The most economical cars to run


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Which hatchback family car will cost you the least to run?

When it comes to buying a car, it's not just the up-front price you need to consider. The cost of running a car should be a significant consideration too. A big part of this lies in how economical a car is when it comes to using fuel.

Manufacturers have to provide figures indicating how many miles to the gallon a motor is capable of, so buyers can get an idea of how far fuel will stretch when using the vehicle.

However, these figures are formulated in laboratory conditions so don't provide a real indication of how a car will perform in the real world.

Luckily WhatCar? magazine has derived a test to discover the 'True MPG' of a car.

True MPG

The WhatCar? test route starts with urban driving at an average speed of 15mph, followed by dual carriageways and motorways at an average speed of 60mph and is finished off with another urban loop.

Engines are brought fully up to temperature before starting a fuel test and drivers hold a steady pace, avoiding heavy acceleration and braking whenever possible.

Using all manner of sensors and high tech equipment WhatCar has been able to create a system where we can find a car's True MPG.

The research so far has found that there are six family petrol hatchbacks which produce between 104bhp and 138bhp and beat 40mpg using real-world fuel economy.

So if you're looking for an economical family car here are the top six to go for.

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1. Seat Leon 1.2 TSI 105

Official mpg: 57.6mpg
True mpg: 45.4mpg

The third generation Seat Leon is the most economical car to run according to the WhatCar? True mpg test.

It's been a good year for the Spanish manufacturer as the Leon also won the Auto Express New Car Award 2013 after years of missing out to sister brands Volkswagon and Skoda.

The 1.2 TSI 105 has the smallest engine of the top six cars in the WhatCar? lineup, so unsurprisingly is the most efficient of the group.

As well as being efficient it's a great family car. You get plenty of cabin space and an impressive boot size of 380 litres - 65 litres more than in a Ford Focus!

The cheapest in the range is the 1.2 S-trim, but even as a starter model you get a decent standard of equipment with things like air-conditioning, Bluetooth, 5" colour multimedia screen and tyre-pressure monitoring included.

You can buy a new Seat Leon 1.2 TSI 105 S 5-door from £15,850.

2. Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv-G 120

Official mpg: 55.4mpg
True mpg: 42.8mpg

The stylish Mazda 3 is second on the list of the most economical family cars to run. And like the Seat you can get a starter model relatively cheaply, but with a generous helping of the best mod cons.

The entry-level SE models come with alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard. Plus, in terms of size, the 3 is almost on par with the Seat Leon.

WhatCar? says it's a fun car to drive and although it misses out on the top spot for fuel economy, it's not far off so worth a look.

The 2.0 Skyactiv-G 120 5-door is available from £16,995.

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3. Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122

Official mpg: 54.3mpg
True mpg: 42.5mpg

The Audi A3 was named Car of the Year 2013 by WhatCar?, but only manages third place on its list of the most economical family cars to run.

It's not the cheapest motor, but the A3 offers plenty of space with a boot size of 380 litres on the Sportback. That's perfect for a family with a lot of gear to transport.

WhatCar? says it should definitely make the shortlist if you are looking for a decent sized hatchback.

The Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122 5-door can be purchased from £20,200

4. Kia Ceed 1.6 GDi 133

Official mpg: 52.3mpg
True mpg: 42.1mpg

The Kia Ceed provides an exceptional amount of space (1,318 litres with the seats down) and comfortably transports five adults.

Its large 1.6 engine can almost match the economy of rivals, but WhatCar? says the petrol version of this car is a disappointment compared to the diesel in terms of driver enjoyment.

The Kia Ceed is available in four trim levels. Top level Ceed '4' gets you parallel park assist system (PPAS) which automatically parks your car! But your basic trim '2' isn't exactly rubbish with reverse parking sensors included.

The Kia Ceed '2' 1.6 GDi 133 5-door is available from £16,195 and comes with the Kia seven-year warranty.

5. Mercedes A180 BlueEfficiency 122

Official mpg: 51.4mpg
True mpg: 41.5mpg

The new A-Class looks pretty great with its sharp exterior and smart cabin, and the A180 has attracted high praise from the likes of Top Gear magazine who claim it's enough to rival the BMW1-Series and the Audi A3.

But WhatCar? says that even though safety and equipment levels are up there with the best (you get alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard with every model) it's a disappointment to drive.

If you want to be the judge, the A180 is the cheapest Benz you can buy. You can get the A180 BlueEfficiency 122 five-door from £20,370.

6. Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI 140

Official mpg: 53.3mpg
True mpg: 40.6mpg

Last but not least is the Skoda Octavia.

It's not the most stylish motor of the lineup but WhatCar? reports that the petrol engines are smooth and quiet, while the cabin is a comfortable and spacious place to sit - six-foot adults can sit comfoirtably behind similar-sized adults at the front with leg-room to spare!

If you fancy it the 1.4 TSI 140 is available from £18,390.

Find your True MPG

New models are added to the True MPG database every week and you can check what your car's True MPG rating is using the WhatCar? calculator.

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