Published on Friday 07 August 2020 in Car news
By Cars Motoring Editor Jonathan Crouch
If low fuel consumption is a priority for you with your next car, there are a variety of ways of achieving that. Of course, you don't actually have to be using any fuel at all if you opt for a full-EV battery-powered model, but you might not be quite ready for that. Let's assume you still want something with the range capability that only a combustion engine of some sort can currently give. Here are some options you might like to consider in various market categories.
The fundamental elements of Toyota's Aygo may not be unique but the way they've been packaged certainly is. In second generation form, this little city car gained a bit more personality & attitude, an evolution built upon by this usefully revised version. It's more flexible to drive, more media-savvy, more…. Aygo.
There are lots of very capable city cars on the market, but not many that are visually distinct enough to stick in your mind. Rather cleverly, this Aygo focuses on exactly that approach. Shared underpinnings with PSA Group models mean it can't be the most spacious or the most powerful car in the class, but it can offer the sassiest looks – & does. In a crowded marketplace, it's better to have a design that half your potential customers love rather than one that nobody objects to. Out back though, you'll need to pack fairly light. There's just 168-litres of space on offer.
As ever, the Aygo features a 1.0-litre three cylinder VVT-i petrol engine, though Toyota's keen to tell us that this unit's been extensively overhauled as part of the switch to Euro 6.2-specification. This delivers up to 57.6mpg on the combined cycle & up to 113g/km in manual form (both WLTP figures). Lots of tinkering has gone into improving mid-range pulling power, which means you won't have to change down quite as often if you're darting for a sudden gap in the traffic. Plus pulling away in first & second gear is now slightly easier. Efficiency's better too. And of course, it's very affordable. In our 'Offers' section, you'll find that a 1.0 VVT-i X 3-door model on offer will come in comfortably below a £200 a month budget.
The modern-era MINI Hatch has evolved a lot since BMW first launched it at the turn of the century, but it's still supremely economical. Take the popular Cooper version with its frugal 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine – you'll find a very affordable 3-Door Hatch example on our site for immediate fast delivery. In this style, this MINI can return up to 48.7mpg on the combined WLTP cycle & up to 130g/km of WLTP emissions. As a brand, MINI has come to mean all kinds of things but it's in its simplest 3 & 5-Door Hatch models that the company's products are most iconically recognisable. This third generation 'F56' design was first launched in 2014, but four years on was significantly updated to create the current car.
One of these just has to put a smile on your face when you drive it. If in a MINI Hatch, the overall feeling you're going to get is of just another supermini wearing a cute suit, you'd have to question this car's place in the overall scheme of things. Fortunately though, this third generation 'F56' model still delivers the same infectious naughtiness that loyal owners love so much. There's still the same darty steering, the same quick-fire throttle. And, at least if you're not very careful when it comes to sorting out the spec sheet, still the same unyieldingly bumpy ride over poor surfaces. Both the base petrol models feature 1.5-litre 3 cylinder engines. There's an entry MINI One model with 102hp, but you're probably going to want the rortier 136hp Cooper version. There's also a more powerful 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine available further up the range, but obviously, that won't suit a particularly frugally-focused remit.
Hyundai Kona Hybrid
It's fairly rare to find a full-hybrid small SUV crossover, but Toyota's C-HR proved that such a concept could be extremely popular. Hyundai's Kona Hybrid takes on that car directly but at a significantly lower price. It uses a 1.6 GDI petrol engine mated to a 1.56kWh battery & a 32kW electric motor, this package delivering a combined output of 141PS to the front wheels via a 6-speed dual clutch auto transmission. The efficiency result is a combined 44.1mpg (WLTP) fuel figure & a WLTP CO2 reading of 125g/km. And despite this frugality, performance is lively, 62mph from rest occupying 11.6 seconds en route to a maximum of 115mph.
Like other Kona models, there's an unusually-styled twin headlamp nose arrangement, together with a distinctive cascading front grille. Shorter rear overhangs & a low roofline create a purposeful silhouette. And inside, there's a cabin distinguished in this Hybrid variant by white trimming around the gear lever & the air vents, as well as white stitching for the seats. The rear seat is very much supermini-sized, but there's a decently shaped 361-litre boot that you can extend to 1,143-litres by pushing forward the 60:40-split rear bench.
Ford Kuga PHEV
The Kuga PHEV is the Ford brand's first plug-in hybrid. And it's a pretty effective one. There's a 35 mile all-electric WLTP-rated driving range, a super-low Benefit-in-Kind taxation rating, a WLTP CO2 emissions figure of 32g/km & a scarcely-believable WLTP-rated combined cycle economy stat of 201.7mpg. Charging from empty takes 3 ½ hours from a 7.5kW garage wallbox. From a standard 3-pin domestic plug, you're looking at a charging time of around 6 hours.
The engine here is a 2.5-litre petrol unit paired with a 108bhp electric motor, resulting in a total output of 222bhp, with the electrified part of this system powered by a 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery. As with most PHEVs, you have to have a CVT automatic gearbox. And there are a range of different driving modes, including one that focuses the drivetrain on all-electric progress. Another setting (rather inefficiently) tops up the battery using the engine; & there's an 'EV Later' mode that holds the battery's state of charge so that you could use it for town driving that you might want to do later in your journey. For the majority of time though, you can merely leave the car in an 'EV Auto' setting where the electronics will determine the most efficient use of battery & engine power. Interested? Then you'll find a well-equipped 'ST-Line'-spec Kuga PHEV affordably priced on our site – & available for fast delivery.
Larger Mid-Sized SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
When it comes to plug-in hybrids, this was the car that started it all, Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV. It's been with us since back in 2013 and to keep ahead of the chasing pack, Mitsubishi has constantly evolved it.
In 2018, the brand made significant changes to this PHEV model's drivetrain. A 2.4 Atkinson cycle petrol engine with 135PS replaced the previous regular Otto cycle 2.0-litre powerplant. This unit allows for greater pulling power, smoother acceleration & higher overall efficiency. As part of this, the generator output was increased by 10%, the rear motor output was increased by 10%, the drive battery capacity was increased by 15% & the drive battery output was increased by 10%. All significant increases.
So what will it all mean if you choose one of these? We've got a particularly affordable 'Dynamic'-spec version in our 'Cars' section. Well, the official combined cycle figure is 139.7mpg, but if your regular journeys are a combination of town & country routes mixed with sections of faster dual carriageway, you could achieve better than this; some Outlander PHEV owners say that they manage many hundreds of miles on a single gallon of fuel. But it's not simply about saving cash on petrol. This Mitsubishi isn't subject to road tax in the first year & is exempt from the London congestion charge too. And company car drivers can save literally thousands of pounds in tax in comparison with more conventional rivals.
Rapid charging can be completed (0-80%) in just 25 minutes; a 16 amp garage wallbox will charge the car in 3.5 hours & a domestic plug would take 5 hours. The all-electric driving range is rated at 28 miles and the CO2 stat is 46g/km. What else? Well there's a very handy feature included where you can request the battery to maintain a particular level of charge & you can also use the petrol engine as a generator, to drive battery power back up to 70% of its capacity. There's also a sophisticated five-level regenerative braking system that the driver can select using the wheel-mounted paddles.