• Oct 2nd 2009 at 1:01PM
  • 69
2009 Smart ForTwo Cabriolet – Click above for high-res image gallery

There are many European cars that can be considered very fuel efficient. However, have you ever tried to put them on a list and finding out how efficient they really are? If you follow us after the jump, you will find that list, which shows Europe's 15 most fuel-efficient vehicles.

Interestingly, the list doesn't include just city cars, either. On it, you'll find subcompacts as well as compacts. Unsurprisingly, the truth is that you'll find that most of them are diesels which, thanks to the upcoming Euro V rules, now include DPF (diesel particulate filters) as standard. Perhaps even more unsurprisingly, the Smart CDI came out on top.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.
[Source: Auto News]

Model Power Avg. cons.
mpg U.S.
Fiat 500 1.3 JTD Multijet 16V Pop DPF 75 4.2 56
VW Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion DPF 105 4.1 57
Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI GreenLine DPF 80 4.1 57
Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFlex CO2 Pack DPF 75 4.1 57
Audi A3 1.6 TDI Attraction DPF 105 4.1 57
Toyota iQ 1.4 D-4D DPF 90 4.0 59
Renault Twingo 1.5 dCi Rip Curl 84 4.0 59
Volvo S40 / V50 1.6D DRIVe Start/Stop DPF 109 3.9 60
Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe Start/Stop DPF 109 3.9 60
Toyota Prius 1.8 Hybrid 136 3.9 60
Mini One D DPF 90 3.9 60
VW Polo 1.6 TDI BlueMotion 90 3.7 64
Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive DPF 80 3.7 64
Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic DPF 90 3.7 64
smart fortwo coupé 0.8 cdi pure softip DPF 54 3.4 69

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Prius is also one of the largest vehicles on the list, save for the V50 and maybe the A3. It also produces the most power.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I drive a diesel van that doesnt have a turbo but its anything but slow...
        • 5 Years Ago
        But the diesels make it up with their extra torque.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Make up for it with their extra torque? The Prius' electric motors put out 153lb-ft of torque off the line, because electric motors put out their peak torque output throughout the entire rev range and when you're accelerating hard the gas engine kicks in a good extra amount of torque too (peak is 105lb ft but gas engines don't really hit that peak off the line like the electric motor).
        Diesels might have a lot of torque but they definitely don't immediately have peak torque from 0RPM, and since modern cars have transmissions and gearing the lack of top end horsepower definitely does translate into lower overall power.

        Even carrying around it's batteries and all that, the Prius is by far the most powerful, fastest, and largest car on the list. I suppose it wouldn't actually be too hard for Toyota to make a diesel Prius that got some ridiculous mpg, but of course the issue is that it would start costing a lot more money.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very well put, Mike. I am probably going to rent an A3 TDI when I do to Sydney next week... but somehow I'm not sure it will be as much fun as I expect.

        Maybe this is why these companies are only offering higher-output diesels in the US, because we're too power hungry.

        To be fair, do you really need to go 0-60 in under 10 seconds in most of Europe's big cities? Doubtful.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Good points but not everyone is going to be concerned about performance numbers. The important thing is your needs vs wants. My small diesel meet my needs. Great. If it had more pep it would be useless as driving in town means that power is not used at all. As for my wants, I have some of them fulfilled by my other much larger and powerful vehicles.

        Not every car has to be high powered just as not every car has to be small and underpowered. Some people don't care much for cars, it's just something to get them from point A to point B. If you think something is underpowered, fine but no one is making you buy it. If you wanted more power, there are other options but you probably have to pay a premium (eg: hybrids cost more) or compromise (more power normally means less fuel efficiency, etc..). But realize, there are people who are fine with what these A and B-segment vehicles. In my perfect driving world, all I would need would be a Miata (smile or no smile).
        • 5 Years Ago
        After having lived in Europe for 3 months, it's rare that you need a lot of power. If you're driving in the big cities, and especially the small villiages, you're not going anywhere fast, period. Therefore, no need for big power.

        The 120hp diesel I had was good enough for cruising at 160 km/h on the autobahn.
        • 5 Years Ago
        When people buy these cars, they aren't buying for performance. So if you expected performance from these vehicles, I'm sorry but you'll be sorely disappointed. I have a diesel car myself. It is slow, that's the compromise you get. But going up a hill with 4 passengers and a load of groceries it can handle, the petrol equivalent would probably had stalled just thinking about it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When they do adopt the Hybrid technology they will be pairing it with Diesel power plant and most will be able to get 100 MPG without breaking a sweat. VW also used to offer a Lupo 3L which achieved 3L/100 Km better than all of the listed cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So VW offered a car that got more gas mileage than any other car on the rd.. gas prices the last 2-3 years have been the highest in history.. yet they dont sell the car anymore..

        Every business person in the world would say to sell the most fuel efficient car while gas prices are the highest in order to maximize sales.. why again do they not make it anymore then?

