economy figure of more than 40mpg, but it also produces enough power to accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just over six seconds, which makes it a pretty quick car considering how little fuel it uses.

There are a number of different GTI models to choose from, including standard, Performance and TCR versions. Our pick would be the GTI Performance model, as this is better suited to zipping along 60mph back roads than the standard model, but not quite as hardcore as the TCR versions, as it's more comfortable.

GTI Performance variants are available with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes, so whether you enjoy changing gears yourself or prefer letting the car handle things, there is an option to suit.


2. Hyundai Tucson

Our pick Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI MHEV Premium
Used deals from £10,400
Monthly finance from £175*

If you are looking at second-hand cars, then there are two recent versions of the Tucson to choose from. The older version was made until 2020 and promises to be a reliable, practical and smart-looking mid-size SUV. Similarly sized cars include the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai. Yes, there are alternatives to the Hyundai that are slightly more roomy or have slightly more flashy interiors but as a complete package, this generation Tucson is hard to fault.

The latest version of the Tucson again promises to be reliable and practical but it is more upmarket and more expensive. This was an intentional effort from Hyundai, so it's worth considering whether you're willing to pay a premium for a more stylish image and a more plush interior. You get standard equipment like a 10.3-inch touchscreen media system (that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible), a reversing camera and two-zone climate control, making it a desirable affordable SUV.


3. BMW X5

BMW X5 front three quarters view

Our pick BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport
Used deals from £25,850
Monthly finance from £409*

The BMW X5 is the next size up in SUV compared to models like the Hyundai Tucson. In the case of the X5, this means you get a little extra room and the option of a third row of seats. The seats are relatively restricted in space, though, so they are best used by children or smaller adults.

Generally speaking, comfort is a major strength of the X5 as the suspension does a great job of soaking up bumps. Sporty models, like high-performance X5 M versions, though, tend to come with huge alloy wheels that make the ride more choppy.

Complementing the comfy ride are slick automatic gearboxes that are smooth and largely effortless to use. Then there are the engines. The 3.0-litre diesels may sound big and uneconomical, since most cars on the road have engines that are between 1.0 and 2.0 litres in size, but they are claimed to be able to surpass 40mpg - impressive for a car of this size. These diesel engines are also perfect for overtaking slow-moving traffic as they are powerful and make it easy to pick up speed.


4. Audi S3

Our pick Audi S3 Sportback
Used deals from £17,800
Monthly finance from £299*

Although the Audi S3 doesn't have the most dramatic styling, one look at the rear bumper shows the power of this fast German. There are not one, not two, not three but four exhaust pipes, which are connected to a 2.0-litre petrol engine that has enough muscle to fire the S3 from a standstill to 62mph in under five seconds. What’s more, there are three different types of S3 - hatchback, saloon and convertible.

All S3 models come with four-wheel-drive, which enables you to accelerate fast without easily spinning the wheels, as would be the case in a two-wheel-drive car with similar power. Performance isn’t the Audi’s only strength. Its classy interior is a highlight as it combines a fashionable but minimalist design with good functionality very well.


5. Nissan Juke

Our pick Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T Tekna
Used deals from £15,900
Monthly finance from £219*

Nissan pretty much invented 'crossovers' - that offer SUV-style looks and high driving positions with similar costs and fuel economy to ordinary hatchbacks - when it first launched the Juke. Even after all these years, the Japanese car is still one of the most striking models on the road - whether you go for the original version or the current one.

We say Japanese, but the Juke is actually built near Sunderland, putting it in a very small number of cars that are built in the UK. The most recent version was launched in 2019 with one engine to choose from - a 1.0-litre petrol, which offers much greater performance than you'd expect from its small size.

This small engine should prove relatively economical and is available with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. The latter works best at higher speeds, rather than low-speed town driving. Meanwhile, Nissan’s ProPilot technology can control the steering, acceleration and braking for the Juke on major roads - although this is still a long way short of being an autonomous car. This equipment is available on higher specification models (such as Tekna and N-Connecta) with an automatic gearbox.


6. Citroen Berlingo

Our pick Citroen Berlingo 1.2 PureTech 'M' Feel
Used deals from £16,400
Monthly finance from £302*

The Citroen Berlingo may look relatively compact, but this is one spacious car. There are two lengths of Berlingo to choose from - ’M’ and ‘XL’, with the option of an extra row of seats. This turns the Citroen into a great seven-seater and it is perfect for large families or even taxi drivers. There is an electric model available as well, should you want to slash your fuel bills to the bare minimum.

Thanks to large SUVs like the Land Rover Defender being the in-vogue choice for drivers wanting a big practical car, people carriers such as the Berlingo are often remarkably good value. This Citroen should also prove to be very cost-effective to run, thanks to a choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines. The diesel ones are the best bet for achieving more than 40mpg, although in some specifications the 1.2-litre petrol can also officially surpass the 40mpg mark.


7. Fiat 124 Spider

Our pick Fiat 124 Spider 1.4 Multiair Lusso
Used deals from £13,989
Monthly finance from £270*

Fancy a stylish, fun-to-drive two-seater convertible but don't want to pay big money for one? The Fiat 124 Spider is an excellent second-hand option. Better still, running costs shouldn’t be much of an issue as it uses a frugal 1.4-litre petrol engine, which still sounds sporty when accelerating and offers decent punch.

If you have a need for speed, there is also the high-performance Abarth 124 Spider. Abarth is a company that specialises in making fast Fiats, so the Abarth model is leaner and meaner than the standard car, though it is not without its drawbacks. Namely, it is less comfortable thanks to firmer suspension - which is part of making the Abarth version very agile around corners - and it is normally more expensive in the first place.


8. Mazda 6

Our pick Mazda 6 2.0 Skyactiv-G Sport
Used deals from £6,499
Monthly finance from £171*

Mazda is an often overlooked brand but it makes some cracking cars including the relatively large - and great value - Mazda 6. It is available as a saloon and an estate, with the estate offering greater boot space and easier access when loading large items. This makes the estate version a good choice for those who want space for plenty of luggage or to transport a dog or two. Meanwhile saloon models look more sleek and offer greater rear legroom.

There are petrol and diesel Mazda 6 models, but even the petrols are impressively economical and can achieve more than 40mpg. Unusually, these petrol engines don’t use a power-boosting turbocharger, but offer a smooth power delivery and are very refined, while being able to return impressive fuel economy if you drive smoothly. Throw in stylish looks and a comfy, well-equipped cabin and the 6 proves an appealing option, whether you're very focused on achieving the best fuel economy or not.


*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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