AA Cars expert helps choose affordable and efficient pre-owned models and offers tips to get the best MPG from your car
Despite the painful cost of motoring, many of us rely on our cars every day, so it’s important to get the most out of every liter of unleaded petrol or diesel.
With that in mind, we spoke to AA Cars CEO James Fairclough to get his advice on how to maximize a car’s efficiency and some of the best value affordable used cars around.
James told us: “Driving your car more efficiently can save you a lot of money on fuel and will also cause less wear and tear, which will lower your overall maintenance costs over time.
“For manual cars, moving up a gear earlier can reduce fuel consumption, as the engine won’t run at higher revs. However, make sure you don’t run the engine, as that can cause long-term damage.
By anticipating what other road users will do and the situations ahead, you can also accelerate and brake more smoothly and safely, which can reduce fuel consumption. Similarly, by taking your foot off the gas and letting the friction of the tires and engine help slow the car down, you can also reduce fuel consumption and brake wear.
Make sure your car is not overweight as it will mean the engine will have to work harder, and if the engine works harder it will use more fuel. Just keep the essentials for the trip in the car, don’t fill your trunk with clutter.”
While driving techniques can help maximize economy, the amount you spend on fuel largely depends on your car’s economy, 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 of many models, but for drivers with more modest budgets there are still plenty of older cars with impressive efficiency.
Here are 10 of James’ most fuel efficient used cars under £6,000.
This VW is practical and fun to drive, while the size of its engine keeps it economical. It is primarily a city car and ideal for driving on narrow streets, but it is equally enjoyable to drive on motorways. It is often a popular choice for new drivers due to its top five star Euro NCAP safety rating. As a bonus, it is among the cheapest cars to insure in the country.
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 for all budgets. The Aygo is a very economical car and its compact size makes it ideal for busy streets and tight parking spaces. There’s generous legroom and headroom in the Aygo’s front seats, but the rear seats are a bit cramped for adults.
The Citroen DS3 is a discontinued supermini, with its more efficient 1.6-litre diesel getting over 78mpg. However, its gasoline counterpart is much less efficient. It’s a striking car to look at, with a high quality interior but has substance to go with that style. It has strong grip and feels alert and agile in the corners.
The Volkswagen Golf has a well-earned reputation as a great all-around family hatchback and its larger size might suit some people better. It has a spacious cabin with a trunk that fits a suitcase, and you will find it a quiet and comfortable trip. At our price point, you’re looking at sixth-generation models, where even the “performance” diesel versions offer an economy of 55 mpg and the economy-focused Bluemotion models manage up to 74 mpg in official tests.
The original Toyota Prius was one of the first mass-produced hybrid vehicles for sale and remains one of the best available on the second-hand market, along with the second-generation model. Its fuel economy is one of its greatest strengths, but it also offers a calm and relaxing drive. The Prius has proven to be a very reliable vehicle and Euro NCAP awarded the Toyota Prius five stars out of five due to its excellent safety features.
The Insight was one of the first hybrids to go on sale in the UK, and fuel efficiency remains one of its biggest selling points. Early versions of the Insight might be a bit of a bumpy ride, but more recent models have much better suspension to make rides that much smoother. It comes with excellent safety scores and Honda has a great reputation for reliability, which means problems are few and far between.
The BMW 3 Series with its 318d engine promises low operating costs combined with the performance features you’ve come to expect from a brand like BMW. Its light steering makes it a smooth ride and feels well balanced in the corners. As you’d expect from a BMW, you’ll find an attractive interior with a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustments.
The Peugeot 208 is a highly efficient supermini, with even the petrol models getting over 60mpg in official tests. However, anyone who regularly travels long distances could really benefit from one of the diesel models, which in the first generation 208 offered a claimed economy of up to 83 mpg. As with every car on our list, those numbers come from lab tests and are hard to come by in the real world, but the 208 is still a very efficient option for drivers on a budget.
Skoda Fabias offers great fuel efficiency even in a petrol version, but the Greenline models with their 1.2-litre diesel engine are particularly worthy of attention, as they have been optimized for fuel economy and geared towards comfort. Despite this, the Greenline has a reasonably loud engine and can be a bit slow to drive. In terms of maximizing fuel efficiency, it’s a winner, but it deserves a test drive first to see how it feels about its handling. Even less economy-focused models, like the newer 1.4 TDI, still get up to 68 mpg in official tests.
The Hyundai i40 is an ideal family car with its spacious cabin with enough room for four people to sit comfortably, and five can fit in quite easily as well. It glides over bumps and potholes with ease, making for a comfortable ride, although it can make a little more engine noise than some of its main rivals.
Birmingham Commonwealth Games: How can I get to the events?BBC Table of Contents Register to our newsletter NationalWorld TodayThe Most Fuel Efficient Affordable Used Carsread moreVolkswagen Up. up to 55mpgToyota Aygo. up to 58mpgCitroen DS3. up to 78mpgVolkswagen Golf. Up to 74mpgToyota Prius. up to 65mpgHonda Insight. up to 61mpgBMW 3 Series. Up to 60mpgPeugeot...
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