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10 of the Most Efficient Cheap Used Cars

10 of the Most Efficient Cheap Used Cars

AA Cars expert helps choose affordable and efficient second-hand models and gives tips to get the best MPG from your car

Despite the painful costs of driving, many of us rely on our cars every day, so it’s important to make the most of every gallon of unleaded or diesel fuel.

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With that in mind, we spoke to James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, to get his advice on how to maximize a car’s efficiency and some of the best fuel economy affordable used cars.

James told us: “Driving your car more efficiently can save you a lot of fuel and will also reduce wear and tear, reducing your overall maintenance costs over time.

“With manual transmission cars, upshifting a gear earlier can reduce fuel consumption, as the engine is not running at higher revs. However, be careful not to run the engine as this can cause long-term damage.

By anticipating what other road users will do and situations on the road, you can also accelerate and brake more smoothly and safely, reducing fuel consumption. Taking your foot off the accelerator and letting the friction of the tires and engine slow the car can also help reduce fuel consumption and reduce wear on your brakes.

Make sure your car is not carrying excess weight as the engine will have to work harder and if the engine works harder it will use more fuel. Make sure you only have the essentials in the car for the journey – don’t fill your suitcase with clutter.”

The most economical affordable used cars

While driving techniques can help maximize fuel economy, the amount of fuel you spend is largely determined by your car’s fuel consumption, so it’s important to keep this in mind when shopping for a new vehicle.

Engine technology in new cars, especially the introduction of hybrid systems, has helped improve the economy for many models, but for drivers on a more modest budget, there are still many older cars with impressive efficiency.

Here are 10 of James’ most fuel-efficient used cars for under £6,000.

Volkswagen up. Up to 55mpg

This VW is practical and fun to drive, while the engine size keeps it cheap to drive. Primarily a city car, it is ideal for navigating narrow streets, but is equally enjoyable to drive on highways. It is often a popular choice for new drivers due to the maximum five stars on the Euro NCAP safety rating. As an added bonus, it is one of the cheapest cars in the country to insure.

Toyota Aygo. Up to 58mpg

Toyota recently replaced its popular city car with the new Aygo X. The good news is that there are plenty of Aygos available on the used market to suit every budget. The Aygo is a very affordable car to drive, and its compact size makes it ideal for busy streets and tight parking spaces. There’s generous leg and headroom in the Aygo’s front seats, but the rear seats are a little cramped for adults.

Citroen DS3. Up to 78mpg

The Citroën DS3 is a discontinued supermini, with its most efficient 1.6-litre diesel delivering over 78 mpg. However, its petrol counterpart is much less efficient. It’s a striking car to look at, with a high-quality interior, but it has substance to match that style. It has a strong grip and feels alert and agile in the corners.

Volkswagen Golf. Up to 74mpg

The Volkswagen Golf has a well-deserved reputation as a great all-round family hatchback and its larger size may suit some people better. It has a spacious cabin with a suitcase-friendly case, and you’ll find it’s a quiet, comfortable ride. In our price range, you’re looking at sixth-generation models, where even “performance” diesel versions offer 55mpg economy and the economy-focused Bluemotion models get up to 74mpg in official testing.

Toyota Prius. Up to 65mpg

The original Toyota Prius was one of the first mass-produced hybrid vehicles to be offered for sale and remains one of the best on the pre-owned market, along with the second-generation model. Fuel economy is one of its greatest assets, but it also offers a quiet, relaxed ride. The Prius has proven to be a very reliable vehicle and Euro NCAP has awarded the Toyota Prius five out of five stars for its excellent safety features.

Honda Insight. Up to 61mpg

The Insight was one of the first hybrids to hit the UK market, and fuel efficiency remains one of its biggest selling points. The earliest versions of the Insight can be a bit of a bumpy ride, but more recent models have much improved suspension to make travel a lot smoother. It comes with excellent safety scores and Honda has an excellent reputation for reliability, which means there are very few issues.

BMW 3 Series. Up to 60mpg

The BMW 3 Series with its 318d engine promises low running costs combined with the performance features you would expect from a brand like BMW. Its light steering provides a smooth ride and feels well balanced when cornering. As would be expected from a BMW, you will find an attractive interior with a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustments.

Peugeot 208. Up to 83 mpg

The Peugeot 208 is a highly efficient supermini, with even petrol models scoring over 60mpg in official tests. However, anyone who regularly travels long distances could really benefit from one of the diesel models, which offered a staggering 83mpg economy in the first-generation 208. As with all the cars on our list, these numbers come from lab testing and are hard to achieve in the real world, but the 208 remains a hugely efficient option for drivers on a budget.

Skoda Fabia. Up to 83mpg

Skoda Fabias offer very low fuel consumption even in petrol versions, but the Greenline models with their 1.2-litre diesel engine are especially worth checking out, as they are optimized for fuel consumption and focused on comfort. Despite this, the Greenline has a fairly loud engine and can be a bit slow to drive. In terms of maximizing fuel efficiency, it’s a winner, but deserves a test drive first to see how you feel about handling. Even less economy-oriented models, such as newer 1.4 TDIs, still deliver up to 68mpg in official testing.

Hyundai i40. Up to 67 mpg

The Hyundai i40 is an ideal family car with its spacious cabin with enough room to seat four comfortably, and five can fit quite easily too. It glides easily over the bumps and potholes making it a comfortable journey, although it can produce a bit more engine noise than some of its main rivals.