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The best fast AND economical cars

  • Great performance doesn't have to mean poor fuel economy
  • From Porsche to Peugeot, and everything in-between
  • Choose which fast economical car would suit you

Performance cars are now cheaper to run than ever thanks to the choice of powerful diesel engines, cleaner turbocharged petrols and accessible hybrid technology.

The best fast, economical cars

Here we’ve picked our favourite performance cars with high mpg, capable of sprinting from 0-60mph in less than seven seconds, but promising more than 40mpg if you drive carefully.

Make sure you visit our finance section for advice on purchasing your next car, and get a valuation for your existing one here

BMW 335d Touring

BMW 3-Series Touring - fast economical cars

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better “sleeper” car than the powerful yet subtly styled 3 Series Touring, especially with a rapid six-cylinder diesel engine.

It’s a very flexible engine with 630Nm of torque to help you waft along, and 308bhp means it can comfortably crack the 0-60mph sprint in under five seconds - only half a second slower than the petrol-powered M3 saloon! It’s about a fast as an entry-level Porsche 911 coupe, and half the price.

Despite this it has a claimed economy of 49mpg and a boot big enough to cope with the annual family holiday – there’s 495 litres back there, and 1,500 litres if you drop the rear seats.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 5 stars
  • Our pick: 335d xDrive M Sport 5d Auto
  • New price: £27,080 - £43,090 
  • Used price: £9,305 - £31,415
  • Fuel economy: 34 - 70 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 4.7 seconds

View the latest BMW 3 Series cars for sale

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST - fast economical cars

Making yet another appearance in a Parkers feature is the multi-talented, surprisingly cheap and fantastically fun Ford Fiesta ST.

It’s not the fastest sprinter here with a 0-60mph time of 6.7 seconds but we’re more impressed with the way the Fiesta delivers its turbocharged power, and the great sound it makes while doing so.

Plus, it’s an absolute hoot on twisty B-roads and better yet promises 47mpg for those moments of more sedate driving. We’ve picked ST-3 spec as it’s still under £20,000 and gets you a handy sat-nav and cool illuminated scuff plates.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 5 stars
  • Our pick: 1.6 EcoBoost ST-3 3d
  • New price: £18,215 - £20,215 
  • Used price: £7,930 - £15,455 
  • Fuel economy: 47 - 47 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 6.7 seconds

View the latest Ford Fiesta ST cars for sale

Porsche Panamera Hybrid

Porsche Panamera - fast economical cars

Pitched as a sort of stretched-911, this four-seater limo is Porsche's first-ever saloon and looks unusual from some angles, but there’s no denying its speed and – in this hybrid version – impressive economy.

A combination of V6 petrol and electric power will propel this car from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds, despite its considerable size.

The inclusive of the battery-powered motor also means the Panamera Hybrid promises a frankly baffling economy of 91mpg – the highest figure on our list.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our pick: 3.0 V6 S E-Hybrid Tiptronic S
  • New price: £68,753 - £146,600 
  • Used price: £64,685 - £93,935 
  • Fuel economy: 30 - 42 mpg 
  • 0-60mph: 5.3 seconds

View the latest Porsche Panamera cars for sale

VW Scirocco TSI

VW Scirocco - fast economical cars

Based on the Volkswagen Golf, the Scirocco brings its hatchback sibling’s inherent practicality and frugal running costs to the coupe market.

There’s a diesel-engined Scirocco sitting at the pragmatic end of the scale but it wasn’t fast enough for our list. For a sub-seven second 0-60mph time you’ll want the 2-litre petrol version.

This manages the benchmark sprint in 6.3 seconds if you pick the fast-shifting DSG automatic box, plus Volkswagen reckons on 44mpg from the BlueMotion version.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our pick: 2.0 TSI BlueMotion Tech GTS 3d DSG
  • New price: £21,695 - £31,385 
  • Used price: £4,940 - £22,890 
  • Fuel economy: 37 - 67 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 6.3 seconds

View the latest Volkswagen Scirocco cars for sale

SEAT Leon Cupra 290 Tourer

SEAT Leon Cupra - fast economical cars

When this generation of SEAT Leon Cupra first came out it was available with two power outputs, the top being 276bhp.

Now though the Spanish hot hatch has been given a horsepower boost to help it keep up with talented rivals like the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS, so it has 286bhp, plus in estate form, a big boot too.

