The price of fuel is a key part of the cost of living for many drivers. That’s why it’s important to find a car that quite literally goes the extra mile.

Finding the most fuel-efficient cars, or those that travel further for less, can be tricky. So, we’ve pulled together some Easy As tips on what to look out for when choosing a new car, and a list of some of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market to get you started.

EASY AS HACK:

Reduce your fuel consumption by removing any heavy or unnecessary items from your boot. A lighter car requires less engine power to move and could save you money in the long term.

How is fuel efficiency calculated?

Fuel-efficiency refers to how far your car will travel using a certain amount of fuel.

For example: If Car A travels 50 miles with a gallon of fuel and Car B covers 60 miles using the same amount of fuel, Car B is more fuel-efficient.

What is ‘miles per gallon’?

To help measure fuel-efficiency, the motoring world uses miles per gallon or mpg. It’s a simple metric to show, you guessed it, how far a vehicle will travel with one gallon of fuel.

The higher the mpg, the more fuel-efficient your car. If you own a more fuel-efficient car, it’s likely that it gives off fewer emissions too, which means you can save at the petrol station and on more expensive road tax charges.

How reliable is the mpg measurement?

Car manufacturers have to give their mpg figures by law. However, when you take driving styles, road conditions, and more into account, the actual distance a car might travel can be different to what manufacturers claim.

10 of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market

 

Peugeot 308

  • Price: From £28,050
  • mpg: 63.8
  • Engine:2 litre
  • Road tax: £180

The 308 travels an impressive 700 miles on a full tank. And with its classy interior, comfortable seats and lane keeping technology in mid-range models, it’s a smart choice for those who take frequent long journeys.

 Skoda Octavia

  • Price: From £25,965
  • mpg: 67.8
  • Engine: 1.5-litre
  • Road tax: £180

One of the most cost-efficient diesels available today, the Octavia comes out on top against some of the more premium family cars. Interior space shouldn’t be a problem as the manufacturers have increased the distance between the front and rear axles to give passenger’s more legroom.

Lexus ES

  • Price: From £40,000
  • mpg: 53
  • Engine:  2.5-litre
  • Road tax: £170

Lexus and luxury go hand in hand and the ES keeps that tradition alive and well. A hybrid with all the premium trimmings, one of the car’s more standout features has to be the digital door mirrors, think small cameras rather than wide wings, that not only look futuristic but reduce air resistance and fuel use.

Kia Niro Hybrid 4

  • Price: From £34,660
  • mpg: 60
  • Engine: 1.6-litre
  • Road tax: £170

The Niro Hybrid is sprinkled with smart design touches that set it apart from similar-priced family SUVs. Boomerang-shaped backlights, two-tone paintwork, and Kia’s trademark tiger grille give this ‘crossover’ a sleek look while being one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market.

CitrOen C4 Sense

  • Price: From £21,580
  • mpg: 57
  • Engine: 1.5-litre
  • Road tax: £180

A fairly priced family SUV, the Citroen C4 Sense will get all your passengers from A to B in comfort. If you invest in one of the higher-priced models you even get a small slide-out tray on the passenger side to clip in a tablet. A fuel-efficient car that’s perfect for long journeys with the kids.

Toyota Corolla Hybrid

  • Price: From £30,225
  • mpg: 64.1
  • Engine: 1.8-litre
  • Road tax: £170

The Corolla has been around for six decades and some might argue that it’s never looked so good. Available exclusively as a hybrid, the hatchback comes in a choice of 4 trims with a 10.5-inch infotainment system and wireless phone charging as standard.

Mercedes C-Class

  • Price: From £46,560
  • mpg: 62.8
  • Engine: 2-litre
  • Road tax: £180

Stylish, sophisticated and surprisingly fuel-efficient, the C-Class is at the pricier end of the cars on our list. If you really want to splash out and go for the Premium Plus trim, you’ll get a panoramic sliding sunroof and 19-inch alloy wheels. Fuel-efficiency never looked so good.

Mazda 2 Hybrid

  • Price: From £23,730
  • mpg: 74
  • Engine: 1.5-litre
  • Road tax: £180

A self-charging supermini that really goes the distance. The Mazda 2 Hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. If you need a compact city car that won’t break the bank, look no further.

Suzuki Swift

  • Price: From £16,599
  • mpg: 59.7
  • Cost per mile: 10.7p
  • Engine: 1.2-litre
  • Road tax: £170

The cheapest fuel-efficient car on our list is also one of the smallest but it delivers plenty of kit in its supermini-sized frame. With a tight turning circle, collision mitigation system and hill hold control, you can whizz around town with satisfying ease.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

  • Price: From £22,125
  • mpg: 68.8
  • Engine: 1.5-litre
  • Road tax: £170

Another fuel-efficient city car that won’t hurt your pocket. The Yaris Hybrid packs in a smart collision detection system, adaptive cruise control and an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay™ & Android Auto™. With a reversing camera too, you get a lot for your money.

How can I cover more miles in my car?

Even if you don’t have the most fuel-efficient car, there’s still some simple things you can do to use less fuel.

One easy fix could be removing roof and cycle racks your car to give you less wind resistance. The result? You save on fuel.

Turning off your air conditioning is another way to cut down on fuel, while braking using your gears instead of going heavy on the pedals is good for your fuel consumption and your brake pads.

For more advice about how to drive more economically, read our blog on how to maximise fuel-efficiency.

How much do journeys cost in a fuel-efficient car?

If you want to plan ahead and see how much journeys would cost in a fuel-efficient car you need to know the distance you plan to travel and the cost of fuel.

To get the latest average costs for petrol and diesel in the UK you use our Fuel Price Tracker.

What will my first tax payment be on a fuel-efficient car?

Road tax payments are decided by your car’s CO2 emissions rather than its fuel efficiency.

The table groups petrol cars together with diesel cars that meet the Real Driving Emissions 2 (RDE2) standard. If you’re not sure whether a diesel car meets the standard, you can ask the manufacturer for more details.

Here’s what you’ll pay when you first register your car:

O2 emissions

Diesel cars that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars

All other diesel cars

Alternative fuel cars

0g/km

£0

£0

£0

1 to 50g/km

£10

£30

£0

51 to 75g/km

£30

£130

£20

76 to 90g/km

£130

£165

£120

91 to 100g/km

£165

£185

£155

101 to 110g/km

£185

£210

£175

111 to 130g/km

£210

£255

£200

131 to 150g/km

£255

£645

£245

151 to 170g/km

£645

£1,040

£635

171 to 190g/km

£1,040

£1,565

£1,030

191 to 225g/km

£1,565

£2,220

£1,555

226 to 255g/km

£2,220

£2,605

£2,210

Over 255g/km

£2,605

£2,605

£2,595

 

What will my second and later tax payments be on a fuel-efficient car?

Second and later payments for road tax depend on the fuel type of your car rather than its fuel efficiency.

Here’s the road tax payments you’ll make from 12 months onwards:

Fuel type

Single 12 month payment

Single 12 month payment by Direct Debit

Total of 12 monthly payments by Direct Debit

Single 6 month payment

Single 6 month payment by Direct Debit

Petrol or diesel

£180

£180

£189

£99

£94.50

Electric

£0

N/A

N/A

£0

N/A

Alternative

£170

£170

£178.50

£93.50

£89.25

 

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Original article written 1st July 2019, updated 6th September 2023