The most economical cars 2020

  • Looking for the most economical cars on sale today? 
  • Read through our list of cars with the best MPG figures
  • No hybrids or electric cars - find out why

Among motoring enthusiasts, there's a heavily trodden and cringe-inducing cliche about cars. And that's that cars should be about smiles per gallon, rather than miles per gallon. Meanwhile, in the real world, a car's MPG rating is nearly as important as its size or how much it costs when it comes to choosing your next set of wheels.

>> Cut through: Skip to the most economical cars

Which is why we've created this enumeration of economy. If it was just a list of the most economical cars for sale in the UK, it would simply be a roundup of plug-in hybrids - cars which incorporate a battery that you can charge, and then drive solely on electric power over short distances. This means that when it comes to testing, three-figure MPG ratings are achievable.

However, we've decided to pick just internal combustion engined cars for our list as we have dedicated hybrid sections elsewhere.

The observant among you will also note the lack of electric cars. Electric cars don't use petrol or diesel, so don't actually register an mpg rating, although MPGe is often used in the USA. This is an MPG equivalent for electric cars which is a measurement of the average distance traveled per unit of energy consumed.

A reminder - these are the officially rated WLTP testing figures. In the real world, despite being an improvement on the previous NEDC testing regime, it's still most likely you won't be able to achieve them. Although car MPG ratings are at least more precise than they once were.

Most economical petrol cars 2020

The most economical petrol cars on sale today are the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 - which both achieve an official rating of 58.9mpg.

The below list of the most economical cars in the UK are all diesel because generally, diesels are more economical than their petrol equivalents. 

Most economical cars 2020

Peugeot 208
Vauxhall Corsa
Volkswagen Golf
Renault Clio
SEAT Leon
Audi A3
Citroen C3
Skoda Octavia
Ford Fiesta
Vauxhall Astra


Peugeot 208 1.5 Blue HDi - 71.4mpg

2020 Peugeot 208 side

New in 2019, this second-generation Peugeot 208 is an altogether more fashionable and technology-filled offering than the previous car.

Headlining the technological overhaul is Peugeot's 3D digital display. This projects info like mph onto a display in front of the windscreen, while less vital stats are on a different one slightly further back. It looks brilliant and is easy to read.

The seating position and tiny steering wheel might be an uneasy matching if you're, say, below 5 foot 8 and like to sit low. But the 1.5-litre diesel engine will officially do more than 70mpg. A 10.2 second 0-62mph time isn't slow, but the engine does suffer a bit from turbo lag - meaning it can feel like it takes its sweet time to get going.*

>> Price new: from £16,845
>> Lease this car: from £204 per month
>> Search for a used Peugeot 208 on Parkers

Vauxhall Corsa 1.5 Turbo D - 70.6mpg

2019 Vauxhall Corsa

Like the Peugeot 208, the Vauxhall Corsa was new in 2019. And that's no coincidence as the 208 and Corsa are actually pretty much the same car underneath. That's because the Peugeot group (known as PSA) now owns Vauxhall, which means there's plenty of parts sharing.

The Peugeot has a fancier interior, but Vauxhall is going hard with finance offers. The company is currently offering 0% APR, no deposit, and 0% APR and no deposit deals.

Befitting of the caring and sharing ethos between Peugeot and Vauxhall, the Corsa uses the same 1.5-litre diesel as the 208. The six-speed manual gearbox (you guessed it, the same one as in the 208) ensures that there's little grumble from the engine at motorway speeds.*

>> Price new: from £15,925
>> Lease this car: from £191 per month
>> Search for a used Vauxhall Corsa on Parkers

Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI - 68.9mpg

2020 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen's offering petrol, mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and diesel versions of its new Golf to entice buyers. But it's the diesel engine that gets the nod for this list. And even with 115hp (the fastest petrol Golfs get 245hp), it's a surprisingly sharp thing to drive.

We've not driven this new less powerful diesel engine that's capable of 68.9mpg, but we have driven the slightly more powerful version and found it to be effortless in its power delivery.*

>> Price new: from £23,300
>> Lease this car: from £232 per month
>> Search for a used Volkswagen Golf on Parkers

Renault Clio 1.5 dCi - 67.3mpg

2020 Renault Clio

The supermini section is as hotly contested as a professional chilli eating competition. How does the Clio put distance between itself and the crowd?

Well the Renault is super-easy to drive. So much so, that it took home our coveted First Car of the Year award. Plus the interior is more pleasant than the usual, and the infotainment and the materials inside are certainly several steps above the old Clio.

