What are the UK’s most economical petrol and diesel cars?

What are the UK’s most economical petrol and diesel cars?

Looking for the most economical car for your money? You might find yourself up against a bit of a challenge. While there are some great contenders for the ‘best MPG cars’ list out there, actually tracking down the best economy car involves a lot of searching through manufacturer fuel consumption figures.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’ve done on your behalf – and we’ve put together a list of the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars currently available in the UK.

What’s included?

It seems a little unfair to compare petrol and diesel cars on the same list – and it would seem extremely unfair to compare electric vehicles to either traditional fuel type cars – so we haven’t.

Instead, we’ve broken our top 10 best fuel-efficient cars list into 2 smaller lists – the best fuel economy petrol cars – and – the most economical diesel cars. That way, you can browse the fuel type that suits your driving.

What’s right for you?

A quick glance at some overall best fuel economy car contenders might lead you to believe that diesel is an obvious choice – but in many cases, it’s not.

There are some significant differences between petrol and diesel cars, including:

  • Cost: Diesel powered cars are traditionally more costly than petrol alternatives; which offsets the benefit you'll see from fuel savings
  • Price at the pump: Diesel tends to cost more when you fill up; which again will offset mileage savings
  • Journeys: Petrol cars are better suited to shorter journeys; whereas shorter trips can lead to increased running costs for diesels
  • Insurance: Diesels tend to be less costly to insure compared to their petrol alternatives

The message here is clear – there’s a lot more to making the right fuel and model choice than just comparing average MPG figures. If you’re hoping to work out what is the most fuel-efficient car for you, you’ll need to consider how all of the above impact your overall running costs.

The UK’s most economical petrol cars

Suzuki Celerio – 78.4mpg

The Suzuki Celerio might not have the meanest looks or any potential for a heart-thumping drive – but it’s right at the very top of our best MPG petrol cars list.

The 5-door Celerio, equipped with Suzuki’s 1.0 Dualjet SZ3 engine, returns an incredible 78.4mpg according to the manufacturer figures – and interestingly, long-term road tests show very similar figures in reality. With a good level of standard equipment and outstanding practicality, this super-economical little Suzuki should be considered for the shopping list of anyone who’s looking for the most fuel-efficient petrol car.

Fiat 500 – 74.3mpg

If you’re willing to exchange a little mpg for looks, the Fiat 500, equipped with the 0.9 TwinAir petrol engine is a great little car with well above-average MPG for a petrol car.

The modern Fiat 500 is fast becoming a classic design – and it’s not difficult to see why they’re so popular on UK roads with great fuel economy, brilliant performance around town, and a decent level of equipment. Beware though, fuel economy is only one part of your overall running costs – and the upfront price of the Fiat 500 might make you lean toward others on this list of the most economical petrol cars.

Hyundai i10 – 74.3mpg

The Hyundai i10 is a fantastic little city car – and benefits from being that little bit more upright than most of the other cars on this list.

Hyundai’s 1.0 Blue Drive SE spec 5-door car returns the same claimed 74.3mpg as the Fiat 500 – but costing significantly less off the forecourt, the i10 is going to win a lot of fans. Parking is exceptionally easy in the i10 – and a recent style overhaul gives it a much prettier look, with the nice-looking outsides matched by bright and modern interiors too. It might not be as chic as the Fiat – but it outperforms its Italian rival.

Skoda Citigo – 73mpg

If you’ve got a keen eye for superminis, you’ll realise the Skoda Citigo looks very similar to both the Seat Mii and the Volkswagen Up – but it’s significantly less costly than both.

From a fuel economy point of view, the Citigo outperforms the Seat and VW – and it’s all down to the fact that Skoda has really stripped down the weight of the car. Stripped back doesn’t mean uncomfortable or lower standards inside though – the Citigo is every bit as nice to be in as both the Up and the Mii. With a 1.0 Greentech petrol engine, you can expect somewhere close to the impressive manufacturer suggested 73mpg – giving the Citigo a well-deserved place on our list of the 10 most fuel-efficient cars.  

