Most economical used petrol cars 2022

Top used petrol cars with the best MPG and low running costs. Here are the 10 most fuel efficient petrol cars on sale now

John Evans
Jan 17, 2022

If you’re looking to buy a car that’s cheaper on fuel, you may be wondering what your options are in 2022. Traditionally, diesel cars were the obvious choice for cheaper running costs, but recent revelations about their toxic air emissions mean many prefer to stick to an economical petrol car. Economical hybrids are also an option, but petrol cars are often cheaper to buy and maintain.

When shopping around for the most economical petrol cars you may have noticed more recent fuel economy figures appear lower than before. Since September 2018, a more accurate test standard was introduced, named the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Whilst figures produced in these tests may seem worse, they’re just more realistic than older testing standards which weren’t so trustworthy.

The updated test is much more stringent than before, so fuel efficiency figures are not comparable with those produced by the outdated and simply inaccurate ‘New European Driving Cycle’ (NEDC). In actual fact, the newer and tougher WLTP tests push carmakers to improve the fuel economy of their cars, so whilst more recent numbers appear worse, recent petrol engines are likely more efficient than ever before.

Unfortunately, the downside is that you’re likely to come across a mix of economy figures based on the old and new tests which makes it confusing to decide on which cars really offer the best mpg. All new figures must be WLTP based, but old brochures and spec sheets could still be showing old NEDC figures and it’s not always stated which test was used.

Fear not, however, as we’ve put in the work to investigate and provide you with a list of the most economical petrol-engined cars available on the new and used market in 2022.

Most economical petrol cars 2021

WLTP fuel economy test

WLTP stands for World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). It's a new fuel economy test sanctioned by the EU and intended to produce more representative fuel consumption and CO2 emission figures than its predecessor, the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). 

Cars are tested in a laboratory for 30 minutes and over 14.4 miles at an average speed of 28.9mph and a maximum of 81mph.

The new test lasts 50% longer than before and the cars are tested over twice the distance. Speeds are higher and gear shifts made to suit the vehicle being tested rather than at set points. Acceleration and deceleration is more aggressive and engines put under a wider range of loads. Finally, to make things tougher still, the ambient temperature at which the car is tested is lower.

1. Peugeot 108

Used deals from £6,288
Monthly finance from £224*
WLTP combined economy
58.9mpg

The Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 are two closely related city cars based on the Toyota Aygo. However, the 108 is the most economical of the three. Its advantage is so negligible though that it shouldn't be your only criteria if you're trying to differentiate between them.

Other factors in the 108’s favour include its comfortable ride, equipment levels and scope for personalisation. On the downside, the 1.0-litre petrol engine is feeble and the rear seats are more cramped than rivals.

The Citroen C1 is cheaper than the Peugeot, although it shows on the inside with its lower quality interior. Other differences between the Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota merely come down to personal taste and what finance deals you prefer on one over the other.

PEUGEOT 108 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Suzuki Celerio

Used deals from £5,750
Monthly finance from £0*
WLTP combined economy
58.9mpg

Suzuki’s smallest car is a humble city-dweller designed to do the important things well. Despite being small, it has a roomy and practical interior and in every spec other than the entry-level one there is a competitive level of standard equipment. Its fuel economy figure is almost as good as the Peugeot 108, making it cheap to run, too.

If only the interior looked less low-rent and the steering were a little sharper and less vague it would be a lot more attractive.

SUZUKI CELERIO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota Aygo

Used deals from £4,695
Monthly finance from £0*
WLTP combined economy
57.7mpg

The Aygo doesn't quite achieve the class-leading economy of the closely related Peugeot 108 on paper, but under the new WLTP test, 57.7mpg isn't to be sniffed at. However, despite similarities between the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1, the drastically different styling of the Aygo helps it stand out alongside the other two. If you’re a fan of its bold X-shaped nose and striking looks you might consider the Aygo as it’s more unique.

