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Most economical cars 2024

  • Our guide to the most economical cars on sale today
  • Cut your running costs with these economical options
  • The new cars in 2024 with the best MPG figures

Written by Graham King Published: 16 January 2024 Updated: 15 February 2024

As the cost of living continues to rise uncomfortably high, you may be looking to buy one of the most economical cars that’s as affordable as possible to run. An electric car is surely the obvious answer, right? Well, not necessarily. You see, there are still a lot of internal combustion cars that return very high fuel economy and are well worth considering. Not only do these cars cost little to run, even compared to an electric car, they cost quite a lot less to buy in the first place.

Here, we’re going to look at the top ten most efficient cars available to buy new in the UK right now. The list is based on the best average MPG a car can return, as measured on the WLTP cycle. We’re using ‘best case’ figures that don’t take account of any effect optional extras like different wheels have on MPG.

The list is dominated by self-charging hybrids and diesels, proving there’s still some life left in the black pump. We haven’t included plug-in hybrids or electric cars because their efficiency is measured differently. Hatchbacks of various sizes are more numerous than other body styles, though a single MPV makes the list.

We also have a list of the most economical small vans you can buy that you may want to check out.

Top 10 most economical cars 2024

Toyota-based self-charging supermini is the efficiency champion

The Mazda 2 Hybrid is basically the same car as the popular and frugal Toyota Yaris. There are only minor differences between the two – badges, wheels, equipment packages – and yet somehow Mazda has managed to make the 2 Hybrid go another 5.4 miles on a gallon of fuel.

We haven’t actually had the opportunity to test the car, so we can’t say definitively what it’s capable of. However, it’s a solid bet that everything we’ve said about the Yaris applies here: the Mazda should be economical, reliable, good to drive, and a doddle to live with. It even costs about the same as the Toyota, but it does have a smaller range of trim levels.

To find out more, read our full Mazda 2 review


  • It’ll cost very little to run
  • Should be as reliable as Toyota counterpart
  • And as easy to drive


  • Lacks its own identity
  • Not especially practical

The masters of hybrid deliver a very efficient supermini

The latest Toyota Yaris is only available with self-charging hybrid power and the efficiency it achieves is a big factor in it being Toyota’s best-selling car in the UK. It only has a fairly short battery-powered range but it’s sufficient to cover a large portion of urban journeys, and it can even stay in EV mode up to motorway speeds. The electric motor can assist the engine when needed, providing usefully nippy acceleration. It’s very easy to drive, too.

The Yaris still looks fresh and funky despite its growing familiarity. The interior isn’t up to the same mark as some rivals but it’s user-friendly, built solidly and you get plenty of tech. Back seat and boot space aren’t especially generous, though.

To find out more, read our full Toyota Yaris review


  • Excellent dealer support
  • Good to drive
  • Industry-leading warranty


  • Uninspiring interior
  • Sub-par practicality

Hybrid supermini impresses with refinement and performance

In E-Tech form, the Renault Clio is one of the better self-charging hybrids. Its 145hp translates to zippy acceleration around town and it has a usefully long EV range. The gearbox takes a couple of beats to wake up if you clog the accelerator, but when it gets going it feels rather punchy. It’s comfortable and refined enough to drive across France in a day, too.

The Clio’s interior is first-rate, perhaps a little dull-looking but logically laid out and very well made with high quality materials. Passenger space is sufficient rather than generous, the batteries eat into the E-Tech’s boot but it’s still pretty big for a supermini. All trim levels are available in E-Tech form, but the Esprit Alpine and Techno variants are a little less economical.

To find out more, read our full Renault Clio review


  • Punchy acceleration
  • Refinement
  • Great interior


  • Gearbox can be lethargic
  • Not the sharpest handler

Hugely impressive economy for an MPV

We’re counting the Ford Tourneo Connect as another VW Group car on this list because it’s actually a rebadged Volkswagen Caddy – a unique front bumper creates its Ford identity. It’s remarkable that an MPV makes the list most economical cars. You don’t trade efficiency for performance, either – the 122hp engine hauls the Connect pretty effortlessly. It’s a bit noisy in the box-shaped body, though.

The van-based Connect is enormously spacious and practical. Five adults fit easily and Ford claims over 1000 litres of boot space. Sliding back doors make so much sense on a family car. It drives neatly, rides smoothly, there’s a panoramic view out. Automatic gearboxes and seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect models are less efficient, but not by much.

To find out more, read our full Ford Tourneo Connect review


  • Van-like space
  • Sliding back doors
  • Surprisingly nimble


  • Huge, heavy tailgate
  • Costs more than VW counterpart

The most family-friendly midsize hatchback

It seems curious that the biggest midsize hatchback to use Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre diesel is the most efficient. But the Skoda Octavia is more aerodynamic than the others listed here, which is why it returns the best economy. It’s heavier, so doesn’t feel as spritely as its counterparts, but it still lopes along motorways perfectly happily.

