Cars that can do more than 50mpg

Fuel economy of more than 50mpg is possible with petrol and diesel cars and big and small models alike. Check out the best 50mpg cars below

James Wilson
Jul 21, 2022

Cars that can do more than 50mpg could save you thousands every year in fuel costs compared with similar, but less economical, options - and there are lots to choose from. The list of potentials includes petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, although some types of hybrid can be quite misleading when it comes to official fuel economy figures, so it's good to work out whether petrol-electric models would suit the type of driving you do before getting one.

This is because, on paper, hybrids promise incredibly high mpg but the reality is that many people will struggle to get half of the official numbers in the case of plug-in hybrids, and conventional hybrids can be very economical when driving on slower roads, but less so on faster roads.

There are two main types of hybrid - traditional and plug-in 'PHEV' versions. Traditional hybrids don't require charging, have a shorter electric range and come with official economy figures much closer to what typical motorists will be able to achieve in the real world. Meanwhile, PHEVs do need charging to get anywhere near their official figures, as they have a larger battery pack and can normally travel between 30 and 40 miles using electricity alone - provided you start with a full battery.

The issue with plug-in hybrid economy figures is that the official test format only covers a limited distance and cars start with a charged battery - showing PHEV economy at its best. In the real world, you may cover a number of long journeys or start trips without much charge in the battery, forcing the car to burn more petrol or diesel.

Fail to charge a PHEV - or go on lots of long journeys where the batteries get depleted quickly - and the car will rely very heavily on its conventional engine, burning more fuel than necessary and not getting much assistance from the electric motor, as the motor has no charge to help power the car.

In these scenarios, the fuel consumption of a PHEV can be less than that of a non-hybrid on account of having to haul around a heavy battery. The long and the short of it is, PHEV drivers must charge their car as much as physically possible and avoid driving with an empty battery to achieve the best fuel economy.

Below there are eight cars that can do more than 50mpg. There is a range of makes and models which will suit a variety of budgets. The cars also range in shape and size, so no matter whether you are on the hunt for a fun convertible, spacious family wagon or your next company car there should be something suitable.

No matter which cars you look at, remember that fuel economy figures are a guide, not guaranteed figures, even if you choose a car with the most economical engine. Driving with underinflated tyres, having the air-conditioning blasting at maximum and/or accelerating as fast as possible will result in much greater fuel consumption than the official figures suggest.

Also, the fuel economy of a particular model can change with seemingly small differences in specification - such as marginally bigger alloy wheels (as these can be heavier and require more energy to turn). The take away from this? Choose wisely to get a car that suits your driving.

Petrol models can suit those with lower mileages, with diesel models offering fuel savings to high-mileage drivers. Traditional hybrids, meanwhile, suit those who do lots of low-speed urban driving, with plug-in models working for those who do lots of short trips and are willing to charge the car regularly for the lowest possible fuel bills.

If you are finding that your car doesn’t achieve fuel economy figures anywhere near the official numbers, then there are courses and online resources to help you learn more about driving efficiently. With fuel prices as high as they are, most courses will soon pay for themselves.

Is 50mpg good? The best cars that can do 50mpg

1. BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 Series front three quarters view

Our pick BMW 330e M Sport
Used deals from £16,200
Monthly finance from £329*

There are both saloon and estate versions of the BMW 3 Series. 'Touring' estate versions offer greater load space and boot access, making them the practical option, though as Touring models are heavier, they are also a little less economical. So, stick with the saloon for maximum fuel economy and opt for the Touring if you need to transport bulky items such as buggies, sports gear or large pets.

When looking for a 3 Series that can surpass 50mpg, then the 330e is an excellent option. These versions are plug-in hybrids and their real-world economy is massively dependent on how often the battery is charged and how long your journeys are. Those who do lots of short journeys and can charge regularly may be able to do all their driving using electric power, meaning lower running costs than for a typical petrol or diesel model. Fail to charge, though, and the 330e may be less economical than petrol and diesel alternatives.

If you don't have the discipline to plug in the car regularly or somewhere you can charge, the 330d diesel models are a good alternative. These use a powerful 3.0-litre engine and are claimed to be capable of more than 50mpg as well. The ‘d’ models are better suited to drivers who regularly undertake lots of motorway trips or long journeys where a plug-in hybrid would soon run out of charge and be inefficient, relying heavily on its petrol or diesel engine, while having the weight of the battery pack and electric motor to lug around.

BMW 330E BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mini Convertible

Our pick Mini Convertible Cooper Exclusive
Used deals from £11,950
Monthly finance from £212*

Who says that fuel economy has to come at the expense of fun? Clearly not Mini's engineers, as the convertible is one of the most joyful cars on the road - for keen drivers and those who simply want to get from A to B alike. A large part of this is down to the electronically folding fabric roof that opens the cabin up to the elements. In addition, the steering, suspension and engine of the Mini are designed to make zipping around corners enjoyable rather than fear-inducing - however experienced you are.

While there are rear seats, space will be tight for adults in the back. Mind you, fold the roof down and headroom is excellent… When shopping for a model, we’d recommend looking for a 1.5-litre petrol in Cooper trim. This version blends performance, economy and price very well and should be less expensive to insure than models with more sporty engines such as Cooper S or John Cooper Works convertibles.

MINI CONVERTIBLE BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota RAV4

Our pick Toyota RAV4 2.5 VVT-h Design
Used deals from £16,995
Monthly finance from £229*

The previous-generation Toyota RAV4 was sold up until 2018 and promises drivers a spacious and reliable mode of transport - with the prospect of 50mpg+ fuel economy if you choose the right version. Reliability is one of the key aspects of Toyota’s appeal, and this is supported by substantial manufacturer warranty cover. This can run for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles depending on the model.

