Korean and American Super Minis outstrip the Europeans on fuel Efficiency - 2011
Korean and American Super Minis outstrip the Europeans on fuel Efficiency
The ‘Super Mini’ is one of the most popular types of car in the UK; it includes cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, and Volswagen Polo. So we thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare the fuel economy of cars in this category. It proved to be quite a time consuming and difficult task, but the results were very surprising.
What cars are included in the survey?
There are about 30 models that could be included in the ‘Super Mini’ class, and each model has a range of engine sizes and specs, for both petrol and diesel engines, and all with different mpg figures. So how can we compare fuel efficiencies? We thought the best way to do this would be to compare like for like engines as far as possible, so we have analysed the official mpg figures for the 1.2 litre petrol engines (or nearest equivalent) for each model. This is generally the entry level for super minis and the lowest engine size option. The results for the diesel engine models will be published shortly. Recent years has seen the emergence of the very small ‘city car’ which generally has an engine of 1litre or less. We haven’t included these very small cars in this particular analysis, but we will be doing a similar survey of these cars in the future. However if you think there is a car/model not included in the list that should be, them please let us know.
Korean and American cars lead the way on fuel efficiency
Much to our surprise we found that the top 10 most fuel efficient Super Minis is dominated by Korean and American cars which make up 7 out of the top 10 cars. (See the full table of results below). Topping the league is Korean company Kia with the Picanto which has an impressive combined mpg of 65.7, well above the average of 56.07mpg. The Kia Rio also makes the top 10. Another Korean car maker Hyundai also has two cars in the top 10, the i10 and i20. Other good performers are the Chevrolet Aveo (60.1mpg) and Chrysler Ypsilon (57.6mpg), neither of these two American companies are particularly renowned for producing fuel efficient cars, however their most recent models outperform most of the European competition. Flying the flag for Europe is Fiat; both the Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda make the top 10. However the only other European car in the top 10 is the Peugeot 208 which comes in second with a very good 62.8 mpg.
So what about the other big European brands? The Renault Clio, Renault Twingo, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Polo, Citroen C3 and Audi A1 all have below average mpg figures for Super Minis and fall well outside the top 10. They are all more than 10mpg behind the league leader the Kia Picanto. In Europe the drive for more fuel efficient cars has come both from Government and the consumer in response to environmental concerns and rising fuel prices. The EC and UK governments have focused on CO2 emissions as the key instrument of policy to influence the market and manufacturers have responded with much more fuel efficient cars. Makers such as Chevrolet and Chrysler are relatively recent entrants to the European small car market and have clearly put a lot of work in to producing cars with good fuel economy, as have the Korean companies. Both the American and the Korean manufacturers are now leading the way over the big European companies for fuel efficient Super Minis.
What is the difference in petrol costs?
The table shows the annual fuel costs of all the cars in the survey at different levels of mileage using the current price of petrol. Based on the official combined mpg figures, if you drive 10,000 miles each year the league leader Kia Picanto 1.25 (65.7 mpg) would cost £254 less per year in petrol than the joint bottom of the league Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI (51.4mpg). This saving increases to £508 per year at an annual mileage of 20,000 miles.
It should be noted that the official mpg figures are not an accurate reflection of the fuel economy you would get in real life (see our article real mpg.) You should not expect to achieve the published MPG performance on the road. The actual mpg achieved will depend on the type of driving you do and your driving style (see How to save on your petrol bills). However one advantage of the official figures is that all cars have undergone exactly the same test in the same conditions, so they do provide a comparative guide to general fuel economy. The other issue is that these figures are all that is available to carry out any sort of comparative analysis. (Please complete our real mpg survey if you are driving one of these cars and help us collect some alternative mpg data!) Fuel economy is only one of many factors to consider when purchasing a new car, however our survey has shown that it is worth comparing MPG figures, it might be quite surprising. Who would have thought Chevrolet would have a small car more fuel efficient than a Renault, Volkswagen or Honda?