Cool cars that are frugal on fuel

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By Andrew Willink
2nd September 2008

Petrol prices may have stabilised for the time being, but the inevitable increase in the cost of oil will once again have people thinking about ways to save on their weekly fuel bill. While in the past, cars that were fuel misers were not necessarily the sportiest, most fun, or flashiest cars to drive, there has recently been a move towards cool cars that are also frugal on fuel. Here are a few cars worth looking at if you’re shopping around and want to save the environment and your hip pocket at the same time:

  1. Volkswagen Polo 1.9 TDI

This small turbo-diesel has been awarded Australia’s Best Small Car award for 2007 and is not only powerful and fun to drive but also returns excellent fuel consumption, rated at just 5L per 100km. On a single, relatively small tank of 45L you can expect to travel a whopping 900km. That’s honing in on Prius territory, yet the Polo costs a fraction of the price, starting at $22,990 plus on-roads. And with an engine that pumps out 74kW of power, it’s not dull to drive either.

  1. MINI Cooper

BMW is the parent company of MINI and the build quality of these cars really shines through in everything from the interior lighting to the steering feedback and chassis. The MINI is not necessarily built to be easy on the fuel gauge, but the combination of small size and engine technology results in a very respectable fuel consumption figure of 5.8L per 100km. For a car that accelerates from 0 – 100 in 9.1 seconds, the 1.6L 88kW engine is not only fun to drive but also cheap to fill up. Add to those stats the customisability of the MINI and you have another attractive option when shopping around. The base model Cooper costs $31,100 plus on-roads, making it by far the most expensive of the three cars listed here, but the MINI does offer a lot of extra features.

  1. Citroen C3 HDi

 This hatch is relatively new to the Australian market and it comes with some impressive fuel figures. The 1.6L 66kW diesel consumes just 4.4L per 100km and comes with a price tag of $23,990 drive-away. Dubbed “the most economical conventional car in Australia”, the C3 HDi is only beaten by hybrid cars in the fuel stakes, and only by a very small margin at that. Considering the price difference, the C3 is a very tempting and affordable option. For the second year running, Citroen has been named “Car Manufacturer of the Year” at the GreenFleet Awards.

These are just a few of the great fuel-efficient cars now on the market, offering savings to the environment as well as your wallet, while at the same time performing well in terms of performance and appearance. The savings you’ll amass by driving one of these cars could really add up. If you currently drive a big family car such as a Holden Commodore or Falcon, you could be looking at half the fuel consumption. And if you’re still driving a heavy 4x4 around the city, the savings could be even greater!

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