Volkswagen Up – 71mpg

Mechanically identical to the Skoda Citigo, the Up misses the mark slightly when the 2 have a straight fuel consumption comparison shootout – but as a VW, it’s finished to a slightly higher standard.

Sporting the 1.0 60ps Petrol engine, the Up isn’t going to win any drag races, but as a little around town machine, it’s up there with the very best. VW’s signature build quality is evident both inside and out – and it could be argued that the grille and front end are fractionally more attractive than the Skoda. Another brilliant little supermini – and well above the average MPG for petrol cars of this size.

The UK’s most economical diesel cars

Peugeot 208 – 94.2mpg

Peugeot’s 208 takes the top spot on the ‘best fuel consumption’ cars list – with an incredible 94.2mpg claimed in manufacturer figures.

Interestingly, the 75hp 1.6-litre diesel engine car is a bit more robust feeling than any of the petrol cars we’ve talked about previously – with a solid feeling cockpit, room for adults in the back seat, and a boot that’ll easily swallow a big weekly shop. It’s not the most exciting to drive – but it’s a pretty little car – and it doesn’t just boast good MPG – this car offers incredible MPG.

Renault Clio – 88mpg

The Renault Clio seems to win the hearts of younger drivers – and when you climb inside, there’s a definite appeal to the uncomplicated layout, smart upholstery, and easy to use infotainment system.

Rather impressively (considering a claimed 88mpg), performance isn’t completely overlooked by fuel economy for people buying this car – with a zippy little 90hp 1.5 diesel engine that more than holds-its-own around town and away from the lights. There’s a little space dropped compared to the Peugeot 208, but in such a nice-looking car, that can be forgiven.

Vauxhall Astra – 83mpg

Although it drops MPG figures compared to the 208 or Clio, the Astra is slightly bigger car – so it wins its own little category within this top 5 as the best fuel-efficient family car.

Boot practicality is improved over the superminis on this list – and it’s more comfortable at higher speeds too, owing to solid build quality and an excellent 110hp 1.6-litre diesel engine. If you’re looking for a car that boasts impressive space as well as exceptional fuel economy, the Astra should be on your test-drive list.

Honda Civic – 81mpg

If you like your impressive fuel economy wrapped up in mean looks and impressive handling – the Civic might be the car for you.

As well as delivering an outstanding 81mpg from the 1.6-litre diesel engine, the Honda Civic is the roomiest car out of all 10 on these lists, although the interior feels a touch on the cheap side. Still, with 120hp and some nice sporty touches, it’s certainly more exciting to drive than the superminis that return similar performance figures.

Vauxhall Corsa – 81mpg

As far as solid performers go, the Vauxhall Corsa is up there with the best – and it outperforms the Ford Fiesta and the VW Polo with the claimed 81mpg delivered by the 1.3 diesel engine.

Corsas come with an impressive equipment list right through the range – with easy to use touchscreen infotainment that’s the focus of a well-thought-through interior that’s a pleasure to be in. It’s not quite a family car, but 4 adults can squeeze into the Corsa for short trips – and it’s an attractive car that promises to age well.  

The best overall?

When you’ve decided on the fuel type that’s the best fit for your driving, you could simply pick the top car from each of these lists if your sole focus is on MPG. That said, neither the Celerio nor the 208 are the best cars overall – with driver opinion swaying more toward the Hyundai I10 or Skoda Citigo in that regard.

If you’re looking for fuel economy and a little more size, both the Astra and the Civic are great small family cars that hold their own well on longer journeys – then again, if you’re looking for more style, the Fiat 500 is difficult to beat at any price.

While actual MPG might vary a little from the manufacturer claimed figures on these lists, each of these cars delivers incredible performance from a traditionally fuelled engine – and will see you squeeze every drop of value out of the forecourt pumps.