We say ‘can run’ as there are some caveats, but broadly speaking, any Toyota up to 10 years old will have a rolling 12-month/10,000-mile warranty applied automatically when serviced by an official Toyota garage. For more information, search for ‘Toyota Relax explained’ on Google.

We’d recommend shopping for a traditional hybrid version of the RAV4, as this petrol-electric setup offers strong fuel economy. Traditional hybrids recharge their batteries through processes such as regenerative braking. This slows a car down using the electric motor but has the added bonus of sending charge back to the battery pack.

If this all sounds complex, that’s because it is. We prefer to leave the technical details to the engineers and simply say that opting for a hybrid RAV4 can provide you with a very relaxed drive - all RAV4 hybrids are automatics - and you can enjoy the improved fuel economy especially around town and when on slower roads compared with standard petrol or diesel versions.

TOYOTA RAV4 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Seat Ateca

Our pick Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI SE Technology
Used deals from £12,200
Monthly finance from £188*

If you like the look of the Volkswagen Tiguan but fancy saving a few pennies, then the Seat Ateca is a great option. This is due to the fact both cars are built on the same platform, meaning they share many components, such as media systems and engines. Saying that the Ateca is merely a cut-price Volkswagen Tiguan is doing it a bit of a disservice, therefore. Plus, the Seat looks different, coming with more sporty styling that might grab you more than the Tiguan's more grown up look.

All models come with five seats - those looking for seven seats will need to consider the larger Seat Tarraco instead. Not all Ateca variants can do more than 50mpg, though there are both petrol and diesel ones that can. Look for models with the frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine or the 1.6-litre diesel. Regardless of engine, the Ateca should prove easy to live with. This is partly thanks to the great range of driver's seat and steering wheel adjustment, making it possible for people of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable.

SEAT ATECA BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Peugeot 2008

Our pick Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech Allure Premium
Used deals from £17,350
Monthly finance from £273*

The latest 2008 is a cracking small SUV that can compete with impressive alternatives such as the Renault Captur and Ford Puma. Let’s talk about styling; the striking bodywork and sharp design details, such as LED lights that give the impression of a claw mark (which relates to Peugeot's lion logo), mean this is one of the smartest looking small SUVs available.

The interior is a class act, too, being even more eye-catching than the exterior. As for the engines and running costs, there are a number of frugal petrol and diesel options, plus an electric e-2008. Unless you are the kind of driver that travels lots of miles each year - covering more than 15,000 miles or so - then we’d recommend one of the petrol models, as these are punchy and refined. These are better suited to shorter town journeys compared to diesels, as diesels can suffer reliability issues if repeatedly driven for short distances.

PEUGEOT 2008 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Touran

Our pick Volkswagen Touran 1.2 TSI SE Family
Used deals from £16,990
Monthly finance from £323*

The Touran has acres of space inside, plenty of cubby holes for books, toys, snacks and of course bubble gum. When looking for a 50mpg plus model, the 1.2-litre BMT SE Family variant is the one to hunt down. This may have a small petrol engine, but it still offers plenty of power and impressive refinement. High-mileage drivers can also opt for one of the diesel engines, as these offer greater fuel economy and should cost less to run overall.

The German people carrier also comes with three sets of Isofix points, which is very handy if you have lots of car seats to secure. Another great feature for families is its five-star crash test safety rating, with a child occupant protection score of 89% - making it impressively safe for adults and children. This test score may have been achieved in 2015 and the official tests are now far tougher, however should still look after you and your family well.

VOLKSWAGEN TOURAN BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mercedes A-Class

Our pick Mercedes A200 AMG Line automatic
Used deals from £11,500
Monthly finance from £207*

Although Mercedes launched a new version of the A-Class in 2018, the older model makes for an excellent upmarket hatchback - and it's far more affordable, too. What’s more, looking for an A-Class which can achieve more than 50mpg need not mean driving a slow car. ‘A200’ versions have enough power to accelerate them from 0 to 62mph in under eight seconds, which is reasonably nippy for this type of car. This makes it easy in the A200 to pick up speed, without having to work the engine hard.

If sporty looks are your preference, then AMG Line is the trim to hunt for. While this trim looks more sporty than regular models - mostly thanks to flashy alloy wheels - the A-Class is still decently comfortable and doesn't look too zany. Although automatic and manual gearboxes are available, the automatic versions provide better fuel economy, so we'd recommend going for one of these.

MERCEDES A-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauhxall Astra Sports Tourer 1.4T SRi Nav
Used deals from £8,628
Monthly finance from £162*

The Vauxhall Astra may not be the most attention-grabbing or desirable model on paper, but it is an excellent choice for all sorts of drivers after a top-value, economical car. Families will value the spacious cabin, relatively large boot and economical engines. Company car drivers will benefit from comfortable suspension, good value and plenty of standard equipment to take the edge off long motorway trips. Young professionals, meanwhile, may like the sporty trims - like SRi - that give the Astra a sharper look.

We’ve focused on the Sports Tourer models here, which are the estate versions and offer much greater load space. Having a larger boot can be very handy and thanks to efficient engines such as the 1.4-litre petrol, you can still benefit from 50mpg fuel economy from petrol versions as well as the bigger boot. There are plenty of automatic and manual models to choose from, with both creeping into the 50mpg+ club.

VAUXHALL ASTRA BUYERS' GUIDE

*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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