The best and worst cars at achieving claimed fuel economy

James Foxall
Written by: James Foxall
Posted on: 16 June 2016

A car’s fuel economy can be a decisive factor when drivers choose a car to buy. So if that car doesn’t get anywhere near its claimed economy, it can be more than a little irritating. Yet that’s the reality facing the vast majority of drivers.

Official fuel economy figures – known as miles per gallon (mpg) - are recorded under laboratory conditions. In the real world, traffic conditions, gradients and even wind and rain all ensure the economy cars actually get is a lot lower. To reflect this, and help drivers be better informed when buying a car, independent company Emissions Analytics tests the economy of the latest cars on the road.

From the top 20 most economical cars currently on sale in the UK, here are the five that are closest to their official figure and five that are furthest away.

Five cars that get nearest to hitting their official fuel economy figure


1. Mazda3 Skyactiv D - Down 14%

Mazda3 Skyactiv D

Mazda3 Skyactiv D

The Mazda 3 hatchback is the Japanese firm’s VW Golf equivalent. It employs a relatively unstressed 2.2-litre turbo diesel to return 59.4mpg in day-to-day driving. That compares favourably with the claimed official figure of 68.9mpg.

2. Dacia Sandero dCi 90 – Down 17%

Dacia Sandero dCi 90

Dacia Sandero dCi 90

The Sandero is not only one of Britain’s cheapest cars but also one of the most likely to hit its claimed mpg. This model uses a 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine. The motor may not be the quietest around but it has such an easy life in the pint-size Sandero that it gives an impressive 61.7mpg. Its official consumption is 74.3mpg.

3. Mazda CX-3 – Down 17%

Mazda CX-3 – Down

Mazda CX-3 – Down

Just like the Mazda3 hatchback, the company’s small CX-3 crossover gives good results when driven in everyday conditions. This model uses a 1.5-litre turbo diesel to return a handy 58.6mpg - not far off the claimed figure of 70.6mpg.

4. Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDI – Down 18%

Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDI

Peugeot 308 2.0 BlueHDI

The chic French hatchback’s 58mpg is an impressive achievement, even if it is adrift of the claimed 70.6mpg. More importantly, it seems to confirm that larger engines find it easier to get near to their claimed mpg.

5. Suzuki Celerio Dual Jet – Down 20%

Suzuki Celerio Dual Jet

Suzuki Celerio Dual Jet

Out of all the petrol cars tested, this one comes closest to its claimed mpg. It’s also the first motor in the list to use unleaded. With a real-world economy of 62.9mpg, the tiny Celerio’s mpg is also second overall in the top 20 cars (a shade behind the 63.2mpg SEAT Leon).

Five cars that miss their official fuel economy figure


1. Skoda Octavia Estate TDI Greenline - Down 33%

Skoda Octavia Estate TDI Greenline

Skoda Octavia Estate TDI Greenline

The Czech estate was always going to struggle to match its claimed 88.3mpg economy. It duly misses it by around a third, recording a real-world figure of 59.4mpg. In hatchback form it’s only marginally better with a 30% discrepancy between claimed and reality.

2. Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDI – Down 31%

Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDI

Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDI

With the larger 2.0-litre engine, the Peugeot is one of the best when it comes to hitting its claimed mpg. It’s not so impressive with the smaller 1.6-litre turbo diesel. However, it fares better than the Octavia and shares its official 88.3mpg economy figures. In the real world it returns 60.8mpg.

3. Skoda Fabia TDI - Down 31%

Skoda Fabia TDI

Skoda Fabia TDI

Here’s another Skoda that misses the mark. But rather than the 1.6 turbo diesel, this model uses a 1.4-litre engine. In isolation, its 57.7mpg isn’t bad. But that’s of little consolation to drivers when it’s claimed to return 83.1mpg.

4. Vauxhall Corsa CDTI ecoFLEX – Down 30%

Vauxhall Corsa CDTI ecoFLEX

Vauxhall Corsa CDTI ecoFLEX

The big selling Vauxhall is popular with fleets, possibly because of the impressive 85.6mpg that makes it the second most economical car in this list… on paper. The reality is a bit different with a real-world figure of 60mpg recorded by Emissions Analytics.

5. SEAT Leon Ecomotive – Down 28%

SEAT Leon Ecomotive

SEAT Leon Ecomotive

In hatchback guise, the Leon is the most economical car in the real world with its 63.2mpg. However, as an estate its 61.5mpg doesn’t compare favourably with the car’s official 85.6mpg.


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