Finding out what our favourite haulers actually do to the gallon
Hands up anyone who believes the official fuel consumption figures. Someone at the back? Oh you were just scratching your head, okay. Anyone think they could actually replicate those figures? Thought not. But what you can believe in are our figures, which are achieved out in the real world, based on a real route that involves everything from urban to motorway driving.
Here are the top ten estates and MPVs we found, the most economical ones you can buy. Interestingly, the winner showed the least discrepancy between official life and real life – so honesty pays.
10. Volvo V90 D4
Official fuel economy: 62.8mpg Real-world MPG: 40.2mpg Shortfall: 35.9%
The latest V90 is testimony to how far the Swedish brand has come in recent years. The characterful, top-quality cabin with tons of space puts it right up there with other premium brands in this top ten. Not as economical as some, but a comfy estate with a difference nonetheless.
9. Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI 190 Ultra
Official fuel economy: 62.8mpg Real-world MPG: 40.7mpg Shortfall: 35.2%
The stylish Avant has a wonderfully built cabin, built to a standard that puts some others here to shame. Add in the 2.0-litre diesel engine and you’re getting a peerless estate that really can top 40mpg.
8. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate E 220 d
Official fuel economy: 67.3mpg Real-world MPG: 41.2mpg Shortfall: 38.9%
The estate with the biggest boot here is also a pricy choice, but if you’re after a comfortable, long-distance premium cruiser that can accommodate all manner of people and other animals then this will fit the bill. But note, while this Merc has the biggest boot, it also has the biggest discrepancy between claimed and real fuel consumption. Tut tut.
7. Citroen C3 Picasso 1.2 Puretech
Official fuel economy: 56.6mpg Real-world MPG: 42.8mpg Shortfall: 24.3%
The French styling draws the eye, but under those interesting lines there is a hugely practical vehicle with loads of space and flexibility. The small diesel engine is very frugal, but so too is the three-cylinder turbo petrol option.
6. BMW 5 Series Touring 520d M Sport
Official fuel economy: 62.8mpg Real-world MPG: 44.9mpg Shortfall: 28.5%
The great-handling Touring would be just as good in cheaper SE trim to be fair, and you wouldn’t lose out on much of the plentiful kit included. Classy, spacious and technologically advanced, this is a first-rate estate.
5. Skoda Fabia Estate 1.2 TSI 90
Official fuel economy: 60.1mpg Real-world MPG: 46.6mpg Shortfall: 22.5%
One of the smaller estates, the Fabia Estate offers all the plus points of the hatchback – and there are many – along with a big cargo area, enhancing its practicality and value once more. It’s also best with this small petrol engine, ideal if you’re worried about the future of diesel.
4. Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 Dynamique Nav
Official fuel economy: 61.4mpg Real-world MPG: 47.3mpg Shortfall: 22.9%
With a contemporary and stylish exterior, the Grand Scenic has the practicality of seven seats as well as a decent luggage area. Perhaps not as spacious or comfy as some rivals, it’s still a vehicle with many attractions.
3. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Official fuel economy: 74.3mpg Real-world MPG: 48.0mpg Shortfall: 35.3%
For a handsome piece of family transport, the Grand C4 Picasso is hard to beat. There’s acres of room inside, and it comes with enormous versatility. There are a few niggles, like the fiddly infotainment system, but there’s lots more to like.
2. Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150
Official fuel economy: 68.9mpg Real-world MPG: 49.8mpg Shortfall: 27.7%
Capable of a whisker under 50mpg, the Superb Estate offers tremendous value for money, both in buying and running terms. With a remarkably capacious interior comes a decent range of engines, and no real downside.
1. Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI 115
Official fuel economy: 61.4mpg Real-world MPG: 50.9mpg Shortfall: 17.2%
With the 1.6-litre diesel engine, the Touran is the only vehicle here to actually crack 50mpg in the real world. The Touran is based on the VW Golf, so there’s all the practicality and good build that you’d expect along with a driving experience that is far more car than MPV. A worthy winner, and a relatively honest one too.