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As petrol prices continue to fluctuate, fuel efficiency in cars is just as relevant as ever - and with continued doom and gloom surrounding the planet, the greener the car, the more beneficial it could be to society as a whole.
Fuel economy plays a big part in why we buy the cars that we end up buying, and lower fuel consumption is certainly a reason to choose one particular car over another.
Even though new cars have never been more fuel efficient, it still pays to do your research to determine the most fuel-efficient cars available for your budget. Understandably, smaller cars tend to perform better at the pumps than larger cars, but you’d be surprised at how well some larger cars perform thanks to hybrid technology.
We’ve collated a list of the most fuel-efficient cars in Australia in their respective size categories to give you a snapshot of how you can drive your dollar further.
To make it easy to compare costs, we’ve included the official combined cycle claimed average fuel consumption of each vehicle and calculated the price of fuel over 15,000km (widely considered an average year’s driving in Australia).
We chose automatic transmission-equipped cars, as it is the most popular transmission choice in Australia by far, and comparing manual versus automatic cars is unfair.
Prices are based on the type of fuel required, with pump prices set at $1.41 for 91 octane, $1.53 for 95 octane, $1.59 for 98 octane and $1.51 for diesel - based on figures from June 2019 averaged across all fuel brands in NSW, sourced from www.fuelcheck.nsw.gov.au. All car prices listed below are before on-road costs (unless stated otherwise), and all fuel figures are quoted are manufacturer-supplied combined fuel economy figures.
Electric cars were calculated using manufacturer-supplied charging and range information, and cost calculated at 34c/kWh (the Australian average) in off-peak time for electricity.
Lighter cars require less force to move, and therefore less fuel. Of course, that size comes at the cost of practicality for luggage and people, but on the whole, the most efficient city cars are actually pretty useful.
Small-capacity petrol engines rule the roost in the battle for the most economical small cars on the market; diesel engines are too heavy for such small cars.
|Renault Zoe Life||Audi A1 1.0TFSI S-Tronic||Skoda Fabia 81TSI DSG|
|Engine||Electric motor||1.0-litre turbo 3-cyl||1.0-litre turbo 3-cyl|
|Fuel cost over 15,000km||$697||$1010||$1079|
The recent added affordability of hybrids, EVs and plug-in hybrids means that both petrol and diesel fuels are no longer the most efficient for small car motoring.
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid||Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid||Toyota Prius|
|Engine||Electric motor||1.6-litre 4-cyl plug-in hybrid||1.6-litre 4-cyl hybrid||1.8-litre 4-cyl hybrid|
|Fuel/charging cost over 15,000km||$490||$531||$720||$720|
The medium segment continues to decline in sales thanks to the rise of the SUV, but there are still a number of buyers, and a number of models, competing in this segment.
|Toyota Camry Hybrid||Peugeot 308 Touring diesel||Lexus ES300h Luxury|
|Engine||2.5-litre 4-cyl hybrid||2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl||2.5-litre 4-cyl hybrid|
|Fuel cost over 15,000km||$964||$1042||$1056|
You don’t buy a sports car expecting good fuel economy, but these three options give thrills and decent economy in normal driving.
|Alpine A110 Pure||Mazda MX-5 1.5 Roadster||Porsche 718 Boxster|
|Engine||1.8-litre turbo 4-cyl||1.5-litre 4-cyl||2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl|
|Fuel cost over 15,000km||$1423||$1469||$1607|
With new car buyers continually gravitating towards SUVs, one might expect to pay more to fuel them - but not these options.
|Hyundai Kona Electric Elite||Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ES ADAS||Toyota RAV4 GX hybrid 2WD|
|Engine||Electric motor||2.0-litre 4-cyl plug-in hybrid||2.5-litre 4-cyl hybrid|
|Fuel type||Electric||91RON/plug-in hybrid||91RON|
|Fuel/charging cost over 15,000km||$665||$598||$995|
Just because luxury cars can cost buyers significantly more to buy doesn't mean fuel consumption is not worth considering, and with these three contenders, some of the lowest running costs in the whole country are on offer.
|Audi Q7 e-tron||BMW 530e||Mercedes-Benz E350e|
|Engine||3.0-litre turbo V6 plug-in hybrid||2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl plug-in hybrid||2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl plug-in hybrid|
|Fuel cost over 15,000km||$1058||$750||$810|