Compact, dynamic, and at the same time comfortable and fuel economical – small city cars have to meet many seemingly contradictory goals. We check which new city cars consume the least fuel.
City cars today have to face many difficult challenges. Due to strict emission and safety standards, they are becoming more and more expensive – and yet they have to compete for the buyer with the price. In addition, their sale is more and more effectively “nibble” small crossovers, valued, among others for greater ground clearance and higher driving position.
However, city cars have their traditional advantages: they are already mature enough to even transport more than 2 people in emergency, but also compact enough that they can easily cope with the city noise. Besides, not everyone needs a crossover – especially since its price will be higher than that of a classic hatchback.
The transformation that small cars have undergone in recent years has increased prices, but it has also affected their competences. Today they are often… compacts, but closed in smaller bodies. Modern city cars offer advanced equipment elements, until recently known from higher-class cars (e.g. adaptive cruise control or even a real head-up display, available in Toyota Yaris), have sensible, around 300-liter trunks and are comfortable enough also while driving highway.
Significant changes have also taken place in terms of drive. First, diesels have become a niche. Yes, they are still available on some models, but they usually cannot be paired with an automatic transmission, which is a welcome addition when driving around town – which is why we have omitted them in our comparison. Besides, diesel with diesel particulate filter plus city is not the best combination in terms of durability.
Secondly, modern gasoline engines have become more efficient – turbo-charged units in traffic jams consume on average approx. 8 l / 100 km, sometimes even less, and at the same time provide very good performance (0-100 km / h in approx. 10 seconds) and have pleasant characteristics, with plenty of torque.
And finally, thirdly, there are also city cars with a hybrid drive. While mild hybrid systems (soft hybrids) do not bring a significant reduction in fuel consumption, for example, a Toyota hybrid drive that allows you to periodically move only with the power of an electric unit, turns out to be really economical.
How does it look in numbers? For our comparison, we selected 7 city cars with engines / drives of comparable power and automatic transmissions and rated them according to the city fuel consumption we recorded during our tests.
Best Fuel Efficient City Cars 2021
- 2021 Toyota Yaris
- 2021 Citroen C3
- 2021 Ford Fiesta
- 2021 Mazda 2
- 2021 Peugeot 208
- 2021 Volkswagen Polo
- 2021 Suzuki Swift
2021 Toyota Yaris Hybrid
The latest generation of city Toyota is even more economical than the previous one, and at the same time has a new, more powerful hybrid unit (116 hp). The support of the electric motor makes the Yaris Hybird provide good dynamics from the bottom, and in the traffic jams its drive is exceptionally smooth and quiet. Toyota effectively dampened it and dealt with the phenomenon of uniform loud operation of the combustion unit during aggressive acceleration, known from its predecessor.
The Yaris Hybrid has an easy-to-use dashboard, has a confident handling, and a quiet suspension. Most importantly, it burns very little – in our city tests it consumed 4.5 l / 100 km. It needs the same on the road.
The standard specification includes an automatic gearbox (here: the so-called e-CVT transmission), as well as a very extensive equipment, including a multimedia system with a 7 ″ screen, a rear view camera, numerous assistance systems (including intelligent cruise control), automatic air conditioning, LED- new taillights and interfaces to integrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphones. The projected high durability and low loss of value as well as a 3-year mechanical warranty (up to 100,000 km) are also important.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 4.5 l / 100 km
Version price: $ 21,000
2021 Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech (110 hp) AT6 Shine
Citroen draws attention with a characteristic styling with a lot of personalization possibilities (colors of accessories can be selected) and almost flat, soft seats and plush suspension. Its comfortable character differs from most rivals, although the soft tuning of the chassis does not affect driving safety.
The 1.2-liter turbo engine is lively at low revs, but when accelerating, its 3-cylinder nature is heard in the form of a characteristic “rumble”. The unit provides good performance (0-100 km / h in 10.0 seconds), but the combination with the automatic significantly increases its fuel consumption – in the city fuel consumption is close to 8.0 l / 100 km. The route is just over 5 l / 100 km.
In terms of equipment, the C3 in the Shine version offers a decent standard: there are reversing sensors (but no camera) and a collision warning. However, there is no more extensive list of support systems. $ 1,450 can be saved by choosing a copy with a manual 6-speed gearbox – unfortunately the Citroen gearbox is not very precise.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 7.8 l / 100 km.
Version price: $ 20,000
2021 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost (100 hp) AT6 Titanium
The Fiesta has a successful, perky 1.0 EcoBoost 3-cylinder (125hp) engine with good working order and a refined chassis that is fun to drive without sacrificing comfort. Unfortunately, it belongs to the tighter city cars, and in combination with the automatic unit, its engine loses one of its advantages – it ceases to be economical. In the city it needs over 8 l / 100 km, while on the road – approx. 5.5 l / 100 km. In addition, acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in our tests is an average of 12.2 seconds.
For this reason, it is better to buy Ford in the version with a manual 6-speed gearbox – $ 18,530 is enough even for the 125 HP version (Titanium).
