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Economical superminis for town and motorway

Which is cheaper – a hybrid or diesel small car?

Fuel bills are one of the biggest costs that drivers face. However, cars with the same ‘combined’ fuel economy deliver very different results on different types of roads.

As some of the cheapest cars you can buy, you’d hope superminis would also be cheap to fuel. However, some of the superminis with the highest claimed fuel economy were furthest from these official figures in our more realistic tests.

One small car that performed well in our tests is the diesel Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion, which has an official economy figure of 80.7mpg. The Toyota Yaris Hybrid theoretically shares the same claimed economy, but it depends on where you drive…

VWPolo1 1024

Volkswagen Polo: economical on the motorway

If you spend most of your driving time on the motorway or fast A roads, the VW Polo Bluemotion should be much cheaper to fuel than the Yaris Hybrid. 

The Polo returned strong motorway economy of 61.4mpg – a substantial 15.1mpg ahead of the Toyota.

These figures mean that if you covered 12,000 motorway miles in the Polo, you’d expect to pay £1,208 in fuel bills. The Yaris would cost £1,546 – substantially more than some large cars.

Toyota Yaris HSD (1)

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: economical around town

With an electric motor helping out the petrol engine, the Yaris Hybrid is at its most economical around town – with very strong real-world economy of 122.8mpg.

If your driving is mainly on urban roads, the Yaris should save you money in fuel bills. You’d pay just £583 for 12,000 miles of town driving.

The diesel Polo (still one of the most economical diesel cars around town) would set you back £1,025 in similar conditions.

Cheapest for 50:50 town/motorway driving

When it comes to an even split of driving around town and on the motorway, the Yaris is cheaper to fuel – although only by a meagre £52. 

The Yaris would cost £1,064 for 6,000 miles of urban driving and 6,000 miles on the motorway. The Polo would set you back £1,116.

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