Overcome high fuel costs
With petrol and diesel costs continuing to soar, choosing a car which is as fuel efficient as possible is a priority for most motorists.
However, knowing which models are, and aren’t, gas guzzlers can be difficult, so here’s our unbiased guide to the most fuel efficient cars on the road, as well as why it pays to be green…
Financial advantages of choosing a fuel efficient car
Not only can the fuel savings be significant, but there are other benefits to owning an environmentally friendly vehicle, such as the 5% green car insurance discount that some providers offer.
You will also save on road tax too. Those cars in the lowest bands, from A to C, which have the lowest emissions, pay the least road tax. Cars in bank A, with CO2 emissions up to 100 pay nothing at all, while those in bands B and C, with emissions of 101-110 and 111-120, pay £20 and £30 respectively. But owners of cars that fall in to band D pay £100 per year, while those in band J pay £250. Cars in bands K must pay £270 in road tax, while those in bands L and M which produce the highest CO2 emissions must pay £460 and £475 respectively.
Choosing a greener car also means you can avoid the ‘showroom tax’ for new car buyers. This applies in the first year only, with buyers of the most polluting cars with emissions of more than 255g/km having to pay a whopping £1,030 in the first year. This will then drop down to the yearly tax cost of £475. In contrast, those choosing a car that produces less than 130g of CO2 per kilometre won’t have to pay anything at all.
There are also purchase incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, including the Plug-In Car Grant, which is worth up to £5,000 on selected models.
Some of the most fuel efficient cars
The good news is that there are plenty of fuel efficient cars to choose from. We take a look at some of the most fuel efficient cars currently on offer.
The Toyota Prius is perhaps the best-known green car on the road and has gained international acclaim over the past decade. The fuel economy of the Prius is quoted at 72.4 miles per gallon (mpg), just bettering most diesel-powered cars in the same size category. Its carbon dioxide emissions are also low at just 89g/km.
To add to all of this, the Toyota Prius is also road-tax free.
This is a 100% electric car, which means it has zero fuel emissions. It is powered by lithium-ion batteries, which is the same technology that powers your laptop or mobile phone. Running costs are cheaper than a petrol or diesel car, but you do have to charge the car for eight hours if using a normal domestic socket.
There are also purchase incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, including the Plug-In Car Grant, which is worth up to £5,000 on selected models
It is unlikely to suit those who regularly need to make long journeys as, according to Nissan, it has a maximum range of around 100 miles on a single charge. However, if you only use your car for short journeys, this car could be a winner as it is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.
This is a hybrid car that runs predominantly on its electric motor, using its engine as back-up when power is running low. However, this car doesn’t come cheap and it isn’t clear yet what sort of re-sale value it might have for owners who wish to sell it on at a later date.
On the plus side, there is no road tax or the London Congestion Charge to pay and the battery of the car is covered by an eight-year/ 100,000 mile warranty. The rest of the car has a five year/ 100,000 mile warranty.
This is one for fans of 4x4 models, and has a choice of four different trims. It has a diesel engine and averages 62.8mpg. It is in road tax band C, which means annual tax costs of £100 a year.
Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDi 70 Airdream EGS
This is Citroen’s most fuel-efficient super-mini, emitting only 87g/km CO2. It costs more than other models in the same range, but this is due to its ultra-low emissions of less than 100g/km and its low fuel consumption. It isn’t the largest car, but it does have a generous-sized boot. It uses an electronic manual gearbox which can take some getting used to, and again isn’t cheap, but it saves drivers from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.
This is a saloon-style electric car which has fuel economy of 15 kWh/ 100km and no CO2 emissions. It will suit those doing short daily journeys of under around 90 miles. The top speed is limited to 84 mph. Recharging the car overnight will cost around £3 and if driven economically, the car’s range could be as much as 115, but much less if you are driving fast. Road tax is zero and you don’t have to pay the London Congestion Charge.
Kia Rio 1.1l
This diesel-powered supermini does 88 miles per gallon and has CO2 emissions of 85g/km. It is in road tax band A which means there is no tax to pay, and drivers also don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge. The fuel cost per mile is 7.1p, based on a fuel price of 138.4 per litre.
Smart fortwo ED (electric drive)
This car is powered by a 17.6 kWh battery, which means it can reach speeds higher than 80 mph and accelerate from 0 to 60 in 13 seconds. The battery will be capable of providing a range up to 85 miles, so it won’t suit those who need to do lots of long journeys. Using a standard domestic 13A supply, the fortwo ED takes six to eight hours to receive a full charge.
This is a battery electric car which comes with an on-board generator. The battery has an electric-only range of about 40 miles, but after that the fuel powered-generator can give you an extra 310 miles driving. The combined test fuel economy is 235 mpg with CO2 emissions of only 27 g/km . The car takes around six hours to fully charge.
FIAT 500 0.9 Twin Air Turbo
This semi-automatic 5-speed car is relies on petrol, but has fuel economy of 72 mpg and tail-pipe emissions of 90g/km. This again places it in road tax category A, and means there is no London Congestion Charge to pay. It has a fuel cost per mile of 8.4p, based on a fuel price of 133.3p per litre.