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Which cars deliver the best MPG?

Which cars deliver the best MPG?


With the cost of fuel seemingly constantly rising, Motoring journalist, John Swift, takes a look at the cars that deliver exceptional fuel efficiency and are kinder on your pocket.

Which cars deliver the best MPG?

At the time of writing (June) the industry is in a sort of no-man’s land, because from September cars’ fuel consumption and exhaust emissions will be measured in a completely different way, which should be more accurate and a better reflection of what drivers will experience in the intervals between visiting the fuel pumps.

Petrol station

It’s called the WLTP (World Harmonised Light Vehicle test) and early indications are that mpg figures will go down and CO2 emissions up. Some hybrids will also be revealed to be not quite as frugal as manufacturers are currently allowed to claim.

However, assuming that the changes will affect cars to roughly the same degree, it means that the best and most economical of them now, will remain among the top under the new method. Using data from trade guides published this year, here are some of the mainstream, mass-market cars you should be looking at if getting the most from each gallon you buy is top of your criteria when choosing your next car.

Superminis and family hatchbacks

Peugeot 208 1.6L BlueHDi Active 75 S&S

This is a diesel supermini developed with economy as one of its top characteristics. It has an official average consumption of 94 mpg and will do 105 mpg on the `extra-urban cycle’ which is meant to replicate the car being driven on a mix of main and rural roads and motorways. The S&S in its name refers to the stop/start system which cuts the engine when the car is stationary such as at a red light, and starts it again as soon as you push out the clutch. This makes it a mini-hybrid and also means it is cutting pollution in urban areas. The Peugeot emits 79 g/km of CO2 making it one of the greenest family hatchbacks on sale.

Average mpg 94

Prange Peugeot 208 parked in a barren landscape

Explore the Peugeot 208

Renault Clio 1.5 dCi Play 90 ECO

Renault badge some of their cars as ECO models and the performance of it supermini justifies the tag. The average fuel consumption of this 1.5 diesel is 88 mpg, its extra urban figure is 91mpg and around town 86. It emits 82 g/km of CO2.

Average mpg 88

Red Renault Clio driving down a road

DS 3 1.6 BlueHDi 100hp S&S

Coming from the Peugeot-Citroën group the DS 3 with the 1.6 diesel and stop/start is similar to the 208 but averages 83 mpg, returns 88 mpg on the extra-urban cycle and 74 mpg around town. CO2 emissions stand at 87 g/km.

Average mpg 83

Red DS 3 driving through the country side

Other super-economic superminis and hatchbacks with 80-plus mpg capability are all diesel models and include: FIAT Tipo Multijet, Alfa Romeo MiTo, Ford Fiesta 1.5, Vauxhall Astra 1.6 and Nissan Micra 1.5.


Given their size, height and weight SUVs are intrinsically not particularly fuel efficient cars, but manufacturers have been responding to the market demand and here are some mid-range and large SUVs with surprisingly good eco performance.

Audi Q7 e-tron

This is a diesel electric, big SUV with startlingly good eco figures. Officially this seven seater 4x4 has an average mpg of 157 and a CO2 reading of just 48 g/km which makes it very tax friendly.

Average mpg 157

Audi Q7 e-tron on charge


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Europe’s best selling plug-in hybrid of any sector, not just SUVs, three years in a row from 2015 to 2017 and the top selling plug-in hybrid vehicle in the UK, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has just been comprehensively updated and its extraordinary performance is a clear marker in the way this type of car will have to evolve.

Even using the new WLTP measurement system, the clever combination of its diesel and electric powertrain gives the Outlander an official average fuel consumption of 141 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 46 g/km. It will do 28 miles on battery power alone according to the test.

Average mpg 141

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Kia Niro

A good example of the sort of mid-size SUVs now starting to appear with hybrid engines. The Niro has a petrol/electric power unit and going on official figures, averages almost 75 mpg and emits less than 90 g/km. The hybrid is the only option in this car.

Average mpg 75

Black Kia Niro parked

Peugeot 3008

The multi-award winning Peugeot 3008 (the European Car of the Year in 2017) benefits from the latest design and technology and has very impressive fuel economy. In tests Peugeot recorded a best of 91 mpg from the 1.6 Blue HDi diesel and hybrid-rivalling CO2 emissions as low as 82 g/km.

In the official test results the 3008 isn’t as good as that, but even so the diesels are still excellent. The 1.6 BlueHDi with stop/start has an average of 71 mpg and costs £23,920.

Average mpg 71

Burnt orange Peugeot 3008 SUV whizzing along the road

Explore the Peugeot 3008 SUV

Jaguar F-PACE

Apart from the Outlander, the bigger the SUV, the worse its fuel figures, but the Jaguar F-PACE shows what can be done, even for a full-sized, non-hybrid car like this. The entry level 2.0 diesel with a healthy output of 163 PS officially averages 58 mpg. Even allowing for a degree of unreality between that and what drivers experience in the real world it still indicates good fuel economy for such a big car. It has a CO2 output of 126 g/km, extra-urban consumption of 64 mpg and 49 around town.

Average mpg 58

White Jaguar F-Pace seen driving fast towards you

Explore the Jaguar F-Pace

Fuel efficiency

As a very rough rule of thumb the fuel efficiency of a typical petrol or diesel engine is not very good. Of the energy contained in every gallon you put in, only about one-third is transferred into usable power to drive the car forward. The rest is lost to heat, vibration (it takes a lot of energy to shake an engine), internal friction among the components going up and down or round and round and what are called pumping losses.

Even an ultra-efficient engine, such as the very best of those used in Grand Prix cars, can only liberate about half the energy in their petrol allowance. And the bill for them every season runs into the millions of pounds.

The best way to squeeze more range from every gallon is to modify your driving…