The Aygo delivers on the road as well with agile handling, although the steering could be sharper and more direct and the 1.0-litre petrol engines are lively. The back seats are a little cramped but cars like the Aygo are designed primarily for short, urban journeys so that’s unlikely to be an issue for most buyers.

TOYOTA AYGO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Citroen C1

Used deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £0*
WLTP combined economy
57.3mpg

The C1 is the least economical in the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 family, but in real-world terms the difference between all three of these cars is likely to be negligable.

Like its cousins, the C1 is nippy and easy to drive but it's cheaper than the other two. This lower price is evident in the car, however, as its interior is the lowest quality too, while it shares the same cramped rear seats as the Aygo and 108. When push comes to shove, issues such as styling and finance offers are likely to favour one over the other.

So, if you like the look of one of the three it's worth considering the other two as well, to see which suits your needs best.

CITROEN C1 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volkswagen Up

Used deals from £5,000
Monthly finance from £152*
WLTP combined economy
55.4mpg

The Up has the distinction of being the most economical in another trio of related city cars, sitting alongside the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. There’s not much in it but this greater fuel economy is one of several reasons why the VW is regarded as the most rounded of the three.

We also consider the Up to be more grown-up, stylish and upmarket than either the Citigo or Mii, with a better interior and overall build quality. It's a trendy little car with an impressive breadth of ability. The boot is small but not bad for a car its size. Prices are also a little higher for the Up, so as with the 108-Aygo-C1 trio, it's worth considering which one suits you best.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Skoda Citigo

Used deals from £5,245
Monthly finance from £0*
WLTP combined economy
54.3mpg

The Skoda Citigo just trails the VW Up in the economy stakes. Their engines produce the same power but the Citigo is slightly more liberal with its fuel consumption. Nevertheless, the Skoda’s interior feels slightly less sophisticated than the Up. It’s an impression most keenly felt in the most basic Citigo, so it's worth opting for a higher specification version if this bothers you.

The option of a variable boot floor raises the floor closer to the bottom of the boot opening, making it easier to load bulky or heavy items in, while leaving a hidden compartment beneath for additional luggage.

The Seat Mii is the other sibling to the Up and Citigo, offering an alternative styling flair with the same comfort and space. Fuel consumption is the least economical of the three, although your driving style is likely to make the biggest difference if we’re honest as there’s not much in it.

SKODA CITIGO BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Vauxhall Astra

Used deals Limited stock
WLTP combined economy
54.3mpg

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it would only be city cars on this list, but the previous-generation Vauxhall Astra manages to compete with its impressive economy. With a WLTP figure of 54.3mpg, the Astra manages to match the Volkswagen Up’s mpg while offering more space and practicality.

The 1.2 Turbo offered in the Vauxhall Astra comes with three different levels of power depending on your tastes, but all are just as efficient as each other. The ride is comfortable and it’s a good value car, especially if you want more space than the rest of our listings. Be aware though, that with more passengers on board and more stuff in the boot your fuel economy will suffer.

SEAT MII BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Seat Ibiza

Used deals from £8,100
Monthly finance from £0*
WLTP combined economy
53.3mpg

The Seat Ibiza isn’t as big as the Astra and sits in a slightly smaller class of superminis, but it’s still bigger than a city car which makes it more practical. It’s the most economical in its class, and yet achieves a fuel economy figure equal to that of the Mii. That’s some achievement given that you gain a whole load of performance courtesy of the Ibiza's more powerful turbocharged engine (95hp compared with the Mii’s 60hp).

Along with its impressive economy the Ibiza is one of the best small cars available. It's stylish, practical and fun to drive. Unfortunately, poor equipment levels for the most basic models and questionable interior quality let it down. Strong value finance offers mean you could get a higher specification model for less than you think, however.

The Volkswagen Polo is an alternative with the same engine as the Ibiza, and although it’s down by 1mpg in comparison, it offers a more mature driving experience and higher quality interior, albeit at a higher price.

SEAT IBIZA BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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