Diesel has come in for a lot of stick over recent years, but the fact remains: a modern diesel engine makes perfect sense if you cover a lot of miles.
The threat of anti-diesel legislation might deter you from taking the plunge, but as our list of the most economical new cars reveals, you could achieve some seriously impressive hypermiling with one of these motors.
We’ll present the results in reverse order.
*Note these fuel economy figures are obtained using the current NEDC testing regime and are likely to change when the new WLTP test gets fully underway in September 2018.
Suzuki Celerio 1.0 Dualjet: 78.4mpg
If you really can’t do the diesel thing, and you’re not intending to travel long distances, the Suzuki Celerio is a cheap and cheerful option. Right now, the Celerio SZ3 1.0-litre Dualjet petrol is available for £9,149, with a spec that includes air conditioning, 14-inch alloy wheels and DAB radio. Go easy on the right foot and you could see as much as 78.4mpg on the combined cycle.
Nissan Pulsar 1.5 dCi: 78.5mpg
You’ll have to be quick, because Nissan is pulling the plug on the Pulsar, but the 1.5-litre diesel engine could return as much as 78.5mpg. Nissan dealers will be keen to shift old stock, so haggle hard and grab yourself a deal.
Kia Cee’d 1.6 CRDi: 78.5mpg
Kia has ditched the apostrophe for the new Ceed, but if you’re a fan of punctuation on the back of your car, the outgoing Cee’d is still available. It’s no longer a bargain basement hatchback – the cheapest 1.6-litre diesel costs £17,330 – but with a seven-year warranty and CO2 emissions from just 94g/km, it’s certainly a rational choice.
Citroen C3 1.6 BlueHDi: 80.7mpg
While the C4 Cactus has largely turned its back on the Airbump, you can still wear your supermarket car park armour with pride on certain C3 models. Opt for the 1.6 BlueHDi engine if you like the sound of 80.7mpg combined.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi: 80.7mpg
If you hate filling up with fuel, you’ll love the 1.3-litre CDTi engine in the Vauxhall Corsa. With a little hypermiling, you could squeeze up to 798 miles out of a tank of diesel, which could mean you need only visit a filling station once a month. Think of the money you’d save on those chocolate bars you buy on impulse when queuing to pay for your fuel.
Renault Scenic/Grand Scenic 1.5 dCi Hybrid Assist: 80.7mpg
If you thought impressive fuel economy was the preserve of superminis and hatchbacks, the Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic are here to surprise you. Opt for the 1.5-litre diesel with Hybrid Assist and you could see as much as 80.7mpg. Not bad for a five- or seven-seat MPV riding on 20-inch rims.
Peugeot 308 1.5 BlueHDi: 80.7mpg
Earlier this year, Peugeot unveiled a new Euro 6.2 1.5-litre diesel engine to replace the old Euro 6 1.6-litre unit in the 308 hatchback. The promise: to deliver up to 80.7mpg when mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and riding on 15- or 16-inch alloy wheels. Of course, the reality will be slightly different, but that’s true of all the cars mentioned here.
Mercedes-Benz A 180d: 80.7mpg
There’s a new and much improved A-Class on the way, but if you can’t wait, the current A 180d is the best option if you’re hoping to maximise fuel economy. When mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the entry-level SE could return as much as 80.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 89g/km.
Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi: 80.7mpg
The Kia Rio 2 costs £14,240 and offers a generous level of standard equipment, including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, cruise control, reversing camera, parking sensors and 15-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the 1.4-litre diesel engine for up to 80.7mpg. And we didn’t even mention the warranty…
Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC: 80.7mpg
A Honda Civic SE with the 120hp 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine will set you back £20,245. It’s the most striking car in its class, but the fuel economy is a more rational affair at 80.7mpg. Honda reckons three in 10 Civic buyers will opt for the diesel in the UK, even if overall diesel sales are down.
New Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBlue: 80.7mpg
An all-new Ford Focus will go on sale in August, with first deliveries expected in September. Ford is promising more space, technology, luxury and comfort than ever before, as it takes aim at the Volkswagen Golf. The 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel will be the engine of choice for the nation’s hypermilers.
