10 of the Best Petrol Cars with Great mpg
If you're looking for a car with great fuel efficiency, low running costs and no faff, a super-economical petrol car could be the one for you. They're well-suited to eco-friendly, affordable driving without you needing to buy the latest hybrid model or search for parking spaces near a charger. Read on to learn more about ten of our favourite petrol cars that offer impressive mpg.
1. Toyota Aygo
One of the first cheap city cars on the road – the Toyota Aygo – is also one of the most economical petrol cars out there. Its 1.0-litre petrol engine is super-efficient and well-suited to town driving, even if it does struggle a touch with overtaking on the motorway. It’s great fun to drive, it seats four, and its small size makes it easy to manoeuvre, meaning you’ll never struggle to park it. Inside, it feels cheap and cheerful yet comfortable, with soft-touch seat fabrics. Newer models have a few more features such as air conditioning and smartphone integration, too. Most importantly, you’ll get up to just under 70 mpg, depending on the year and trim.
2. Skoda Citigo
This smart little city car is cute and capable – it’s efficient in town and copes surprisingly well on the motorway. Despite its small size, both three-door and five-door versions of the Skoda Citigo are spacious enough for adults to be comfortable in the backseat. That’s a big plus for an efficient runaround. Inside, it feels nice and practical (if a little dated) and includes useful features such as ISOFIX points for kid seats. Choose one with SE trim and you’ll gain smart leather accents and six-speaker surround sound. The Citigo is available as a manual or an automatic, and both versions are cheap to run thanks to low mpgs and great reliability. Plus, they’re cheaper to buy than the equivalent (and almost identical) Seat and VW models. With a mix of city and open-road driving you’ll get up to 55 mpg.
3. Peugeot 208
The Peugeot 208 is a stylish supermini that’s available with a small, economical petrol engine. Inside, the 208 is comfortable and classy, with soft-touch materials and contrasting coloured accents. The backseat is perfect for kids, but keep in mind that taller adults will want a touch more headroom on longer journeys. There are some great features available, including a sunroof, rear parking sensors and satellite navigation – shop around to find the trim that suits you, as there have been quite a few. The 208 is fairly fun to drive and copes well both in town and on more open roads. Depending on the trim, you can expect to hit around 60-66 mpg. Check carefully when shopping around though, as it’s also been available with a bigger petrol or diesel engine, which will post numbers closer to 50 mpg.
4. Ford Fiesta
This friendly family hatchback is pleasingly speedy and copes well with highways, traffic jams and backroads. It’s available with three or five doors, and seats five without too much trouble. Newer models of the Ford Fiesta are generally cheaper to run but more expensive to buy – shop around to find the balance that fits your budget. There’s plenty of room for the driver and front passenger and a decent amount of boot space, while the backseat is a little more kid-sized. The Fiesta is fairly reliable and has a good safety record, and you’ll find active safety features such as lane departure warnings on newer models. So, all the boxes ticked for a solid family car, but what about efficiency? No worries there: the petrols will post up to 56 mpg.
5. Citroen C1
One of the Aygo’s nearly-identical siblings, the Citroen C1 is a reliable yet budget-friendly compact city car. It’s cheap to run and rated as doing a very impressive 69 mpg (combined). Both manual and automatic options are pleasingly speedy and good in traffic, making it fun to drive in town. While it’s a little bit lacking in fancy features and is tight on headroom for backseat passengers, there is a soft-top convertible C1 Airscape model on the road for that extra bit of style. There’s enough boot space for a trip to the supermarket, and you’ll certainly notice how economical it is if you stop at the petrol pump after – it won’t be too often.
6. Toyota Yaris
The Toyota Yaris is an economical, city-focused supermini that feels solid and dependable. As with most models from the Japanese brand, it’s got a fantastic reliability record and the smaller petrol engines offer competitive fuel efficiency. Inside, there’s enough room for two adults to travel comfortably in the back. The interior styling is smart and easy to use, and the dashboard layout is pleasingly simple. Though, as with many cars of this size, it can struggle on steep hills and motorway overtakes, especially when the medium-sized boot is full. But, stick to the city streets and shorter trips and the small, economical petrol engines will give you no trouble. The handling’s easy too, and the Yaris feels stable and well-controlled from the driving seat. Add to that a quoted mpg of above 60 and this makes for an impressive package.
7. SEAT Mii
With its cute design and practical interior, it’s easy to see the similarities between the Skoda Citigo and its cheap-to-run sibling, the SEAT Mii. Inside, the Mii feels well built and has a surprisingly large amount of space given its small stature. For passengers anyway – the boot space is admittedly tight, and the Mii lacks features such as parking sensors. Luckily, the turning circle is so small that you’ll hardly miss them, and there’s plenty of in-cabin storage for bits and bobs. In the latest models the infotainment system links to your smartphone via an app, which is a neat way to avoid a pricy touchscreen setup. Trips to the petrol station won’t rack up the costs either, as the oldest Miis are rated at 62.8 mpg and the newer ones only get more economical.
8. Fiat 500
A charming appearance and lots of customisation options make the Fiat 500 a distinctive choice for an economical petrol car. It’s just as stylish inside, too, with a gorgeous retro trim and dashboard layout. The 500 is much more affordable than other high-fashion superminis, and filling up the tank won’t break the bank, as all models are rated as doing around 50 mpg (combined). A slight drawback compared to others on this list is the interior space: backseat passengers will find it a bit cosy and it’s only available as a three-door option. But as a trade-off you get a classic, compact design with bags of style. New buyers have lots of customisation options, so it’s likely that every 500 on the road is a little different – shop around to find the colours and features you like best.
9. Peugeot 108
The third triplet from the Aygo-C1 family is the Peugeot 108. It’s possibly the most refined of the three, with a slightly quieter engine that offers great fuel economy and a slicker manual gearbox. There are four trim options available, and all feel solid if unexciting inside and out. The 108 seats four, though any backseat passengers best be good friends as they’ll be close together. Unlike some tiny in-town cars, both three-door and five-door models are fairly easy to get in and out of. This city car may be little, but its size makes it great in traffic and on tight streets, as well as easy to park and super fuel-efficient – you’ll manage 50-55 mpg.
10. Volkswagen Up!
The slightly more upmarket sibling of the Citigo and the Mii, the Volkswagen Up is a smart, practical city car with an economical petrol engine. It’s rated as doing around 53 mpg, and it feels smooth and powerful enough for any everyday motoring. The Up is the most expensive of the triplets when bought new, which mostly pays off in the slightly fancier interior – you’ll find optional patterned seat fabric and a touchscreen infotainment system on all but the basic level trim. One key difference between the Up and many compact petrol cars is the space: there’s plenty of headroom and legroom in the backseat, and enough boot space for a weekly shop or a reasonable amount of luggage.
If you’re after a petrol car that’s cheap to run and has a great mpg rating, there’s plenty of options. For more details on the cars in this article and to find similar models, check out our detailed reviews or head straight to our listings.