Real-world MPG: cheap cars that are cheap to run

Dacia Sandero

What Car? True MPG technicians test new cars every week to bring you real-world fuel economy figures rather than the Government data that comes from a laboratory test.

Here are the most economical city cars and small hatchbacks with a Target Price of less than £10,000, according to our True MPG tests.

The list is mostly populated by small petrol engines, although there is one 1.5-litre diesel. All the cars achieve at least 40mpg, with the first four bettering 50mpg.

Most economical cars for less than £10k:

1. Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi – official 74.3mpg: True MPG 61.7mpg

The Sandero range starts at an astonishingly low £5995, although this diesel will set you back another £2600. Of course, such a low price demands compromises, but if you can stomach the basic level of refinement and comfort, this economical small family car is incredible value for money.

2. Peugeot 108 1.0 3dr – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 54.6mpg

The 108 is quite basic in Access trim, but move up to Active trim, which costs £9495, and you get air conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The 108 is cheap to run and easy to drive in town because of its tiny proportions, but it’s also small on the inside, with little space for rear-seat passengers, and has a small boot.

3. Toyota Aygo 1.0 5dr – official 68.9mpg: True MPG 54.0mpg

The Aygo shares much with the 108, including its basic body architecture and 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. The most entry-level Aygo is cheaper that the basic 108 but doesn’t come with much kit. We’d recommend the X-Play model, which is £9795, and gets things such as air conditioning and Bluetooth. However, it lacks the touchscreen of the equivalent 108 Active and comes with the same space limitations.

4. Suzuki Celerio 1.0  – official 65.7mpg: True MPG 53.5mpg

The first of two models from Suzuki to make this list is the Celerio. The five-door city car is slightly bigger than the Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii and also has room for five. Two trim levels are available and both come with air conditioning as standard.

5. Suzuki Swift 1.2 5dr – official 56.5mpg: True MPG 51.7mpg

The Suzuki Swift is a smart-looking supermini that handles well. It’s also attractively priced and has lots of equipment for the money. It’s not as refined as other cars in the class, but it should prove cheap to run and was able to get very close to its official economy figures in our real-world testing.

6. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 Greentech 5dr – official 68.1mpg: True MPG 49.1mpg

The Citigo is one of the best city cars around: it’s great to drive, well-built and cheap to buy and run. Granted, it’s not as classy as the Volkswagen Up, but a five-door Greentech SE model has lots of kit, emits 95g/km of CO2 and costs less than £10,000. That’s a bargain in our book.

7. Hyundai i10 1.0 – official 60.1mpg: True MPG 45.6mpg

The new i10 only just beats 45mpg in our real-world test, but it performs so well in other areas that we named it our 2015 City Car of the Year. Its ride, handling and compact size make it a fine urban runabout, while it’s also remarkably refined compared to its rivals. There’s room for four six-footers inside, plus you get a decent-sized boot, six airbags and Hyundai’s five-year warranty. The i10 is simply outstanding value for money.

8. Kia Picanto 1.25  – official 60.1mpg: True MPG 41.8mpg

The Kia Picanto’s 1.25-litre petrol engine offers decent performance and, even though it’s not as efficient as the 1.0-litre that’s also offered, it still should prove cheap tp run. 

9. Vauxhall Corsa 1.2i 70 3dr – official 52.3mpg: True MPG 40.6mpg

The Corsa is spacious and well-priced and most versions are generously equipped. This entry-level model doesn’t get air conditioning but will at least be cheap to run.

10. MG3 1.5 – official 48.7mpg: True MPG 40.2mpg

The MG3 is cheap and well-specced and has enough room for four adults to get comfortable. Running costs are low, but because it depreciates steeply it will end up costing more overall than its rivals in the long-term.

We add new models to our True MPG database every week. Visit to see the full range of cars we’ve tested and find out what you really can expect to achieve on UK roads.

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