Efficiency aside, vast space and practicality remain key to the Octavia’s appeal. No other car this size seats five adults so comfortably and its boot is more capacious than many estates. It’s oh-so comfortable to travel in and its interpretation of VW’s latest infotainment system is more user-friendly. The 116hp engine is only available with SE Technology trim, hatchback with manual ‘box achieves best economy.

To find out more, read our full Skoda Octavia review


  • Comfortable on long trips
  • Huge space
  • Top-notch build quality


  • Single trim level for this engine
  • Not quick

The go-to midsize hatchback works well with diesel

Volkswagen pioneered diesel engines in small cars with the original Mk1 Golf over 40 years ago and the benchmark midsize hatchback still upholds that tradition. The engine that makes it one of the most economical cars is exactly the same as that fitted to many other cars and it integrates into the refined Golf really well. Choose between six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearboxes.

Reservations about the Golf’s fiddly touchpad heater controls and glitchy infotainment system persist. That aside, it’s a comfortable and hassle-free means of going about your business. It looks good, too. The hatchback in Life trim with a manual gearbox is most efficient, and other trim levels and the estate body are also available with this engine.

To find out more, read our full Volkswagen Golf review


  • Quiet and refined cruiser
  • Practicality
  • Poised handling


  • Only entry-level trim achieves this mpg
  • Should be more user-friendly

Brilliant, high-tech interior enhances this wallet-friendly hatchback

This new variant of the sleek-looking 208 hatchback employs mild hybrid technology and a frugal 1.2-litre petrol engine. The net result is an economical hatch, with decent performance, that's capable of averaging up to 65.9mpg.

Peugeot's modern 208 has a lot to offer elsewhere, too. It has a lot of character, rides smoothly, and its interior really impresses; it’s the technological tour de force of the supermini class with a 3D digital display that shows vital stats like speed in front of the windscreen. It looks brilliant and is easy to read. But the split-level dashboard creates a driving position that can be awkward.

To find out more, read our full Peugeot 208 review


  • Stylish and desirable
  • Very refined on the motorway
  • Good to drive


  • Rear legroom is tight
  • Infotainment can be fiddly

Distinctive midsize hatchback offers very long range

The Peugeot 308 is among the Stellantis products to appear on this list of the most economical cars. It’s fitted with the most powerful 130hp version of the widely used 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engine which, in the 308, comes paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a good motorway cruiser that can deliver a range of over 700 miles on a full tank of fuel.

The 308’s driving position won’t suit everyone, but it should be fine if you’re under six feet tall. The seats are pleasantly supportive on a long drive. Lots of infotainment and connectivity options to keep you entertained, as well. Every 308 trim level, and both hatchback and estate bodies are available with the BlueHDi engine.

To find out more, read our full Peugeot 308 review


  • Sharp looks
  • Premium interior
  • Big boot


  • Awkward driving position
  • Handling lacks sparkle

An appealing small SUV with capable hybrid tech

Yes, it's a taller version of Toyota's successful Yaris supermini. And, like the Yaris on which it is based, it's equipped with a clever hybrid powertrain. It's very easy to drive, quiet, economical, and pleasingly responsive. So, don't scratch this off your list if you've driven older hybrids and not like how they've performed – it's a very different beast.

The appeal of the Yaris Cross goes beyond its economy and fine driving manners, though. It's also reliable, available with a ten-year warranty, and it offers up lots of space. You'll find it a bit more expensive than some rivals, though, and it is a bit dull inside. Alternatively, look at the Kia Niro and C3 Aircross, as both can be had with engines that are capable of returning the same economy.

To find out more, read our Yaris Cross review


  • Impressive warranty and reliability
  • Excellent hybrid technology
  • Drives well


  • Interior isn't interesting
  • Not much in the way of charm

Sensible and economical transport

If you're shopping for a hatchback, you'll probably be looking at options such as the Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra. But if you want something that's economical, and terrifically reliable, the Toyota Corolla should top your list. It's also smartly styled, comfortable, and it's offered with a stellar ten-year warranty.

There's also the option of the Touring Sports model, if you need a more spacious estate. Or, perhaps if the dealer is a bit more local or you have an existing affiliation with them, you could look at the Suzuki Swace – which is Suzuki's version of the Corolla.

To find out more, read our full Toyota Corolla review


  • Economical in real-world conditions
  • Runs in EV mode a lot of the time
  • Fuss-free ownership experience


  • Dull to drive
  • Limited rear room