The diesel engine is efficient, reasonably quiet, and smooth. Very economical too, obviously.*

>> Price new: from £15,295
>> Lease this car: from £163 per month
>> Search for a used Renault Clio on Parkers

SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI - 67.3mpg

2020 SEAT Leon review

If you've ever read a car review of a SEAT you'll know the drill. The Leon is a sharper-looking and slightly cheaper version of the Volkswagen Golf. That styling isn't revolutionary, but it is honed like Cristiano Ronaldo's abs. It looks especially good in SEAT's metallic Desire red (pictured) too.

We're yet to drive the Leon on UK roads, but we imagine it'll be similar enough to the Volkswagen Golf. Inside, the instruments are all-digital, which looks modern. But the dark colours are sober and a bit boring.*

>> Price new: from £19,855
>> Lease this car: from £162 per month
>> Search for a used SEAT Leon on Parkers

Audi A3 2.0 TDI - 67.3mpg

2020 Audi A3

Car buyers looking to inject a bit of premium polish into their lives, your gateway to poshness is here. Like the Leon above, the Audi is wrapped around familiar mechanical fixings in the shape of the VW Golf.

While that sounds a bit complex, it isn't. And it all works out. The A3 feels and drives like a bigger, posher Audi, while being the ideal size for an urban runaround. To get the magical 67.3mpg you'll need the least powerful diesel engine. It's not exactly quick, but emissions are usefully low, which benefits company car drivers.*

>> Price new: from £23,300
>> Lease this car: from £195 per month
>> Search for a Audi A3 on Parkers

Citroen C3 - 67mpg 

Citroen C3 side

While the SEAT two places above might market itself as a sporty alternative, this chunky Citroen does away with any sporting aspirations. The C3 is all about comfort, and is home to one of the softest suspension systems in the game. This results in drivers being protected from the worst of the potholes on the roads.

The 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel motor is the same one found in the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa further up this list. The C3 is a bit bigger than these cars, so represents good value for money.*

>> Price new: from £16,585
>> Lease this car:
 from £178 per month
>> Search for a Citroen C3 on Parkers

Skoda Octavia - 65.7mpg 

2020 Skoda Octavia

All-rounder is a term borrowed from cricket, meaning a player who can both bat and bowl well. The Octavia is easily as versatile as Ian Botham or Freddie Flintoff. It delivers practicality and passenger space from the class above. Truly, the Octavia offers Mondeo practicality for Focus money.

This latest version is aimed at being just that bit posher than previous cars. Big wheels and chrome grilles on the outside, and optional digital dials and (optional again)10.25-inch infotainment screens inside take care of this aspirational need. You'll be unsurprised to learn that the 2.0-litre diesel engine in this Octavia also plies its trade in the Golf, Leon, and A3 further up this list.*

>> Price new: from £22,390
>> Search for a Skoda Octavia on Parkers

Ford Fiesta - 65.7mpg 

2019 Ford Fiesta Trend

The bestselling car in the UK (well, for 2019 anyway) finally makes an appearance on the list.

Why is it so popular? Well, it's wonderfully adept at nearly everything that's important in a car. Practical, reasonably priced, and yes, very very frugal - especially with the 1.5-litre diesel engine fitted. It's not what you'd call quick mind you, with a 0-62mph time of 12.4 seconds.

At least the diesel engine is connected to a slick shifting six-speed manual gearbox, and it's available in all trim levels apart from ST.*

>> Price new: from £16,640
>> Lease this car:
 from £181 per month
>> Search for a Ford Fiesta on Parkers

Vauxhall Astra - 65.7mpg 

2020 Vauxhall Astra rear

Another outing for the Peugeot/Citroen/DS/Vauxhall 1.5-litre diesel engine, this time in the Astra.

The name has been around for more than 40 years now. If you've ever enjoyed a company car, chances are that it's been an Astra.

Two hallmarks for Vauxhall are value for money and choice. This explains why there are seven trim levels to choose from with the Astra. This 1.5-litre diesel is available in all seven, although the least powerful version (with the 65.7mpg rating) is not available in SRi VX Line, Elite Nav, or Ultimate Nav trim levels.*

>> Price new: from £19,090
>> Lease this car:
 from £234 per month
>> Search for a Vauxhall Astra on Parkers

Further reading:

>> Everything you need to know about electric cars
>> The best hybrid cars to buy today
>> Which are the most reliable cars on sale? 
>> The best new car deals
>> All of the manufacturer-backed no deposit car deals
>> All of the manufacturer-backed 0% APR car deals

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.