5 most fuel-efficient cars we’ve recently tested

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Volkswagen Up!
The Volkswagen Up!

Here at CAR, we gather road test information for every single vehicle we receive. Part of our road test procedure includes taking each car on a 100 km fuel route, which consists of 50% urban and 50% extra-urban driving, in an attempt to mirror the New European Driving Cycle in real world conditions.

In January 2015, we altered our route to closer align it to this driving cycle, and have since tested 183 vehicles. Of these, the five below returned the most successful results, making them the most fuel-efficient cars we’ve ever tested in the real world since the change…

5. Suzuki Celerio 1,0 GL auto (Fuel Route: 5,7 L/100 km; Car Fuel Index: 5,5 L/100 km)

Suzuki Celerio

The Celerio is an affordable hatchback that does a damn fine job of ticking all of the necessary boxes, which is why we consider it one of the leaders in the micro-hatch segment. We have criticised its archaic transmission setup, but the result of its fuel run evidently spoke for itself as it returned a figure that its rivals could not come close to.

4. BMW 220d Active Tourer auto (Fuel Route: 5,5 L/100 km; Car Fuel Index: 5,2 L/100 km)

BMW 220d AT
It’s arguably one of the most versatile vehicles in the BMW range, so the fact that it has a very efficient turbodiesel powertrain is a huge plus. The turbocharged 2,0-litre diesel engine is found throughout the range of BMW models, but it seems to work best in this quirky multi-purpose vehicle when mated to the dual-clutch transmission.

2=. BMW i8 (Fuel Route: 5,3 L/100 km; Car Fuel Index: 2.5 L/100 km)

BMW i8
Considering that the fuel route resulted in a figure far removed from the CAR fuel index, this outcome isn’t the best. But the i8 is the only hybrid and the only performance car on this list, which is proof that, despite not coming remotely close to meeting its claimed figure, it is still a successful combination. The i8 was also able to bag CAR‘s Top 12 engine of the year award in 2015.

2=. Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 1.0 TSI (Fuel Route 5,3 L/100 km; Car Fuel Index: 5,0 L/100 km)

Polo 1,0 TSI
The updated BlueMotion is rather frugal thanks to the implementation of a turbocharged 1,0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, and the results speak for themselves, with the VW matching the i8 on our fuel route and thus tying for second place. The block is the same one you will find in the Up!, but with added oomph thanks to a turbocharger (and very little penalty in the way of consumption).

1. Volkswagen Up! (Fuel Route: 5,1 L/100 km; Car Fuel Index: 5,6 L/100 km)

Being a CAR Top 12 winner, there is very little that the Up! doesn’t have going for it. It boasts respectable packaging at an affordable price and it is the most fuel-efficient car that we have seen on our fuel route since the change. All thanks to the combination of a rather frugal 1,0-litre three-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission and a low mass.

For something a little more tongue-in-cheek, check out the 5 biggest gas-guzzlers on SA’s new vehicle market, according to manufacturer consumption claims…

  • Tigeress

    No 1.2 /1.4/1.5 or 1.6 Diesel?

  • The Outsider

    Surprisingly only one diesel vehicle?