The affordable small cars with the best fuel economy


Small car buyers want to save money on not only the initial purchase, but on running costs into the future.

So what kind of fuel economy can you expect from these small cars that won’t break the bank?

We’ve taken the models outlined in the small cars less than $40,000 category of the VFACTS sales charts to see which is the most frugal, saving you money in the long run.

We’ve only included the most fuel efficient variant of each model, as some trim levels, body types, powertrain, and drivetrain options can cause numbers to vary.

The BYD Dolphin has been excluded from this list, as it is the only fully-electric car in the segment.

Click on the links below to jump to your chosen car, or scroll through the story.

Toyota Corolla

Leading the way are Toyota’s hybrid Corolla sedans, which post a claimed 3.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

Opting for the hybrid hatch will increases that figure to 4.0L/100km, with the range starting at $32,110 before on-road costs for the Ascent Sport.

Corolla petrol sedans, which start at $29,270 before on-roads, drink 5.9L/100km, while the hatches again increase that number to 6.0L/100km.

Fuel economy is left by the wayside in the powerful GR Corolla, which posts 8.4L/100km with its turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

The GR is priced at $62,300 before on-roads, and requires more expensive 98 RON petrol.

Toyota Corolla
Fuel economy (claimed) 3.9L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 43L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Toyota Corolla
MORE: Everything Toyota Corolla

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Hyundai i30

Another car with a frugal hybrid option, the hybrid i30 sedan also claims a combined 3.9L/100km.

At $33,000 before on-road costs, the hybrid sedan is $4000 more expensive than the cheapest petrol model.

i30 sedans with the 2.0L naturally aspirated engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) feature the range’s best non-hybrid fuel economy with 6.1L/100km, with the cheapest of the three options starting at $29,900 before on-roads.

The i30 also comes in the performance N variant, and its automatic sedan is the most efficient with 8.3L/100km.

The manual N sedan and all N hatches post 8.5L/100km on the combined cycle, and start at $46,200 before on-roads.

Hyundai i30
Fuel economy (claimed) 3.9L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 42L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Hyundai i30
MORE: Everything Hyundai i30

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Skoda Scala

The only European car and the first petrol-only car on this list posts a claimed 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle.

Of the Scala’s two variants it’s the cheaper Ambition 85TSI that is the most efficient, which starts at $33,590 before on-road costs.

At $42,090 before on-roads, the higher-end Signature 110TSI is only slightly less efficient with a claimed 5.5L/100km on the combined cycle.

With a larger 50L fuel tank, the Scala is also the first car on this list to require 95 RON petrol across its range.

Skoda Scala
Fuel economy (claimed) 5.3L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 50L
Fuel type 95 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Skoda Scala
MORE: Everything Skoda Scala

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MG 5

The MG 5 is Australia’s cheapest sedan, with claimed combined fuel economy of 5.7L/100km in Vibe guise.

The MG 5 range has two different 1.5L engines, with the Vibe variant starting at $24,990 drive-away and the Essence at $28,990 drive-away.

The more powerful Essence has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic compared to the less powerful Vibe’s CVT, and both variants come with a standard seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

MG 5
Fuel economy (claimed) 5.7L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 50L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about an MG 5
MORE: Everything MG 5

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Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 uses a claimed 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle in its least powerful G20 guise.

Specifically the G20 sedan is the most efficient Mazda 3, priced at $30,470 before on-road costs for the base Pure, $32,020 for the Evolve, and $34,670 for the Touring.

All Mazda 3 hatches match the price of their sedan siblings, but are slightly less efficient with a combined claim of 5.9L/100km.

The range is covered by Mazda’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, but you only get features like wireless charging and wireless phone mirroring in the more expensive Touring variant.

Mazda 3
Fuel economy (claimed) 5.8L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 51L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Mazda 3
MORE: Everything Mazda 3

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Kia Cerato

Only one model in the Kia Cerato range has a claimed fuel economy of 6.8L/100km on the combined cycle.

Specifically the range-topping GT hatch and sedan are the most efficient, which both start at $36,860 before on-road costs.

The GT sedan is slightly worse on fuel at 6.9L/100km, however it is still considerably more efficient than the rest of the Cerato range which has a claim of 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle.

Kia backs its Cerato with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Kia Cerato
Fuel economy (claimed) 6.8L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 50L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Kia Cerato
MORE: Everything Kia Cerato

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Subaru Impreza

The least efficient car on this list is the Subaru Impreza, which posts a claimed 7.5L/100km on the combined cycle.

All three Impreza variants post the same fuel economy, and are more efficient than only the performance GR Corolla and Hyundai N models on this list.

The range starts at $31,490 before on-road costs.

Subaru Impreza
Fuel economy (claimed) 7.5L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 50L
Fuel type 91 RON

BUY: Get in touch with a dealer about a Subaru Impreza
MORE: Everything Subaru Impreza

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