Using the words of Bob Dylan, “Times, they are a changing” and this is certainly true when we look at the habits of the new car buyer. Successive governments have failed to curb our excessive fuel demands, indeed, for many years cars just seemed to get bigger and bigger, with fuel consumption figures dropping, sometimes barely hitting double figures. Then came the troubles in the oil producing regions of the world, swiftly followed by the credit crunch and all of a sudden attitudes have changed. Market forces have influenced the new car buyer and as a result, the car manufacturers have moved swiftly to fill the chasm that is opening in the marketplace, the need for comfortable, but fuel efficient new cars. Listed below are ten economical new cars, not in any particular order, or indeed, not even market leaders, what they do have in common though is their ability to travel over fifty miles per gallon on the combined cycle. They may not be the answer to all our problems, buy they are certainly a step in the right direction.
MINI Cooper 1.6 D
The 1.6 diesel MINI Cooper has had the EfficientDynamics treatment by BMW, low rolling resistance tyres, electric power steering, an intelligent alternator control / brake energy regeneration system, an automatic stop-start function and a high precision Direct Injection system are amongst the advances that have been applied to the new diesel Cooper and as a result it achieves a staggering 72.4 miles per gallon on the combined cycle.
Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion
Powered by a 1.4 litre, three cylinder, diesel engine that is fitted with a with a variable-geometry turbocharger that gives maximum assistance at low speeds, the Polo Bluemotion is one of the leaders in its class. Volkswagen have used a few tricks to get the Polo Bluemotion to perform as frugally as it does, the obligatory low-rolling-resistance tyres, lightweight alloy wheels and improved aerodynamics all contribute to the Bluemotion achieving 74.3 miles per gallon on the combined cycle. Exhaust gas recirculation and a particulate filter give the Polo another advantage over most cars in the UK market, Co2 emissions of only 99g/km, resulting in zero road tax. Low cost motoring at its best.
Audi A3 1.9 TDIe
Audi may not be the first manufacturer that comes to mind when it comes to economical cars, but this just goes to show how serious manufacturers are now taking the situation we find ourselves in. The A3 1.9 TDIe is powered by a reworked diesel unit and this combined with aerodynamic tweaks, low-resistance tyres and a ‘recommended gear’ display mean the Audi will travel 62.8 miles for every gallon on the combined cycle. So, if you you’re looking for a car with green credentials, but don’t want to compromise on quality, the A3 1.9 TDIe may tick all the boxes you require.
Citroen C1 1.0i Vibe 3 door
The Citroen C1 could just as easily be substituted with the Peugeot 107 or the Toyota Aygo as they all share the same platforms and the same engines, that said the C1 was chosen for one thing and one thing alone, price. Designed in collaboration between the three manufacturers, all are extremely capable city cars with low road fund bandings and good mpg figures, slight cosmetic differences are really the only things that set the models apart, that and the fact that Citroen run slightly better offers making them the lowest priced model. Powered by a one litre petrol engine the C1 will return 61.8 miles per gallon on the combined cycle and has Co2 emissions of 108 g/km.
New BMW 1 Series 118d EfficientDynamics
Voted World green car of the year in 2008 by 47 journalists from 24 different countries, the BMW 118d EfficientDynamics makes use of energy capture systems, brake energy regeneration, auto stop-start, optimum gear-shift change indicators, electric power steering and lightweight body panels to achieve a quite remarkable 62.8 miles per gallon on the combined cycle. With BMW expecting sales of 700,000 cars a year in Europe that have EfficientDynamics incorporated, the fuel savings are estimated to be in the region of 33 million gallons, quite a substantial saving by anyone’s book
Ford Fiesta ECOnetic
When it comes to economical new cars the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic has to be up there with the best of them. Powered by a specially tuned 1.6 litre diesel engine the Fiesta ECOnetic is the most economical Ford and possibly the most economical car around at the moment. Longer gear ratio’s, a gear change indicator, aerodynamic wheel trims, low rolling resistance tyres, lowered suspension and the fact that it weighs about 40 kgs less than the outgoing Fiesta mean that the ECOnetic will let you drive 76.3 miles on the combined cycle for every gallon of diesel you put in. Ford may be struggling in the US, but with figures like these the Fiesta ECOnetic it sure to prove a big hit in Europe.
Volkswagen Touran 1.9 TDI DPF BlueMotion S 105 5dr
Unfortunately not everybody can utilise a small city car or hatchback, after all some people do have families and this obviously restricts their choice when it comes to buying a new car. For those in that position, Volkswagen has come to the rescue in the form of the Touran Bluemotion. The Extremely popular MPV sports a new front grille and air intake, optimised aerodynamics, lower suspension and higher gearing along with low rolling resistance tyres, combined, these improvements mean that the Touran Bluemotion will return 52.3 miles per gallon on the combined cycle. Proving you don’t necessarily have to downsize to do your little bit.
New Toyota Prius 1.5 VVT-i
When launched, the Toyota Prius was seen by many as just a gimmick, as a result both Lexus and its parent company, Toyota, have stolen a bit of a march over their competitors. Exemption from the London congestion charge has certainly helped to raise the profile of the Prius and as a result it has become a common sight on the roads throughout the UK. Powered by a 1.5 litre petrol engine and a high output electric motor the Prius switches between the two, the electric motor takes charge at low speeds (up to 28 mph), with the petrol engine taking the strain at higher speeds. The result, a combined cycle of 65.7 miles per gallon, making the Toyota Prius an ideal car not only for the city, but also for those who choose to commute.
Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI PD 80 GreenLine
Another offering from the Volkswagen stable to take a trip down to the wind tunnel is the Skoda Fabia Greenline, it may not quite match up to the Polo Bluemotion or the Seat Ibiza Ecomotive, it is however, quite a bit more frugal than the rest of the Fabia range. Achieving 68.9 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, the Greenline should theoretically drive 689 miles on a full tank, put into perspective, that’s seventy miles more than a standard Fabia 1.4 TDI. The Greenline may cost a little more than its siblings, but with petrol and diesel prices as they are, it won’t take very long before you’ve recouped the cash.
New Mazda 2 1.3 TS
Generally, as we get older, we add weight, something that also seems to happen to cars. Redesigns and facelifts always seem to add a few pounds here and there and as a result larger, more powerful engines are required just to achieve the same performance. Not so with the new Mazda 2. When Mazda launched the new 2 model it weighed in an incredible 100 kgs lighter than the model it replaced. It’s safer (five stars from EuroNCAP for adult occupants), has more equipment as standard, yet still manages 52.3 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, quite an achievement really.