Economical cars: The best and the worst

Real-world fuel testing shows up the stars and the sinners

Over 2015 the What Car? crew tested over 160 cars to see how their real fuel consumption compared to the claims from the manufacturers. As ever, the discrepancies were striking in some instances. Also striking was the sheer divergence of consumption in the different vehicles, from less than 19mpg up to 64mpg. 

Here we name the most frugal and the most guzzling of cars. 

Best Performing

Toyota Auris Icon VVT-I Hybrid - official 78.5mpg: True MPG 64.0mpg 

Our top-placed car managed 54.3mpg in city driving and 73.7mpg out on the motorways. The petrol-electric hybrid is one of the least fuel-guzzling cars on the road. 

Suzuki Celerio SZ3 Dual Jet - official 78.4mpg: True MPG 62.9mpg 

There’s a bit of a discrepancy between claims and reality, but this little Suzuki can top 60mpg whether it’s in the city or the countryside. 

Audi A3 Ultra - official 83.1mpg: True MPG 62.3mpg

This 1.6-litre turbodiesel actually hit 67.5mpg on the motorways, so it does match up to its claims of being very economical. 

Vauxhall Corsa CDTi SRi Ecoflex S/S - official 85.6mpg: True MPG 60.0mpg 

Ouch. Note the gap between claimed and actual fuel consumption is a massive 25mpg. However, this is a competitively priced car with good space inside, and it still tops 60mpg. 

Hyundai i20 SE CRDi - official 68.9mpg: True MPG 59.4mpg 

None of the cars here came close to matching their claimed figures, but the i20 came closest, being shy by about 14%. The 1.4-litre turbodiesel can almost make 60mpg in the real world. 

Mazda CX-3 SE-L Nav - official 70.6mpg: True MPG 58.6mpg 

The latest Mazda in the line-up managed 59.6mpg when it was out of town, so the 1.5-litre turbodiesel can hold its head up. 

Worst Performing

Range Rover Sport SVR - official 22.1mpg: True MPG 18.8mpg

In outright terms, the claim disparity is only just over 3mpg, compared to the 25mpg of the Vauxhall Corsa. But then again, it can only manage 18.8mpg overall which makes for a painful and plentiful experience at the pumps. But then, it’s a big, fast Range Rover so who’s surprised?

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS - official 18.5mpg: True MPG 19.5mpg 

Well, here’s a first. A powerful and fast Vauxhall that can actually do better consumption than even the factory claims. Hats off to the VXR8 GTS. 

Porsche Cayenne Turbo - official 25.2mpg: True MPG 20.7mpg 

A turbocharged SUV is never going to be a frugal sipper, and the Cayenne Turbo is no exception. Even so, in the extra-urban cycle Porsche claimed 32.5mpg while we recorded 23.6mpg. That’s a big gap, although in fairness, in town the discrepancy was just 2 per cent. Still, 20mpg isn’t going to win any green awards. 

Comments