The most economical cars to buy in 2020

  • Looking for the most economical cars on sale today? 
  • Read through our list of cars with the best MPG figures
  • From the BMW i8 to the Toyota Prius, we cover all budgets

If this was a straight list of the cars that use the least fuel then below would simply be a roundup of the electric and hybrid cars currently on the market with the highest official fuel economy. Electric cars are obviously the most economical and environmentally friendly cars on the road (although let's not get into a discussion about where the power for the electricity comes from...). But there are still plenty of economical petrol and diesel cars available - it's all relative, after all. 

The government has pledged to ban all purely petrol and diesel cars by 2040, so looking to hybrid cars is definitely important for all new car buyers. There are more plug-in hybrids on the market than ever, and the list is growing every day. 

At Parkers, we recognise that not every motorist’s need is the same, and what works for some will most definitely not work for another. A family of five won’t fit into an electric Renault Zoe for example.

With that in mind, here are the most economical cars in a range of categories. All fuel economy statistics are the new WLTP figures - the new system for testing a car's mpg figures. 

Most economical family hatchbacks

Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoblue 95PS – 64.2mpg 

Ford Focus - one of the most economical cars

Even if you don’t consider hybrid models, there are some impressive official fuel economy figures to be found in the family hatchback class. For those that are covering long miles on a regular basis then diesel will be your best bet, and the Ford Focus will be an excellent companion for those motorway trips. It’ll perform excellently on back roads, too – the Focus is fantastic to drive and handles really well.

New price: £18,305 - £29,655
Lease this car from: £207 per month*
Used price: £12,095 - £22,920
Fuel economy: 46 - 80 mpg
Insurance group: 8 - 23

Read our full Ford Focus review

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC – 62.8mpg 

Honda Civic - one of the best mpg cars

Honda’s eye-catching Civic is more sensible when it comes to economy than its looks would suggest. The diesel model is not likely to make up the majority of sales, but it is the one to go for if economy is all – it promises in excess of 60mpg. The Civic is a practical vehicle, too, with more legroom in the rear than the previous version and plenty of headroom in the front.

New price: £19,305 - £33,550
Lease this car from: £236 per month*
Used price: £9,155 - £29,160
Fuel economy: 36 - 80 mpg
Insurance group: 15 - 40 

Read our full Honda Civic review

Most economical fast and fun cars

BMW i8 – 128.4mpg

BMW i8 - the most economical cars on sale

Plug-in performance cars are a rarity – most part-battery-powered vehicles are designed with urban practicality in mind. The BMW i8 is a bit of a unique proposition therefore, being a hybrid supercar with a realistic electric-only range that you will use to save the petrol for the fun stuff. With a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds, sharp and responsive steering and an engaging drive there will be plenty of that fun stuff, too.

New price: £114,935 - £114,935
Lease this car from: £1,125 per month*
Used price: £36,875 - £67,425
Insurance group: 50

Read our full BMW i8 review

Ford Fiesta ST – 47mpg

Ford Fiesta ST - one of the best mpg cars

The Ford Fiesta is a firm favourite at Parkers, and the reasons for its popularity are many and varied. It might be an absolute hoot to drive, with fantastic steering and superb handling, and it might promise scintillating performance and an entertaining soundtrack to go with it, but it is not going to leave you regretting your choice whenever you come to fill up. It boasts an official fuel economy of 47mpg, which is a level that much more sensible cars would have loved to hit just a few short years ago.

New price: £20,700 - £23,825
Lease this car from: £295 per month*
Used price: £13,515 - £20,215
Fuel economy: 47 mpg
Insurance group: 28

Read our full Ford Fiesta ST review

BMW 335d Touring – 39.2mpg

BMW 3 Series Touring - one of the best mpg cars

No, this is most definitely not the most economical 3 Series Touring, but it is an excellent way to combine enjoyment with economy.  The 335d has an official fuel economy that sits just shy of 40mpg and yet it can get from 0-62mph in less than 5.0-seconds. You probably won’t be able to get that official fuel economy figure if you test out the acceleration on a regular basis, though… It’s a powerful thing, too, with 308bhp and 630Nm of torque, which all means it will make short work of carrying you, the family and all the luggage away for a holiday. You might even still have room for the dog thanks to the 495-litre boot.

New price: £29,345 - £47,850
Used price: £6,925 - £33,230
Fuel economy: 34 - 65 mpg
Insurance group: 18 - 43

Read our full BMW 3 Series Touring review

Most economical SUVs

Citroen C3 Aircross BlueHDI 100 – 63.1mpg

Citroen C3 Aircross - one of the most economical cars

The Citroen C3 Aircross is one of those SUVs that won’t be seen as an SUV by some observers – it is slightly taller and heavier than the old C3 it replaced, but it isn’t so tall and heavy as to ruin its impressive fuel economy. The 1.6-litre diesel engine offers an official economy in excess of 63mpg and is the most efficient in the range, but the petrol versions don’t lag too far behind with up to 47mpg possible depending on which one you go for.

