Electric cars do seem to be the cars of the future, thanks to their improved energy efficiency. However, before the last petrol station is transformed into a charging port, drivers must rely on petrol-running cars to get from point A to point B.

If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient car to stand in for an electric alternative, you won’t have to look far. A number of manufacturers have created reliable family cars over the past decade, which are perfect for city driving and excellent at conserving fuel.


cars parked on a street

Want to look into these small cars on a budget? Then let’s dive into the top five city cars that’ll help you save money – and energy – when using petrol. 

Kinds of cars to look for

Now, you may be asking yourself: Isn’t it better for a car to use diesel in order to conserve energy? Not precisely. The difference between petrol and diesel lies primarily in the fuels’ CO2 emissions

Petrol does release more CO2 into the atmosphere, but a number of car manufacturers have recently attempted to curb that release. With petrol being less expensive than its diesel alternative, it becomes the better of the two fuels to make use of (especially in the city) when paired with energy efficient modifications and green driving techniques. 

Driving with energy in mind

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the cars that are readily available and able to save you money while remaining energy efficient.

Volkswagen Up!

Volkswagen Up!

While the Volkswagen Up! is on the pricier side of city cars available today, that money comes back to you in petrol and in longevity, as this car is built to last. Available as either a three- or a five-door hatchback, Up! cars can drive comfortably down long interchanges and move you smoothly from one side of town to the other. 

As of February 2019, it was also deemed one of the most energy-friendly vehicles available to date. The Green NCAP awarded Up! a four-star rating out of five and noted that the car’s clean air index rated 9.2/10. While Up!’s energy efficiency could bear improvement, ranking a 6.7/10, this car still gets 4.4L/100 km, or 53 miles per gallon, and that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.

Toyota Aygo

If you’re looking for a car that’s got a distinct character and can make a bit of a scene, then the Toyota Aygo is the car for you. According to Toyota, the car’s body was inspired by an unlisted manga comic. Beneath that striking exterior, though, is an offer of versatility. 

The Toyota Aygo offers drivers the choice to choose whether to run the vehicle on petrol or diesel. A 1.0-litre three-pot offers drivers 63.2 miles to the gallon, but the fuel efficiency of the car is said to vary based on driving styles. Even so, you can’t complain about a 50mpg to 63.2mpg range, especially when you’re driving in urban areas.

aToyota car

Fiat Panda Natural Power

Then comes the Panda, an adorably-named line of cars created by Fiat and well-known internationally for their fuel-efficiency. If you’re looking for a car that drives beautifully through the city without burning a hole in your pocket, though, you need to consider the Fiat Panda Natural Power. 

This car operates on a CNG/petrol bi-fuel and is the most energy efficient version of the Panda available on the road, save for the Panda Easy. This variation on the Panda line has a fuel capacity of 72 litres. It has been reported that the Panda Natural Power can travel up to 724 kilometres – or 450 miles, give or take – on only 30 euros worth of fuel. Talk about saving money, right?

Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is also making waves thanks to its improved design, increased spatiality, and improved fuel mileage. Considered to be one of the most frugal city cars available on today’s automotive market, the i10 has a 66bhp, 1.0-litre engine that certainly doesn’t fall short. 

Relish in up to 55.4 miles per gallon along with limited CO2 release of 117g/km. You wouldn’t expect that kind of efficiency from a five-door car, but Hyundai is looking to keep up with the competition – and it’s doing fairly well, if the i10 has anything to say about it.

white car

Kia Picanto

Last but not least, there is the Kia Picanto. With an interior designed to feel roomy and availability of choice, both in number of doors and in size of the petrol engine, it is a car that feels personal. Between the 1.0-litre, three cylinder engine and the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder engine, the 1.2-litre does get the better mileage of the two. 

As long as you avoid the variation of the Kia Picanto that has the four speed auto gearbox though, you’ll be able to enjoy solid returns in terms of gas mileage. According to Kia, the Picanto delivers a mileage of up to 61.4mpg, making it a solid contender for best city car on this list.

So: if you’re looking for a cost-effective, fuel-efficient car to drive around the city, the options are many. Take into account relevant fuel saving tips and make use of the tools around you, and you’ll find that it’s easier to save money on city driving than you may have initially believed.