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Best high fuel economy cars 2012
If you’re looking for a car with the highest miles per gallon here are some options to consider. These are the best cars in terms of fuel economy on sale in the UK in 2012 and we at Green Car Guide have driven and tested them all, comparing the official fuel consumption figures with the real-world MPG.
This top ten list includes a variety of vehicle categories ranging from city cars to executive cars, all developed with different technologies:
• electric cars
• electric range-extender
• hybrid cars
• plug-in hybrid vehicles
• petrol cars
• diesel technology
One word of warning – the current official NEDC fuel economy test results in very high miles per gallon figures for cars that can drive short distances in battery-electric mode, such as hybrids and especially plug-in hybrids. It is not realistic to expect such high fuel economy figures consistently in real-life driving unless your driving cycle involves lots of short journeys mainly on battery power with very gentle acceleration. If you do lots of motorway driving then a two-litre turbodiesel is likely to give you the best miles per gallon in real-life use - which is why we have recommended a variety of fuel efficient cars and powertrains below.
1. Vauxhall Ampera 235.4mpg
The Vauxhall Ampera - or Chevrolet Volt - is an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, or E-REV. This means that it is an electric car at all times, but it also has an onboard petrol generator that cuts in if the battery charge runs out, so there’s no range anxiety that is normally associated with an electric car. The Ampera isn’t a hybrid, in fact it’s almost the opposite to a hybrid – whereas a hybrid operates mainly on petrol or diesel with back-up from electric power, the Ampera is an electric car at all times, with back-up from a petrol engine. Read more about the Vauxhall Ampera.
2. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid 134.5mpg
The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid boasts impressive fuel economy of 134.5mpg, along with emissions of just 49g/km CO2; these figures are achieved by the ability to plug the petrol-electric hybrid car into the mains to charge the battery. If you don’t want a plug-in version, there’s always the standard Toyota Prius hybrid which can manage up to 72.4mpg. Read more about the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
3. Toyota Yaris Hybrid 80.7mpg
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is the first full hybrid in the supermini sector, promising an excellent 80.7mpg and super-low emissions of just 79g/km CO2. With silent electric power available at low speeds, this is the most refined model in the Yaris range. Read more about the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.
4. Volvo V40 1.6 D2 78.5mpg
The all-new Volvo V40 is - at last - the company’s contender in the vital C-segment hatchback class, and in the case of the D2 it combines low emissions of just 94g/km CO2 and 78.5mpg with an upmarket and individual feel. Read more about the Volvo V40 1.6 D2.
5. Fiat Panda 1.3 MultiJet2 72.4mpg
The new Fiat Panda is probably the best city car because it doesn’t feel like a city car; it’s available with a TwinAir petrol engine which is fun to drive and it achieves high miles per gallon in the official NEDC test, but in real-life driving the MultiJet2 diesel is likely to be much more economical, with low running costs. Read more about the Fiat Panda 1.3 MultiJet2.
6. BMW 320d EfficientDynamics 68.9 mpg
The BMW 320d EfficientDynamics delivers great performance and rear-wheel drive handling together with fuel economy of 68.9mpg, emissions of just 109g/km CO2 – and a 15% company car tax BIK rate. Of all the cars that we’ve driven in the last year, the 320d EfficientDynamics delivered the closest to its official fuel economy in long distance real-life driving. Read more about the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics
7. BMW 520d EfficientDynamics 62.8 mpg
The BMW 520d EfficientDynamics Saloon has a combined economy figure of 62.8 mpg and emissions of just 119 g/km CO2. Despite such supermini-levels of emissions it is still an incredibly comfortable, capable and refined motorway cruiser. Even just five years ago, who would have thought that an executive BMW 5 Series would be able to return over 60mpg… Read more about the BMW 520d EfficientDynamics
8. Ford Focus 1-litre EcoBoost 56.5 mpg
The Ford Focus 1-litre EcoBoost is a 5-door hatchback powered by a 1-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, which sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it actually has excellent performance and it’s almost as quiet as an electric car. The Focus 1-litre EcoBoost is ideal as a family hatchback that’s used mainly in urban areas, but unlike electric cars it has the ability to drive anywhere beyond city limits. Read more about the Ford Focus 1-litre EcoBoost
9. Nissan LEAF Electric
The Nissan LEAF is an all-electric family hatchback. It’s quiet, refined, comfortable and 100% torque from standstill gives excellent acceleration. It’s ideal for use in urban areas and returns the equivalent of 348 miles per gallon. The only reason it comes in at number 9 in our list is because it has a finite range of around 100 miles, and unless you can find a fast charger, you’ll need about 8 hours to fully recharge it. Read more about the Nissan LEAF
10. Renault Twizy Electric
The Renault Twizy is essentially an electric four-wheeled scooter. It’s great fun to drive, and will have low running costs, however its lack of all-weather protection may limit its sales in the UK. Read more about the Renault Twizy
For a complete guide to the highest miles per gallon cars on sale today in the UK in 10 different classes, see our Green Car Guide
Remember that car insurance can be a significant cost factor in running any car, so shop around to get the best deal, and be aware that some car insurance schemes offer an ethical element, for example a proportion of the premium may be donated to a charity of your choice.
- Paul Clarke