New price: £16,655 - £21,245
Lease this car from: £184 per month*
Used price: £8,545 - £15,230
Fuel economy: 49 - 70 mpg
Insurance group: 6 - 20 

Read our full Citroen C3 Aircross review

Renault Kadjar Blue dCi 115 – 60.1mpg

Renault Kadjar - the best mpg cars

Families wanting to keep fuel bills down would do a lot worse than the Renault Kadjar. If you go for the least powerful diesel engine then an official fuel economy of just over 60mpg is possible. The Kadjar shares many of its composite parts with the Nissan Qashqai, but with a slightly more modern sheen due to it being the more recent car. It is a wonderfully practical car, thanks to its spacious interior and generous specification list, too. The most efficient diesel can be had with all trims up to the GT-Line, too, so it need not be a basic model.

New price: £20,600 - £30,320 
Lease this car from new: From £165 per month*
Used price: £8,390 - £23,995
Fuel economy: 45 - 74 mpg
Insurance group: 14 - 23

Read our full Renault Kadjar review

Volvo XC40 D3 FWD – 51.4mpg

Volvo XC40 - one of the best mpg cars

The Volvo XC40 is an all-round excellent proposition, and proof you don’t need to go for a stripped-back SUV to get a decent official fuel economy. It might be the smallest SUV that Volvo makes but it has a spacious cabin with plenty of clever storage options. There will be a hybrid, and an electric, version in the future, but for now the most basic D3 diesel engine is a good way to cover a lot of miles in comfort without using loads of fuel.

New price: £28,965 - £38,485
Lease this car from new: From £272 per month*
Used price: £21,675 - £39,740
Fuel economy: 39 - 58 mpg
Insurance group: 22 - 33

Read our full Volvo XC40 review

Most economical petrol cars

Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo 1.0 – 58.9mpg

Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1

The Citroen/Peugeot/Toyota trio might have been on sale for a few years now, but they still make a compelling case when it comes to out and out economy. Depending on which wheels and options you go for, they should be capable of just under 59mpg, which is a real achievement for a small petrol engine. Don’t buy one and expect it to be up to thousands of miles a year up and down the motorway, though – these three are better suited to towns and cities. Adults won’t thank you for insisting they travel in the back for hours either. As economical urban runabouts, though, they are hard to beat when it comes to the numbers.

Read our full Citroen C1 review
Read our full Peugeot 108 review
Read our full Toyota Aygo review

Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo/Volkswagen Up 1.0 MPI 60PS – 55.4mpg

Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo/VW Up

The Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen Up are economical partly because of their efficient 1.0-litre engine and partly because there isn’t much of them to haul around. The tiny city car trio boasts around 55mpg, so long as you go for the lower powered of the two engine options. This version is not going to be your best bet if you spend hours on the motorway, as it takes a bit of time to get up to speed, but it is perfect for town and suburban driving.

Read our full SEAT Mii review
Read our full Skoda Citigo review
Read our full Volkswagen Up review

Most economical hybrid cars

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6GDi 141PS BlueDrive Plug-in – 247.8mpg

Hyundai Ioniq - one of the best mpg cars

Despite the new WLTP fuel tests aiming to bring more a more real-world feel to official economy figures, the plug-in hybrid mpg stats still have to be taken with a bit of a caveat. You’ll only get the astronomical figures if you actually plug said car in from time to time. There is an electric only Ioniq, and a non-plug-in hybrid, but this version offers the best of both worlds – the ability to travel on battery alone but with a 1.6-litre petrol engine to back it up if you find yourself unable to charge from time to time.

New price: £21,795 - £30,195
Lease this car from new: From £423 per month*
Used price: £11,950 - £22,510
Fuel economy: 78 - 78 mpg
Insurance group: 10 - 12

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review

Toyota Prius Plug-in – 235.4mpg

Toyota Prius - one of the most economical cars

The Toyota Prius is the definitive hybrid in many people’s eyes, but it is the plug-in version that you’ll want if you want to maximise your fuel economy. It looks exactly the same as the standard hybrid, but the ability to plug it in boosts its official economy to 235.4mpg and means it gets an electric only range of 30 miles. These days, the Prius is not the boring sensible hatch that it once was either – it is surprisingly enjoyable to drive and it is roomy and well-made inside.

New price: £24,245 - £28,970
Lease this car from new: From £206 per month*
Used price: £15,215 - £26,805
Fuel economy: 78 - 83 mpg
Insurance group: 13 - 22

Read our full Toyota Prius review

Kia Niro PHEV – 201.8mpg

Kia Niro - the best mpg cars

The Kia Niro is essentially a Hyundai Ioniq, but with a very different skin. Where the Ioniq is a sensible hatchback, the Niro is more a high riding (but still sensible) SUV. Like the Ioniq, the plug-in hybrid is the version to go for if you want to maximise fuel economy and have access to a charging point to plug in at home or work. The downside of all the tech in the PHEV Niro is that it loses some of its practicality – it only boasts 324 litres of boot space – but it will fit four adults comfortably.

New price: £24,590 - £31,945
Lease this car from new: From £233 per month*
Used price: £12,665 - £23,630
Fuel economy: 64 - 76 mpg
Insurance group: 12 - 14

Read our full Kia Niro review

What to read next: 

Everything you need to know about electric cars
The best hybrid cars to buy today
Which are the most reliable cars on sale? 

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