Top nine most fuel-efficient cars of 2013

  • We highlight the most fuel-efficient cars you can buy
  • All are rated at an average of over 85mpg
  • Could one of these economy champs be your next car?

As more of us think about downsizing our cars or switch to a newer model that’s cheaper to run, the number of economy-minded choices can seem overwhelming.

These days it’s not just a case of a choice between petrol and diesel either as cars are available with varying degrees of electric power too. Perhaps going fully electric isn't an option for you because you need to be able to travel longer distances than even the better battery-powered cars can manage.

In terms of liquid-fuelled engines, diesel remains the more fuel efficient choice with the best petrol engines only just breaking the 70mpg mark. Combine a conventional engine with electric motors and hybrids rule the roost.

So, which to choose? Once again, Parkers have done the hard work for you by identifying the nine most fuel efficient cars you can currently buy, based upon manufacturers’ claimed economy figures.

Could one of these fuel misers be your next car?

1. Vauxhall Ampera Earth / Chevrolet Volt

Reigning fuel efficiency champions are the Vauxhall Ampera and its Chevrolet Volt sister. Very easy to drive with a surprisingly sporty feel, the Ampera claims to achieve up to 235mpg, with 50 miles possible on a full charge. Its small 1.4-litre petrol engine doesn't drive the wheels but an electricity generator, which the makers claim is more efficient. Spacious and space-age up front with two LCD displays and heat sensitive buttons, but be aware it's only a four-seater and the boot is small too at 310 litres.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £29,995 (including UK government plug-in car grant)

Fuel consumption – 235.4mpg

CO2 emissions – 27g/km

Power – 149bhp (electric motor)

Theoretical range - 300 miles (50 miles in electric-only mode)

2. Volvo V60 D6 AWD Plug-in Hybrid

 

Volvo's newly-facelifted V60 Plug-in hybrid combines diesel power with a powerful electric motor giving it the capability of being an eco-warrior estate capable of 31 miles of driving on electricity alone or a rapid sportswagon offering performance car-like acceleration. Combine this with a practical, large boot, space inside for five adults and one of the strongest safety records of any car on sale and it seems an attractive proposition. The sticking point is the high purchase price at almost £44,000 including the £5,000 government plug-in vehicle grant, which even the high level of standard equipment struggles to justify.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £43,775 (including UK government plug-in car grant)

Fuel consumption – 155.2mpg

CO2 emissions – 48g/km

Power – 275bhp (diesel engine and electric motor)

Theoretical range - 560 miles (31 miles in electric-only mode)

3. Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Plug-in Hybrid

 

By extending the battery range of the existing Prius to 15.5 miles with a plug-in charging facility, Toyota's fuel efficiency flag waver sips even less petrol than before, giving the car a theoretical range of 769 miles between fill-ups. Additional silver trim on the exterior mark this out as superior to other Priuses but other than that it's business as usual in terms of looks, space and the driving experience. Superb reliability and sheer ease of use make the Toyota an easy choice for fuel-efficiency seeking car buyers, especially given that it's the cheapest plug-in hybrid on the market too.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £28,245 (including UK government plug-in car grant)

Fuel consumption – 134.5mpg

CO2 emissions – 49g/km

Power – 134bhp (petrol engine and electric motor)

Theoretical range - 769 miles (15.5 miles in electric-only mode)

4. Porsche Panamera 3.0 V6 S E-Hybrid

 

You'd be forgiven for thinking there was a mistake seeing a Porsche in a most fuel efficient car chart, especially one costing almost £90,000, but the latest E-Hybrid Panamera is a luxurious sports saloon capable of over 90mpg. Not only that, in electric-only mode it can travel up to 22 miles before the petrol engine fires into life. Despite its massively powerful 416bhp engine, the Panamera can cover long distances before needing its tank replenishing although the theoretical range is very optimistic. Like the Volvo, the engine can also be set to charge the batteries while you drive.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £88,967 (including UK government plug-in car grant)

Fuel consumption – 91.1mpg

CO2 emissions – 71g/km

Power – 416bhp (petrol engine and electric motor)

Theoretical range - 1,603 miles* (22 miles in electric-only mode)

5. Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue 5d

Hyundai’s i20 is the oft-overlooked model in the brand’s range, being more expensive than the bargain basement i10 but not as spacious as the larger i30. But thrift-conscious motorists are missing out as the i20 Blue is the cheapest diesel available with an average fuel consumption of 88.3mpg. As with all cars in this economy bracket, annual road tax is free due to low CO2 emissions. Build quality and reliability are important i20 selling points, reinforced by Hyundai’s five year warranty, but don’t expect a long list of standard equipment at this price level.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £11,795

Fuel consumption – 88.3mpg

CO2 emissions – 84g/km

Power – 74bhp

Theoretical range - 874 miles*

6. Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi 1 EcoDynamics 5d

Sister car to the Hyundai i20 and fitted with the same chassis and three-cylinder turbo diesel engine, but a different design of five door body, the Rio has proven to be a popular choice for British motorists. Fuel consumption is identical to the i20 Blue and the interior is similarly spartan in entry-level ‘1’ specification. Pore over the equipment list and at first glance the £100 price premium over the Hyundai makes little sense. Factor in that the Rio’s warranty lasts for seven years, unlike the i20’s five, and suddenly the Kia looks a better value long-term purchase.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £11,895

Fuel consumption – 88.3mpg

CO2 emissions – 85g/km

Power – 74bhp

Theoretical range - 835 miles*

7. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90bhp ECO Expression+ 5d

The all-new, fourth generation Clio is not only larger than its predecessor but also more fuel-efficient too. Despite matching the Hyundai and Kia’s 88.3mpg fuel consumption figure, the Renault is fitted with a 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine producing 90bhp. The key benefit is that it’s quieter at cruising speeds, sipping less diesel in the process as the larger engine is under less strain. Distinctive styling and modern interior fittings will attract buyers new to Renault, a higher price and a four year warranty count against it.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £14,345

Fuel consumption – 88.3mpg

CO2 emissions – 83g/km

Power – 90bhp

Theoretical range - 874 miles*

8. Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion 3d

Volkswagen’s latest Golf BlueMotion may be the newest car in this frugal selection but it’s also one of the most expensive. If five doors are a must then be prepared to shell out a further £655 for the privilege. However, your additional outlay buys you a genuinely roomy five-seater, with impeccable levels of build quality and a standard feature list that includes air conditioning, colour touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. BlueMotion Golfs also look different from their lesser counterparts with aerodynamic body features. Only a four year warranty but expect strong resale values.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £20,335

Fuel consumption – 88.3mpg

CO2 emissions – 85g/km

Power – 108bhp

Theoretical range - 871 miles*

9. Smart Fortwo Coupe CDI Pulse Softouch

From the largest to the smallest car in this article, enter the diminutive Smart ForTwo, with a tiny 0.8-litre turbo diesel sat beneath its boot floor. With only a pair of seats, the Smart isn’t going to be a practical choice for everyone nor is it particularly inexpensive at £10,775. Factor in a two-year manufacturer warranty and the semi-automatic gearbox which takes some getting used to and its case is harder to argue. However, thousands of owners swear by them and you can boast that your car has been engineered by Mercedes-Benz.

Vital Statistics

Price new – £10,775

Fuel consumption – 85.6mpg

CO2 emissions – 86g/km

Power – 54bhp

Theoretical range - 621 miles*

Theoretical ranges followed by an asterisk (*) are calculated by multiplying the claimed average fuel consumption by the size of the fuel tank. Where the asterisk is not present, the quoted figures are the manufacturers' estimates at 'real world' figures.