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Top 10 Thrifties

The 10 class leaders in drinking less fuel.

Jordan Schmidt
January 18, 2023
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Top 10 Thrifties

The world is rapidly moving towards EVs and Hybrid systems; however, this kettle of a car is yet to grab the undivided attention of most road users. With an ever-increasing fuel price, investing in a vehicle that won't cost you an arm and a leg on your daily run is becoming increasingly important. Here are some expected and, well, unexpected contenders for the frugality crown.  

10. Performance SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan R (Claimed 8.8/100 km)

Performance SUVs are notorious for their massive engines and ability to burn through 93-litre fuel tanks in a matter of hours. Yes, these cars are fun to drive, but it comes at a cost. However, a few models are more manageable in the fuel consumption department. The new Volkswagen Tiguan R is an impressive car, and it doesn't drink nearly as much as its supercharged V8 competitors, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0- litre 4-cylinder motor. The Tiguan does have some competition in the form of the Hyundai Kona N, which registers a claimed 8.9l/100 km. Still, being a bigger, faster and more enjoyable small SUV, the Tiguan R is the better option for those looking for practical thrills without breaking the bank. 

9. Super Saloon: Alfa Romeo Giulia QV (Claimed 8.2l/100 km)

This wouldn't be a TopGear list without a tyre-eating monster, even if the topic is based on fuel consumption. When digging around the interwebs for the most fuel-efficient super saloons, the Giulia QV was a surprise. Super saloons are not designed to be fuel efficient by any means, but the claimed consumption of this Alfa is impressive. However, what you save in fuel will most likely be used to maintain the QV since it has a reputation for breaking down. The Giulia is inarguably one of the most fun sedans to drive since it's fast, lively, sounds incredible and will give you a reality check should you misbehave. The claimed fuel consumption from this 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 may very well put it back at the top of some ownership bucket lists. 

8. Roadster: Mazda MX-5 (Claimed 6.9l/100 km) 

Sports cars are known for being fast-guzzling machines. There are a few sportier vehicles that prioritize weight over power; something the MX-5 is well-known for. As a tiny package with a small naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, this car is by no means the fastest sports car, but, then again, that's not the point. The MX-5 is a fun but, more importantly, affordable sports car, which is why it is so popular amongst younger enthusiasts. 

7. : Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi Double Cab Hi-Rider XL (Claimed 6.5l/100 km) 

The Ford Ranger isn't a typical contender in the conversations revolving around fuel efficiency. Still, as far as bakkies are concerned, it rates well amongst the most fuel-efficient cars in SA – you know, if you consider the claimed figures. The Ranger averages a respectable 6.5l/100 km allowing this 2x4 workhorse to not only bounce along the gravel roads effortlessly but will cost you less to do it. That said, it's hard to match Ford's claimed 6.5l/100 km with realistic figures likely to match that of the 2.4-litre Toyota Hilux and the 2.0-litre VW Amarok.

6. Mini MPV: Renault Triber 1.0 (Claimed 5.5l/100 km)

Over the years, the stigma that larger, 7-seater cars will cost you a fortune in fuel has slowly diminished. Sure, you won't get the same numbers as you would with a compact car, but it's inching ever closer. That's the beauty of the Renault Triber. It's the leader in its class for fuel consumption, with a claimed consumption of 5.5l/100 km, thanks to clever packaging on Renault's part. In fact, this impressive figure even trumps some really compact cars. We're still not sold on the overall looks, but the form follows the function to a large extent. If that works for you, your bank account won't be complaining.  

5. Crossover: Renault Kiger 1.0 (Claimed 5.3l/100 km) 

Recently we have seen Renault produce surprisingly fuel-efficient cars in all different shapes and sizes. We've also seen the rise of the crossover, essentially a vehicle that resembles your more compact cars' familiar driving characteristics but in a slightly larger and lifted package. The Renault Kiger is the product of this industry shift and is currently the most efficient crossover available at an impressive claimed consumption of 5.2l/100 km. These figures are remarkable, especially for a crossover. Add to that its stylish look, and it's clear that Renault may be on to something here. 

4. Sedan: BMW 320d (Claimed 5.0l/100 km)

Surprisingly, the 3 Series BMW, specifically the diesel models, have had a brilliant reputation for fantastic fuel consumption. We know from first-hand experience just how impressive the engine in this heavy sedan is. The distance between fill-ups is eye-opening, and the power these engines produce is remarkable. It's one of the most fun yet economical cars around; no wonder they're so popular. Mostly all 2.0-litre diesel BMW vehicles share these characteristics, even when traced back a few generations.  

3. Small SUV: Renault Duster 1.5dCi (Claimed 4.8l/100 km) 

Another Renault on an efficiency list. It's hardly a surprise, really. Clearly, Renault is doing something right. The Renault Duster does what it's supposed to and so much more. This Small SUV is a phenomenal option for the avid adventurer and will allow you to travel further than most. It is a solidly-built SUV, too. Sure, this SUV has some overly-utilitarian aspects, but Renault has made strides in keeping it relatively up-to-date. Most importantly, it doesn't require regular trips to the filling station.

2. Budget Hatchback: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL auto (Claimed 4.2l/100 km) 

The Suzuki Celerio is a car that blends into traffic. It seems unimpressive on the surface, but with one of the best new-car fuel consumption returns and an impressive 5-year/200,000 km warranty, there's no argument as far as running costs are concerned. The little Suzuki will keep going whilst everyone else complains about the fuel price. Although it's not the prettiest of the bunch, it's a brilliant run-around vehicle. It has enough space for four, decent cargo space, and an affordable price tag. 

1. Hatchback: Fiat 500 TwinAir Cult at (Claimed 4.0l/100 km)

You don't have to be a car fanatic or mechanic to know that the most fuel-efficient cars are of the small, compact variety. And they don't come much smaller than the Fiat 500. It's a tiny Italian car with lots of style, character and near-unbeatable economy figures – even if that means it's lacking somewhat on the power front. Its small engine won't look out of place on a motorbike, and the 500's small stature makes it perfect for inner-city driving. If part of your commute is done on the highway, you might have to rethink this one... 


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