Electric cars might not be for everyone just yet, but there’s one aspect of running an EV that no owner seems to miss – standing beside a fuel pump, watching their savings tick away at an ever-increasing rate.
The vehicles below won’t stop that experience but some can certainly minimise it – every car here achieves more than 80 mpg on the official European combined cycle.
Those figures may be hard to hit in the real world but the upshot is you’re still getting a vehicle that squeezes all it can out of every gallon. The guy in your local fuel station will hardly recognise you…
10. Volvo V40 D2
We reckon it’s pretty impressive that an upscale hatchback like the Volvo V40 gets as much as 83 mpg. Specifically, you’ll be looking at the 1.6 diesel D2 model, which kicks off at £20,345 in ES trim. The interior is a masterpiece and the exterior isn’t bad either – it’s probably the most stylish car here.
9. Smart Fortwo CDi
For a long while, the Smart Fortwo CDi held the title of most economical car on sale in the UK. Possibly even the world, its 85.6 mpg combined rating dwarfing that of other cars several years ago. Many have now caught up but the Fortwo CDi will still prove hugely economical in everyday driving and if you live in the city, parking it couldn’t be easier.
8. Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi EcoFLEX
The poor Vauxhall Corsa is getting on a bit these days, and younger, fresher rivals have started making it look old-hat. It’s still a solid product though, and for £14,340 you can pick up the 85.6 mpg 1.3 CDTi EcoFLEX in S trim. With 95 horses raging under the bonnet performance isn’t bad either – 60 mph will arrive in a twinkle over 12 seconds.
7. Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic
With identical power and identical economy to the Corsa above, the Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic instead grabs your attention by being great fun to drive, like any other Fiesta. In fact, it’s probably the best car here for tackling a twisty road, and in basic Style trim it only requires a few hundred quid over the Corsa to put one on your driveway.
6. Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue
With a buzzScore of 7 for the 1.1 CRDi model, the Hyundai i20 is a pretty good fuel-saving choice. Despite the meagre 1.1-litre capacity it isn’t bad on the road either. It feels quicker than the 15.7-second 0-60 mph time suggests and the three-cylinder engine isn’t as harsh as some four-cylinder rivals either. 88.3 mpg is your prize for selecting the £11,795 i20 Blue.
5. Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi Ecodynamics
As the i20’s cousin, it’s no surprise to discover the Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi Ecodynamics shares its engine, power output and economy. It’s actually a little quicker at 14.9 seconds to 60 mph, and only £100 more expensive in ‘1’ Ecodynamics trim (higher grades cut down your economy slightly). The real news though is that it’s simply a better car than the i20 – more stylish, and a higher-quality product.
What’s the Rio 1.1 CRDi like to live with? Click here to find out.
4. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi ECO
More stylish and higher quality than before, the new Renault Clio is also one of the most economical vehicles on sale, in 1.5 dCi ECO trim. It costs a fiver more than the Corsa above if you plump for the Expression+ model, but it’s a whole lot more stylish, a little quicker to accelerate and manages 88.3 mpg combined.
3. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
The Toyota Prius has already developed quite a reputation for economy, but the Plug-In Hybrid version takes that a step further. Its 134 mpg is highly dependent on how you drive – and how frequently you plug in to make the most of its 15-miles of electric power – but over short commutes it’s about as economical as cars get. The price will rule it out for many though – it starts at £33,245.
You can also read our own thoughts on the Prius Plug-in.
2. Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid
Another pricey model, the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is nevertheless a hugely likeable car. Its £48,775 price tag gets you a 285-horsepower all-wheel drive estate (one of the most stylish on the roads) with a combined 155 mpg rating. Even Volvo says that’ll be hard to hit, but fully charged you’ll tottle around town for 30 miles on electric power alone. It’s supremely comfortable over longer trips, too.
Click here for our own review of the V60 Plug-In Hybrid.
1. Chevrolet Volt & Vauxhall Ampera
The Chevrolet Volt and its Vauxhall Ampera cousin top our list here. Its 235.4 mpg rating is entirely down to the way cars are assessed in the European fuel economy testing, but its 50-odd mile electric range means most commuters will barely use a drop of petrol. Of course, it’ll still handle those longer journeys too, where you’ll appreciate each car’s excellent cabins and luxury-car refinement.
We’ve tried out the Volt ourselves – click here for our full review.