Most economical cars on sale in 2016

Jul 1, 2016

Looking for a new car but worried about running costs? Here are some solid choices to chew over.

The cost of motoring, regardless of petrol prices, remains a key factor for many consumers when opting to buy a new car.

While some opt for an electric or plug-in hybrid model in a bid to lower the cost of getting from A to B, others find it isn't feasible to be dependent on cars without a support network as substantial as the UK's near 8,500 petrol stations. Electric cars can also be expensive to buy and suffer from huge depreciation, while range anxiety remains a key issue – many believe the vehicles aren't quite there yet in terms of how far they can go on a single charge.

Here are several cars that are reasonably priced and will go a long way between trips to the pumps.

Peugeot 208 1.6 Blue HDi

Auto Express lists the 208 1.6 Blue HDi as the most economical option if you don't want a hybrid or range extender.

Peugeot's latest engine range is focussed on efficiency and the 208 Blue's 1.6-litre diesel can achieve up to 94.1mpg on the combined cycle. Three engines are available, in 75bhp, 100bhp and 120bhp states of tune.

The 75bhp option does not come with the stop/start function specced as standard on the other models, but it does emit just 79g/km CO2 and is priced from £13,995 in "Access" trim.

Peugeot 308 Blue HDi

Perfect for those tempted by the figures of the 208 but in need of scaling up, the larger 308 Blue model also returns extremely impressive miles per gallon.

CarBuyer notes it has shed a considerable amount of weight compared to its 307 predecessor, not only making it cheaper to run but also fun to drive. The car has lost 308lbs, which, when tied to the efficiency engine, means it returns 91.1mpg and 82g/km of CO2 on a combined cycle with the 120bhp 1.6 model, which starts from £20,045 and is road-tax exempt.

Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CTDi ecoFlex

The most economical version of the Vauxhall Corsa – of which 92,077 were registered in the UK in 2015 – is the 1.3 CTDi ecoFlex model.

Is this spec, the 95bhp diesel-powered 1.3 Corsa will return 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 85g/km.

One of the real party pieces of the current generation Corsa is its price. The new model starts at just £8,995, undercutting some key rivals by four figures. However, the most economical choice comes at a premium. The 1.3 ecoFlex Corsa starts from £14,990 - a lot of money to fork out on a car starting from under nine grand.

Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi

The cheapest version of the 1.1 litre Kia Rio is priced from £12,245, but generates fuel consumption figures that "almost defy credibility", says the RAC.

The 74bhp three-cylinder diesel engine will see you get 88.3mpg and emit only 85g/km of CO2. And despite being a supermini, dimensions inside and boot space are impressive. It also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and comes with the manufacturer's 100,000-mile seven-year warranty.

It's a sensible choice on paper but despite a fairly cheap price and low running costs, the entry level version of the Rio 1.1 CRDi has been criticised for not quite matching up to its rivals in terms of equipment. Maybe the best choice for those on a tight budget.

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

Auto Express proclaims the Fiesta ECOnetic to be a great choice for motorists who want good economy without compromising on driving fun. The 1.5-litre TDCi ECOnetic version posts 85.6mpg and 87g/km CO2.

The Fiesta often comes out top of polls regarding the best driving C-Segment hatchbacks and Auto Express says the ECOnetic "retains the brilliant driving dynamics that have helped make the Fiesta a consistent top seller over the years".

The entry level ECOnetic fiesta is the 1.5 "Style" with 95bhp and stop/start technology as standard. It starts from £15,195.

Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi

Unlike the Fiesta, the Citroen C4 can't match its rivals when it comes to driving feel, although CarBuyer says it still offers low running costs, great practicality and comfort, making it an ideal economical car for motorway slogs.

In particular, the 1.6-litre BlueHDi car in Feel trim is an efficient and comfortable machine. Citroen claims just under 86mpg for the most frugal version of its family hatchback and while the soft suspension means the C4 isn't sharp, it's certainly a cosy place to be.

The interior is well made and comfortable and there's plenty of space up front for the driver and a passenger. However, space in the back isn't huge and the C4 serves up a 408-litre boot.

CO2 emissions come in at 86g/km, so this C4 is road tax free. Prices for the BlueHDI Feel start from £17,980, but the same engine can be bought on lower trim levels – on entry level Touch cars, it delivers 79mpg and starts from around £1,000 less.

Honda Civic 1.6i-DTEC

While MPG figures are sourced through official government testing procedures, many buyers prefer to base their purchases on real-world testing - and the Honda Civic 1.6i-DTEC comes out on top, according to What Car?.

Honda claims its Civic 1.6i-DTEC delivers up to 78.5mpg on a combined drive. However, tests on UK roads show it musters 67.2mpg.

The Civic is a spacious, good-to-drive family hatchback, although not quite on par with class leaders such as the Volkswagen Golf in terms of overall quality. Prices start at £19,400 and with CO2 emissions of 94g/km, you don't have to worry about tax.

Hyundai i20 CRDi Blue S

Official tests peg the Hyundai i20 CRDi Blue S as one of the most economical cars on sale, with figures as high as 88.3mpg in official testing. As such, Auto Express lists it as one of the cars you should consider for small fuel bills.

It uses a 1.1-litre diesel engine with 74bhp and emits 84g/km CO2, so again, it's free of road tax.

Auto Express is quick to point out that this is one slow car, though. It does 0-62mph in 16secs, which could be frustrating. However, it's an easy car to drive, especially around town, and the tall profile means there's generous amounts of space and equipment is generous. The Blue S comes in at £12,690.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

While the Outlander PHEV's efficiency scores aren't fully down to its engine – it's a plug-in hybrid, so you'll need some care and attention charging it – it does offer something different to everything else on this list and could draw you to electrifying a part of your daily driving: it's an SUV.

It boasts a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as well as two electric motors, one on the front axle and the other on the rear, making up a four-wheel drive.

As Autocar explains, the engine management systems decide how to divvy up responsibilities for the electric motors, either driving the wheels themselves or being used as generators to replenish the on-board battery pack. At motorway speeds, the 2.0-litre engine is likely to take over, while it will spend most of its time on the road as a generator for the battery.

It has an official figure of 156mpg while the 42g/km CO2 figure means that it is road-tax free.

Being a plug-in hybrid, it's eligible for a £2,500 government grant, bringing the starting price of the in entry level GX3h trim down to £31,749 - and Autocar says it's a "wise buy".

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