Research uncovers the Top 10 cheapest & most fuel efficient new cars

Motoring costs are never far from the front page – as Tuesday’s Commons debate on 2012’s fuel duty increases highlighted. Most buyers want to save at the pumps and on road tax, but with every manufacturer claiming to offer better fuel consumption than the rest, where do motorists start?

In the latest of its regular Data Bank features, has the answer, rounding-up the ten most fuel efficient new cars on the market and helping buyers to get the best value for money in a tough climate.

All of the cars in the list are fitted with diesel engines and offer free VED and congestion charge exemption. That’s a given, thanks to CO2 emissions below 100g/km.

Top of the pile is the Kia Rio Ecodynamics – a relative newcomer to the market as it’s only been on sale since September 2011. Its 1.1-litre diesel engine delivers a claimed 88.3mpg, along with a decent power output 74bhp and 169Nm of torque. Not only that, it offers five-door, five seat practicality, all for £11,895. Add to that a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, and it’s clear why it’s proving a hit with cash-savvy buyers.

Second is the £10,400 Smart Fortwo CDI diesel, with a claimed fuel economy figure of 85.6mpg. It’s only a two-seater, but thanks to its tiny dimensions it’s the ideal car for town – so finding a parking space won’t be a problem. It’s not the most powerful car – the 800cc engine produces just 54bhp. But in an urban environment outright performance doesn’t really matter.

Just behind the Smart is the C3 1.6 e-HDi Airdream, which has arrived in Citroen showrooms in just the past few weeks. It’s more expensive than the Fortwo and the Rio at £15,290, but there are a few nice extras – like a panoramic windscreen – to add to its appeal. The 83.1mpg fuel economy figure is owed in part to a start stop system, which saves fuel when the car is stationary by cutting the engine.

The Skoda Fabia comes in fourth. The range may include a high-performance hot hatch, but Skoda has covered all bases. The 1.2-litre TDI engine fitted to the efficient Greenline II model is shared with two other cars from the top ten, including the fifth place SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive, but it delivers the best economy when fitted to the Fabia, matching the C3 with 83.1mpg. The sporty looking Ibiza is just behind, with a claimed 80.7mpg.

The Honest John list also includes the Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX (80.7mpg), the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion (80.7mpg), the Alfa Romeo MiTo JTDm-2 (78.5mpg), the Citroen DS3 e-HDi Airdream (78.5mpg) and the Ford Fiesta 1.6 Econetic (78.5mpg).

It’s worth noting that these fuel economy figures are all the official figures – the only ones that manufacturers can legally quote. In reality, drivers are reporting different economy figures in the Honest John Real Life Fuel Economy Register, which averages reader fuel economy submissions to deliver a clear picture of what buyers can expect from their car.

Nonetheless, these ten models do offer impressive economy on paper. Fuel duty rises and the massive variation in pump prices from place to place may be in debate, but whether or not the price of fuel is cut next year, fuel efficient cars are the wisest choice for budget conscious buyers.

Daniel Harrison, editor of HonestJohn said “Fuel consumption has become a key selling point in recent years and every manufacturer makes a claim of some sort. It can leave buyers baffled, so this list clearly sets out the nation’s cleanest cars and how much they’ll cost motorists.”

The Honest John Top 10 Cheapest & Most Fuel Efficient New Cars

Car Combined cycle economy
Kia Rio Ecodynamics 88.3mpg
Smart ForTwo CDI 85.6mpg
Citroen C3 e-HDI Airdream 83.1mpg
Skoda Fabia Greenline II 83.1mpg
SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive 80.7mpg
Vauxhall Corsa Ecoflex 80.7mpg
Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 80.7mpg
Alfa Romeo MiTo JTDm-2 78.5mpg
Citroen DS3 e-HDI Airdream 78.5mpg
Ford Fiesta Econetic 78.5mpg

Data Bank features are a regular feature on with further Top Ten lists coveringvarious criteria, from insurance groups and interior space to road tax bands, performance and dimensions.