The best budget gas cars you can buy in 2022 (2023)

With the cost of living rising, it's no wonder more and more car buyers are doingfuel economytheir top priority. In the past, this meant opting for a diesel model, but with diesels now on the wane, many more buyers are opting for petrol.

So the obvious question to ask is: can one get an economy petrol car to avoid the diesel option? The answer is yes – although even the most efficient petrol engines can't quite match themthe best diesels. Be careful, you might be surprised how close they can get.

You'll see what we mean when you read this countdown of the 10 most efficient pure petrol models on sale in the UK today. We've ranked them based on official WLTP combined fuel consumption figures. While these may not reflect what you'll actually be able to get out of these cars on the road, they at least allow comparison as they're all taken under the same test conditions.

We've also excluded plug-in hybrids because, while they have impressive official figures, these are entirely dependent on how much charge they have and therefore how often they're plugged in. We've also left out full hybrids – Look for a similar article dedicated specifically to them soon – but we've included mild hybrids because this more basic hybrid technology is now standard on many petrol-powered cars.

So if petrol is your fuel of choice but you're looking to maximize fuel efficiency, then sit back, grab a hot drink and let us count down the most fuel-efficient petrol cars on sale today.

The most economical gasoline cars

10. Skoda Fabia

The Fabia is the definition of a sensible small car, with plenty of space, a comfortable ride and a well-built interior. Admittedly, it lacks flash - the plastics inside are all rather hard and the handling is neutral and sharp rather than involving - but the Fabia's common sense usability and practicality make it a great way to get around. Plus, even in its most efficient form, you get a punchy little turbocharged engine that makes it great to drive.

The most economical version:1.0 TSI 95 SE Comfort

Fuel economy:55,7 mpg

Price list:from £18,350

7=. Mazda 3 Sedan

It's to Mazda's credit that the 3 makes this list. After all, every other car here is a small car with a bit of an engine – yet the 3 is a smart, family sedan with relatively big power. That shows you how smart its engine is, combining mild hybrid power and an electric turbocharger for incredible fuel economy. Interestingly, this body style is more efficient than the hatchback version, which sits just outside our Top 10, but regardless of which model you choose, the 3 is nicely finished inside and feels great to drive. The only downside is that this engine doesn't feel that powerful in use - you have to really crank it up to get the best out of it.

The most economical version:2.0 e-Skyactiv X 186 SE-L Lux Saloon

Fuel economy:56,5 mpg

Price list:from £26,265

7=.Hyundai i10

Hyundai's tiddler is one of the most well-rounded city cars on the market, with a smart cockpit, plenty of space and a decent-sized boot. That it's also very pleasant to drive is the icing on the cake. This version even comes with a few essential essentials, and comes with a five-year unlimited kilometer warranty. Admittedly, the 1.0-litre engine in its less powerful form is a bit slow – but if you want cheap and cheerful urban cruising, it's hard to beat.

The most economical version:1.0 MPI 67 SE

Fuel economy:56,5 mpg

Price list:from £13,430

7=. Ford Fiesta

Ford's mild hybrid technology wins here, because not only is the Fiesta one of the most efficient small cars on sale in the UK today, it's the second most powerful on this list. This means you get all the benefits of its super powerful little turbocharged engine while keeping your fuel bills to a minimum. Add to that the Fiesta's pleasant handling and comfortable ride, as well as a generous list of equipment, and this is easily one of the most rewarding ways to save money.

The most economical version:1.0T Ecoboost 125 MHEV Titanium

Fuel economy:56,5 mpg

Price list:from £22,015

6. Peugeot 208

The latest 208 is one of the most stylish small cars on sale today, both inside and out. Not only does it turn heads on the road with its sleek profile and smart lighting, but when you climb aboard, you're greeted by a sleek-looking dashboard filled with thoughtful design elements. Its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is also sweet, and with a refined demeanor, it makes the 208 a lot of fun to drive, even if it's ultimately not as smiley as the Fiesta.

The most economical version:1.2 Puretech 100 Active Premium

Fuel economy:56,7 mpg

Price list:from £19,080

5. Suzuki Ignis

There are few more outgoing city cars than the Suzuki Ignis. With quirky looks reminiscent of both SUVs and the classic Suzuki SC100 'Whizzkid', it stands out from the crowd of more ordinary tin cans that line the city. But its odd profile isn't purely on the surface: the high roofline creates plenty of room inside, while the sliding rear seat lets you expand boot space while retaining the ability to fit a child seat in the back. It's fun, funky and practical, in other words - not to mention super frugal.

The most economical version:1.2 Dualjet Mild Hybrid SZ3

Fuel economy:58,0 mpg

Price list:from £14,749

4. Toyota Aygo X

Like the Ignis, the third generation Toyota Aygo has a strong SUV feel about it and earns an 'X' after its name to underline this fact. However, all the features that made the Aygo so popular in the past remain: understated styling, solid reliability record, zippy engine and handling. Plus, even this base model has air conditioning and automatic headlights, so it doesn't look too spartan. And as with all Toyotas, if you keep it at a main dealer, you can extend the warranty by up to 10 years.

The most economical version:1.0 72 Pure

Fuel economy:58,8 mpg

Price list:from £14,805

2=. Kia Picanto

This latest Picanto is starting to look a bit long, but the features that once made it our favorite small car remain: there's a high-quality interior with amazing space, reassuringly crisp handling and a comfortable ride. OK, that unusual 1.0-litre engine is pretty unremarkable and the base spec is limited in terms of equipment, but it manages excellent fuel economy and of course, the Picanto gets a seven-year warranty. So if ungainly dimensions and penny-pinching fuel economy matter more, this is the one.

The most economical version:1,0 DPI ISG 1

Fuel economy:58,9 mpg

Price list:from £11,810

2=. Mazda 2

Mazda's second entry on this list comes in the form of the smart little 2. It's not a particularly popular small car, but we can't see why - it's beautiful and well-built inside, and fun to drive. Perhaps buyers will be put off by the cramped rear seats and small trunk. Mind you, if you can live with these drawbacks, the performance is incredible fuel economy of the sort you'd be happy to see from a diesel, never mind a petrol. And you don't have to live a life of poverty, because the 2 is well equipped, with cruise control, air conditioning and sat nav all standard even in this very reasonably priced entry model.

The most economical version:1.5 Skyactiv G 75 SE-L

Fuel economy:58,9

Price list:from £17,205

1. Suzuki Swift

So there it is: the most economical petrol car on sale in Britain today. The Swift is aided in this deeply impressive feat by its mild hybrid engine, which features a small electric motor to assist the petrol engine. But that's not the car's equivalent of a hair shirt. In fact, the Swift is smart to look at and a lot of fun to drive, with sharp handling and good throttle response. It's not the most spacious small car, nor the highest quality – but if you want to drive a petrol car and need the most efficient one out there, this is it.

The most economical version:1.2 Dualjet Mild Hybrid SZ-L

Fuel economy:59,7 mpg

Price list:from £15,499

This article has been updated with the latest information.

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