DS3 Cabrio 1.6 BlueHDi: 80.7mpg
Last month, DS announced that it was pulling the plug on the slow-selling 4 and 5 hatchbacks, but the 3 has escaped the cull. Opt for the Cabrio with a 1.6-litre BlueHDi engine and enjoy the thrill of open-air driving and 80.7mpg.
Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi: 80.7mpg
Bad news if you want to combine maximum fuel economy with a minimum price. The super-frugal 1.5-litre dCi engine is available only on the Sandero Laureate, meaning you’ll have to fork out at least £11,195 for the bargain-basement hatchback. That’s a far cry from the headline-grabbing £6,995 Access.
Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 dCi: 80.7mpg
It’s a similar story with the Dacia Logan MCV, which is available from just £8,495. However, the diesel is available on the Ambiance and Laureate models, so you’ll need to fork out at least £11,695 for the cheap load-lugger.
Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi: 83.1mpg
The Citroen C4 Cactus has grown up, adopting a softer stance and a focus on comfort and joy. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most comfortable cars in its class, but will this be enough to cut it in a sector dominated by the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus? Maybe the fuel economy will tip the balance in Mr Soft’s favour.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid: 83.1mpg
The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to deliver 83.1mpg on a combined cycle. Prices start from £21,240 for the SE model and you’ll get a five-year unlimited mileage warranty as standard.
Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi: 83.1mpg
Ford dealers will be rather keen to shift stock of the outgoing Focus, so haggle hard to secure a low price. The majority of cars will be available from stock, so don’t expect much in the way of personalisation options.
Fiat Tipo 1.6 MultiJet II: 83.1mpg
Opt for the DCT transmission in the Fiat Tipo diesel and you could look forward to 83.1mpg on a combined cycle. The 1.6 MultiJet isn’t available on the entry-level Easy, so you’ll need to find at least £18,820 by upgrading to the Easy Plus.
DS 3 1.6 BlueHDi: 83.1mpg
It’s the DS3 again, only this time with a fixed roof. In return for sacrificing open-air motoring, help yourself to an extra 2.4mpg.
Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 JTDm-2: 83.1mpg
Yes, Alfa Romeo still sells the Mito, and yes, it is rather frugal. A standard Mito with the 95hp 1.3 JTDM-2 engine will set you back £16,105, but unless you’re doing mega-miles, we’d suggest opting for the cheaper 1.4-litre (50.4mpg) and 0.9-litre TwinAir (67.3mpg) petrol engines.
Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi: 85.6mpg
Vauxhall has launched a new ad campaign aimed at positioning itself as ‘confidently British’, as it seeks to reverse a period of dwindling sales. As you may have noticed if you watched England beat Nigeria on Saturday, the Astra is the first model to benefit from the ‘True Brit’ rebrand. The 1.6-litre CDTi engine could offer as much as 85.6mpg on a combined cycle.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid: 85.6mpg
In the past, Toyota claimed that the Yaris Hybrid could offer an excellent 85.6mpg on a combined cycle. However, it’s worth noting that, using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), the figure drops to 76.3mpg. Still impressive and more reflective of real-world driving conditions.
Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi: 88.3mpg
We’re into the top three, where we find the Nissan Micra. When powered by a 1.5-litre dCi engine, the sharp-looking Micra could offer up to 88.3mpg on a combined cycle, with diesel prices starting from £15,000.
Toyota Prius Hybrid: 94.1mpg
In common with the Yaris, all Toyota Prius grades are now type-approved using WLTP, meaning the estimated fuel economy is more realistic than before. The WLTP of 83.1mpg isn’t as impressive as the old 94.1mpg, but you’ll stand more chance of achieving the revised figure.
Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi: 94.2mpg
This is it: the most economical car you can buy today. The usual caveats apply, such as the on-paper figure not being representative of real-world driving, and forthcoming WLTP data being more accurate, but a supermini knocking on the door of 100mpg is truly impressive. Stick to the lower-powered 75hp 1.6-litre diesel to achieve the best results in the Peugeot 208.