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Want a cheap and fuel-efficient new car? From the Suzuki Swift to the Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid, we list the top picks for under $30,000 for buyers on a budget

The Yaris has a great reputation for safety and it’s efficient even in petrol guise.

Electric cars are gaining in popularity in Australia, but for a large swathe of the population, the premium pricetags are still too much of a barrier.

Remember, the cheapest EV in Australia (depending on the state you’re in) is the upcoming BYD Atto 3 SUV from China at $44,381 before on-road costs - so close to $50k on the road.

Given the increasing cost of living and sky-rocketing fuel prices, it’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in interest in fuel-efficient, affordable new cars.

For those that aren’t ready to fork out the cash to buy an EV just yet, there are some great options at the entry-level end of the new-car market.

And some of those cheap models are among the most fuel-efficient of all new cars available in Australia. So we have pulled together a list of some of the most affordable fuel misers money can buy.

To keep it fair, we have only included models that start from less than $30,000 before on-road costs. And note that availability of some of these variants has been impacted by the global parts and supply chain issues, so check with dealers to find out more specific delivery times.

The Volkswagen Polo Life is an affordable European option. The Volkswagen Polo Life is an affordable European option.

Light hatchbacks

The Suzuki Swift GL automatic hatchback starts from $21,490 before on-roads, representing excellent value for money. The Swift has been a popular nameplate in Australia for decades and the current model, while nearing the end of its life-cycle, is still a great little car to drive. With an average fuel consumption figure of just 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres, it’s also one of the most efficient.

Another Aussie favourite is the Toyota Yaris hatchback, and while it copped a price increase with the new-generation version a couple of years back, the current Yaris is one of the most impressive offerings in its class. It has a lengthy list of standard safety gear and the Ascent Sport powered by the 88kW petrol engine paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) sips just 4.9L/100km.

Yes, the Yaris Hybrid is even more efficient at just 3.3L/100km, but we opted for the petrol model here because at $23,740, it’s much more affordable than the cheapest hybrid Yaris SX which kicks off at $29,130.

If you’re after an affordable European offering, the Volkswagen Polo 70TSI Life is the most affordable Polo money can buy, and it’s offered with a five-speed manual only. It is priced from $25,250 and the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine ensures a very decent fuel use figure of just 5.4L/100km.

The Nissan Juke uses just 5.8L/100km of fuel. The Nissan Juke uses just 5.8L/100km of fuel.

Small cars

The most fuel-efficient small hatch or sedan is the Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid. Starting at $27,395, the Corolla uses just 4.2L/100km, ensuring fewer trips to the petrol station that some of its main rivals would require.

Mazda has a surprisingly efficient offering in the Mazda3 G20 Pure auto. The base 3 consumes 6.2L/100km, and it has a price tag of $27,540.

Another Japanese small car with decent fuel economy is the Subaru Impreza, sipping 6.6L/100km. The 2.0i-L hatchback comes with a CVT auto and all-wheel drive, and since Subaru dropped the base variant - simply called Impreza 2.0i - the 2.0i-L is now the entry point to the range at $27,490.

Light SUVs

If you’re after something with a little more ride height than a small hatch or sedan, but still want to keep costs down, there are a few little SUVs to consider.

Once again Toyota tops this list with another hybrid - the Yaris Cross to be precise, in GX Hybrid guise. It costs $28,990 and is the cheapest petrol-electric grade in the range. And it has an official fuel use figure of just 3.8L/100km.

It might be a stretch to call it an SUV, but the Suzuki Ignis is also a very efficient little car, sipping 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle. The GL auto is a bargain at $20,490.

Another adorable and efficient model to consider is the Nissan Juke. The base ST auto starts from $27,990 and you’ll use 5.8L/100km.

The Kia Seltos is another affordable and efficient small SUV. The Kia Seltos is another affordable and efficient small SUV.

Small SUVs

If you need a bit more space, then one of these sub-$30,000 offerings might be a better fit.

The Hyundai Kona can use 6.2L/100km of fuel, and the base petrol version - dubbed Kona - with two-wheel drive and an automatic transmission is priced from $26,900.

Suzuki returns to the list with the Vitara, which in base two-wheel drive auto guise costs $27,990 and consumes 6.2L/100km.

Finally the Kia Seltos S auto kicks off at $27,290 and claims to use 6.8L/100km. Granted there are a number of other models in this segment that use less fuel than that, including some hybrids, but they all start over $30,000.