With so many fuel-efficient options out there it can be difficult to find the best cheap-to-run car in this world of increasingly stringent emission laws and ever-rocketing fuel prices. To help you out we’ve compiled this list of 25 extremely frugal cars and divided it by the type of fuel it uses.
Cheapest to run petrol cars
Petrol cars have come a long way in terms of fuel economy in recent years thanks to modern technology such as direct fuel injection and cylinder-on-demand systems. They tend to cost less than their diesel-powered equivalents to buy and all the cars in our top five are free to tax thanks to their sub-99g/km CO2 emissions.
Petrol-powered cars are also more suited to city drivers who only travel short distances because out on the motorway those quoted mpg figures start going down at an alarming pace, and they don’t take as long to warm up as diesels.
Cheapest to run diesel cars
Modern diesel-powered cars are usually more fuel efficient than petrol equivalents with the same power output and their drivers have to stop and fill up less frequently. However, diesel fuel has historically been slightly more expensive than petrol and diesel engined models are always slightly more expensive to buy.
Yes, all cars in this top five list have impressive fuel consumption figures, but they tend to have higher asking prices than petrol cars so you have to do a lot of miles to recoup the expense in fuel savings. So if you regularly travel long distances and don’t want to frequently stop for fuel the diesel may be the way to go.
Cheapest to run hybrid cars
In theory, a hybrid vehicle should be the best of both worlds. Hybrids usually combine an internal combustion engine with at least one electric motor. In theory, you should get the low-down shove and silent running of the electric motor around town and the high-speed flexibility of the petrol engine once you’re out of it. But that’s in theory.
In reality, hybrid cars are slower, worse to drive and more expensive than their diesel equivalents. To incentivise you into buying more of these eco-friendly cars the Government has a series of grants which can save you up to £2,500. There’s also no road tax to pay, so in terms of running costs, hybrids make a lot of sense.
Cheapest to run plug-in hybrids
Plug-in hybrids are sort of an evolution of conventional hybrids because they give you the opportunity to never fill up with petrol provided you have a very short commute and an electricity charging spot at both ends.
That means a very limited number of buyers will be able to enjoy the full benefits of PHEVs, but for those few the running costs will be very low indeed. Not only do you get free road tax and no London congestion charge to pay, but also PHEVs qualify for the bigger government grant that can be up to £5,000.
Cheapest to run electric cars
One of the first all-electric cars came out in 1888 and by the turn of the century, electric cars were the preferred method of transport. However, most of the drawbacks of those horseless carriages are still present in the electric cars of today. Things like poor range and long recharge times are the main reasons people shy away from this emission-free mode of transportation.
However, there are clear benefits to owning an all-electric car. Firstly, London’s congestion zone will become more and more stringent on CO2 emissions, but with an electric car you shouldn’t worry because it doesn’t emit anything. The powerful acceleration off the lights along with the planted handling are less running-cost-influential, but still, good reasons you should go all-electric.
If running costs are a concern then chances are you’ll want to get a car that’s also cheap to insure – so check out our list of cars with cheap insurance to help keep those costs down.