In terms of equipment, the Fiesta Titanium represents a reasonable class standard – as does the C3 Shine. It is worth buying a package of driving assistants (including a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, blind spot assistant) for $ 1,200.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 8.4 l / 100 km
Version price: $ 21,000
2021 Mazda 2 1.5 Skyactive-G AT6 SkyMotion
Mazda has its age, but has been comprehensively updated as part of the last facelift. The version with manual transmission also received a soft hybrid assembly (not available for the automatic machine) – and this is the variant we recommend. The variant with an automatic gearbox requires as much as $ 2,750, significantly worsens the performance (0-100 km / h in 12.0 instead of 9.7 seconds) and increases fuel consumption by approx. 1 l / 100 km.
The version with the manual gearbox – which works very precisely – is economical in the city (approx. 6.5 l / 100 km), and on the road it needs less than 5 l / 100 km. In addition, by resigning from the automatic machine, for the price of the poorer version of SkyMotion you can buy a better equipped SkyPassion variant (including blind spot assistant with monitoring the rear zone when reversing, rear parking sensors, heated seats).
Apart from the Yaris, the Mazda is one of the most agile city cars (9.4 m turning diameter). It is a pity that its firm suspension is quite loud and provides average driving comfort.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 7.5 l / 100 km
Version price: $ 21,300
2021 Peugeot 208 1.2 PureTech (130 hp) AT8 Allure
The new 208 was named Car of the Year for a reason – it’s a very mature car. It offers a very comfortable workplace for the driver and has a comfortably tuned suspension. The disadvantages of 208 include small rear door and an average amount of space on the couch, as well as cumbersome operation of most functions (e.g. ventilation) through the screen.
1.2-liter R3 turbo engine with 130 HP (structurally related to the Citroen unit) in combination with the 8-speed ensures very good dynamics (0-100 km / h in 8.7 seconds), and also – compared to petrol units competition – it’s not particularly fuel-greedy. Petrol consumption in the city is below 8 l / 100 km, and when driving slowly on the road – about 5 l / 100 km.
Unfortunately, 208 with an automatic machine is expensive – the Allure version costs over $ 23,000, and the equipment does not stand out from its rivals. An alternative may be visiting the Opel showroom – a technically close Corsa with the same drive costs from $ 21,000 (Elegance).
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 7.8 l / 100 km.
Version price: $ 23,600
2021 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI (115 hp) DSG Highline
Like Peugeot, Volkswagen is a structurally mature car, spacious and with a large trunk (up to 351 l) for a city car. It has very comfortable seats even on long journeys and a well-designed, balanced chassis.
The 1-liter TSI engine is not very loud and can be economical – it consumes approx. 5.5 l / 100 km on the road, and approx. 7.5 l / 100 km in the city. It makes a successful duo with a 7-speed transmission that does not take away its spawn (0-100 km / h in 10.4 seconds) and responds efficiently to changes in load.
For less than $ 21,500 we will get a Polo with poor equipment (the Highline version has, for example, “only” manual air conditioning, and parking sensors require an additional fee). Meanwhile, you can buy a Seat Ibiza with the same drive unit as much as $ 18,600 – also spacious, pleasant to drive city car, and with a 5-year warranty.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 7.4 l / 100 km
Version price: $ 21,500
2021 Suzuki Swift 1.2 CVT (83 hp) Premium Plus
Swift, like Mazda, does not have a soft hybrid system in the automatic transmission (here: continuously variable CVT). In addition – apart from the use of the machine – fuel consumption increases. On the other hand, it is worth considering resigning from the manual transmission, because it has only 5 gears, and the CVT variant costs only more $ 260.
One way or another, the Swift with the naturally aspirated 1.2 DualJet engine is one of the most economical city cars: in the city it consumes approx. 6.5 l / 100 km, including thanks to his moderate weight (1000 kg). However, this has far-reaching consequences: the Suzuki is small (245 cm wheelbase is one of the smallest in its class, the luggage compartment has a capacity of 265 liters) and delivers average performance (0-100 km / h in 12.2 seconds). It is not really a car for long trips – you can feel susceptible to gusts of crosswind on the road.
Swift can be purchased at an attractive price, but the finish is much more budgetary than in European cars or Toyota and Mazda, and the standard equipment of the Premium Plus version lacks, for example, automatic air conditioning (it is manual) and an anti-collision system. In Euro NCAP tests the model got “only” 3 stars.
Test fuel consumption in urban traffic: 6.6 l / 100 km
Version price: $ 16,800
In the segment of city cars, there is also a practical and inexpensive Skoda Fabia to choose from – although its design has its age (debut in 2014), and the automatic transmission is not offered for the 1.0 TSI (110 HP) engine.
There are also Korean cars to choose from. The 2021 Kia Rio and 2021 Hyundai i20 are available with a 1.0 turbo 3-cylinder (T-GDI) engine and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. However, we have not had the opportunity to test these models in such configurations yet.
Another proposal is the new 2021 Renault Clio – a successful city car, which we had the opportunity to test with a 130 HP 1.2 turbo engine (unfortunately not very economical – approx. 5.5 l / 100 km on the road and 8 l / 100 km in the city). Renault has just introduced a hybrid version of the Clio with a naturally aspirated 1.6 combustion engine (system power 140 HP, prices from $ 22,900), but we have not tested such a vehicle yet.