While you might not notice the increase unless you drive the two cars back-to-back, the Cupra has always been extremely quick so a power hike is no bad thing. Especially when it's still reportedly capable of 41mpg and a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4.5 stars
  • Our pick: 2.0 TSI Cupra 290 Sport Tourer 5d
  • New price: £26,480 - £34,090 
  • Used price: £13,015 - £24,835 
  • Fuel economy: 41 - 43 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 5.8 seconds

View the latest SEAT Leon cars for sale

Mercedes-Benz SLC 250d

Mercedes-Benz SLC - fast economical cars

The newly named SLC replaces the old SLK, and like the former car it also comes in a hot diesel version claiming a whopping 70mpg while still being capable of a 6.4 second 0-60mph time.

You get a folding hard-top roof and stylish Mercedes looks inside and out, plus the engine is whisper-quiet on the move and provides a powerful, bassy rumble too, while being one of the top cars for mpg in our list.

It doesn’t provide sports car thrills in the same way as a Porsche Boxster would, but it’s a fun and smart-looking thing nonetheless – plus it has the highest mile per gallon figure for any non-hybrid on our list.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our pick: SLC 250d AMG Line
  • New price: £31,095 - £40,000 
  • Used price: £18,220 - £28,730 
  • Fuel economy: 43 - 70 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 6.4 seconds

View the latest Mercedes-Benz SLC cars for sale

Peugeot 208 GTi

Peugeot 208 - fast economical cars

Not quite in the same league as the Ford Fiesta ST but a really strong contender from Peugeot – the 208 GTi is the hottest hatchback the French manufacturer has made in years.

In terms of speed and economy the 208 is actually better than the Blue Oval’s effort, with 52mpg and a 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds.

It loses a little ground in the handling stakes, though, and you’ll also need a fair wedge more cash to get behind the wheel.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our pick: 1.6 THP GTi by Peugeot Sport 3d
  • New price: £21,330 - £23,060 
  • Used price: £6,925 - £14,635 
  • Fuel economy: 47 - 52 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 6.3 seconds

View the latest Peugeot 208 GTi cars for sale

Audi SQ5

Audi SQ5 - fast economical cars

A surprising car for several reasons – chief among which is the diesel engine under the bonnet, the first non-petrol unit to find its way into a proper performance Audi model.

As you would expect this endows the mid-size SUV with decent economy (42mpg) and prodigious pace – the SQ5 races from 0-60mph in a little under five seconds.

Where it really excels however is on a long run, as the raised ride height and extra dose of mid-range torque make it a leftfield but talented motorway cruiser.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our pick: SQ5 (326bhp) Quattro 5d Tip Auto
  • New price: £44,490 - £52,000 
  • Used price: £25,890 - £46,215 
  • Fuel economy: 42 - 42 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 4.9 seconds

View the latest Audi SQ5 cars for sale

RenaultSport Clio (2013-2016)

RenaultSport Clio - fast economical cars

Another strong contender in the small hot hatchback market is the RenaultSport Clio, a name that harks back to many affordable speed merchant models like the Clio Williams or 182 Trophy.

This version doesn’t quite hit the spot in the same way, largely due to its automatic gearbox which doesn’t have the same level of involvement as the old manual.

That said, it’s still a great steer and with the promise of 47mpg and a 0-60mph time of 6.4 seconds it’s easy to see the appeal.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our pick: 1.6T 16V RenaultSport Trophy Nav
  • New price: £19,000 - £21,650 
  • Used price: £8,020 - £16,110 
  • Fuel economy: 44 - 47 mpg
  • 0-60mph: 6.4 seconds

View the latest RenaultSport Clio cars for sale

Lotus Elise Sport

Lotus Elise - fast economical cars

A little leftfield, granted, but consider these numbers – 0-60mph in a neck-straining 4.2 seconds and a claimed fuel economy of 45mpg.

This performance (both in terms of speed and economy) is largely down to the Elise’s weight – well under a tonne – which also makes it a fantastic thing to drive.

It’s not something you’d really want to use every day but the Lotus Elise would make a superb weekend B-road weapon or track-day car.

Vital statistics

  • Parkers rating: 4 stars
  • Our pick: 1.8 Sport (220bhp) 2d
  • New price: £32,175 - £48,755 
  • Used price: £4,860 - £43,275 
  • Fuel economy: 32 - 45 mpg 
  • 0-60mph: 4.2 seconds

View the latest Lotus Elise cars for sale

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