Fuel efficiency is one of those unglamorous things that, most of the time, nobody is particularly interested in.
No-one has ever said: “Cool Ferrari, what sort of MPG do you get?”.
But recent scenes at filling stations have suddenly thrown a light on the importance of a car’s fuel economy. If you’re struggling to find a fill up, you want a car that will make the best use of the fuel you’ve got.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of the 10 most fuel efficient cars currently on sale.
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Although diesel is rapidly falling out of favour, our list shows that it’s still the go-to option if you’re looking for the best fuel economy. Plug-in hybrids offer economy claims that run into the hundreds but they rely on such particular usage and charging practices to achieve these that you’re unlikely to ever see them, so we’ve discounted them from this list.
1. Peugeot 208 Active 1.5 BlueHDi manual – 73.6mpg (from £20,660)
Car makers are increasingly abandoning diesel power in their smaller models, with the focus on small-capacity turbocharged petrols to offer decent power and economy. But like its Stellantis stablemates, Peugeot perseveres with a single diesel unit in its sharp-looking supermini. Here the 1.5-litre unit offers more than 73mpg. As well as its bold design, the latest 208 is packed with the latest technology and is a decent driving alternative to the Ford Fiesta.
2. Vauxhall Corsa SE Edition 1.5 Turbo D manual – 70.6mpg (From £17,805)
As part of the same parent group as Peugeot, the Corsa shares an awful lot with the 208. From their basic underpinnings to their smart modern technology, the two cars are virtually identical, and that goes for the engine too. The Corsa isn’t quite as bold looking as the 208 but in it the 1.5-litre diesel offers a touch more power (101bhp) and a parsimonious 70.6mpg.
3. Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI (11) SE manual – 68.9mpg (From £24,225)
The Octavia is hands-down one of the best family cars you can buy. For a start it’s huge - how about 600 litres of boot space and enough passenger space for five adults? It’s also no longer the budget also-ran of the VW Group, with the looks, feel and tech to compete with the Golf or Leon. And, in this guise, it’s one of the most fuel efficient cars on sale. The payoff is that a relatively lowly 114bhp that will become apparent when it’s fully laden but you can’t have everything.
4= Ford Focus Zetec 1.5 EcoBlue manual – 67.3mpg (From £22,615)
The Focus is a perennial top seller in the UK, never out of the top 10 in the monthly new registration tables. There’s a good reason for that. While it’s not as big as the Octavia and arguable less stylish than the Seat Leon, it’s a solid, practical family car that Ford’s engineers have worked their magic on to ensure it drives better than anything else in the class. With a 1.-5-litre diesel engine it’s no fire-breathing ST but 67.3mpg helps soften the blow and 118bhp is sufficient for day-to-day use.
4=Skoda Octavia Estate SE 2.0 TDI manual – 67.3mpg (£25,225)
How do you make an already excellent car better? Simple, build an estate version. The Octavia wagon has all the same qualities as the hatchback but with a larger, more easily accessible boot and looks better as well. It’ll cost you an extra £1,000 and rob you of 1.5mpg but we think it’s probably worth it.
6= Citroen C3 Shine BlueHDI manual - 65.7mpg 112g/km (£18,725)
The trusty 1.5-litre diesel from the 208 and Corsa makes its third appearance on our list, this time in Citroen’s take on the supermini - the C3. While the Peugeot is all sporty style, and the Corsa’s a straightlaced Fiesta rival this little French car is all about quirky looks and unrivalled ride comfort.
6= Vauxhall Astra SRI Nav 1.5 Turbo D manual – 65.7mpg (From £19,740)
The Corsa’s sibling manages to pull off an impressive feat, being bigger and more practical than the supermini but returns fairly similar economy. The difference is that beneath the skin the Corsa is a relatively new model while the Astra is starting to feel a little long in the tooth, despite a midlife refresh in 2020.
6= Seat Leon SE 2.0 TDI manual – 65.7mpg (From £23,795)
Another case of parts sharing resulting in similar results, the Leon is closely related to the Octavia and it’s the same 114bhp 2.0-litre engine doing its fuel-sipping work here. The Leon is smaller than the Octavia but it’s still a practical family car with smart styling and a suite of the latest tech, which you’ll either love or hate. And whether you want a hatchback or estate, the economy doesn’t change.
6= Ford Focus Zetec 1.5 EcoBlue manual estate - 65.7mpg (From £23,845)
Like the Octavia, the estate version of the Focus offers all the appeal of the standard hatchback but with a bit more space and a more user-friendly boot. And, like the Octavia it does this with only a minor sacrifice in economy and a slight increase in list price.
6= Citroen C4 Shine BlueHDi 110 manual - 65.7mpg (From £25,110)
Here we’ve got another example of a larger Stellantis group car getting impressively close to its smaller stablemate in the economy stakes. In fact, in the C4’s case it manages to match the C3 with 65.7mpg despite being a bigger car with a more powerful output. Like the C3, the Citroen C4 focuses heavily on passenger comfort and eye-catching design in its efforts to woo buyers away from the likes of the Focus, Astra and Leon.