        There has to be a reason (and don't give me "government conspiracy" reason).

        The car has to have 1 or more of the following problems:

        A. Was probably VERY slow.
        B. Terribly small.
        C. Unreliable.
        D. Too expensive for what it was classified as.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "When they do adopt the Hybrid technology they will be pairing it with Diesel power plant and most will be able to get 100 MPG without breaking a sweat. VW also used to offer a Lupo 3L which achieved 3L/100 Km better than all of the listed cars."

        Very true, it achieved 94mpg (imperial) at a steady 56mph from it's 1.2 litre TDI unit. And in answer to Mike's response:

        A. Was probably VERY slow.
        If you're on a drag strip, yes. For driving around congested cities which is what it was designed for? No.

        B. Terribly small.
        It's an A-segment hatchback. Fine for someone of normal size (i.e. people who don't live on McDonalds).

        C. Unreliable.
        VW drove several of them on an around the world mileage challenge. Whatsmore, the Lupo was a very reliable car generally.

        D. Too expensive for what it was classified as.
        There's always a price premium for diesels in Europe - but they also command better residuals than petrol models.

      • 5 Years Ago
      This is why standardized tests are bad. You need to look at real world figures. In the real world the Prius' engine would have to work a lot harder, thereby decreasing the number of miles/gallon or kilometers/liter. A BMW 520d consumes less and pollutes less than a Pruis for example, in the real world. Not to mention that the Prius does not always have 136hp on tap. Actually accessing this 136hp means it would probably get worse milage than a regular 1.2 petrol car.

      And sadly for you Americans, in the real world the diesels come off even better. Those who complain about lack of power are not the intended target of these cars. That said, figures of 105hp and a bunch of torque for an A3 are more than reasonable.

      This being Europe, you can also get a lot more power for a marginal decrease in fuel economy. But you risk falling into different (more expensive) tax categories.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, no car is as efficient as a pair of skates?
      • 5 Years Ago

      Old generation VW TDI's 105 hp + 177 lb ft in a Jetta or Golf are not enough in U.S.?

      Are you kidding me? Most American drivers have no clue what acceleration is, most speed limits in U.S. are *ridiculously* low. Every damn intersection has 4 way Stop or traffic light.

      Where do you *legally* use more power in U.S.? Please, let me know so I can move there.

      One more thing ... you really cannot appreciate the diesel on a 40-50 miles test drive. I understand that, every time I'm on the road for two weeks, I need about 30-50 miles drive just to readjust and get back to driving that diesel as it should be driven. But when you get there, no gas engine is exciting anymore for everyday application. Which is everything but driving on a track.

      Go out and try to get a prolonged (weekend) test drive in a new TDI. Then come back here and tell us with a straight face how much it sucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the TDI and HDI engines totaly rock for daily use.

        they should test a Seat leon fr 150 or 170 hp tdi.
        with 7.x sec for 0-100km/h, they are awesome.
        awesome silent and smooth.
        overtaking someone on the highway, no problem @ all.
        no need to shiftback, it's instant power.

        it's just ... they want big.
        big and fast is impossible.
        our cars are inmoral for most of them and that's sad.
        driving a huge empty vihicle.

        while hatchback don't have the weight of the trunk behind the axle, they are agile corner eaters.

        check their brands websites and look how many choices they have per model.
        it's pretty sad.
        it's clearly evident that a 2.0 powered taurus(if one would exist) brakes their moral.
        (that's why their detroit almost died, it's a all or nothing mentality)

        than check european brands, their are probaly a few 100 combinations possible on a single vw golf, from 70hp to up to 250hp, Basic, Comfortline, Trendline en Highline.

        so sad

      • 5 Years Ago
      Agreed, other than the A3 Avant, wouldn't drive anything on this list. Hey has anyone made over the Sierra Nevadas yet in a Smart?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why will VW not send us a 1.6L TDI Rabbit/Golf/whatever they're calling the mk6 here, I will never know.

      If they were smart, they'd import the Polo, call it a Rabbit, and call the Golf the Golf. Put a 105hp 1.6L TDI, and a 140hp 1.8L n/a Petrol motor in it and call it a day. You'd get 35mpg from the petrol motor, and 60+ from the TDI. Start them @ $13,499 with a fully optioned out one @ ~ $16,999. Offer a Polo GTI for $18K that has a 1.6L TFSI thats ~ 175hp.Then start the Golf pricing at $15,999 for a stripped one, and carry that up to a $24,999 Golf GTI, and start the FWD Scirocco @ $25K up to an AWD loaded Scirocco @ $29,999. Boom, roasted.

      Why is this easy for me to understand, but VWoA can't seem to get it right?
      • 5 Years Ago
      considering even luxury automakers like audi have been selling cars which achieve over 70 US MPG in europe for ages, i'm not surprised. This list would be the main reason why european car makers are so slow to adopt hybrid solutions, and when they do (mercedes) why they're so inconsequential.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, that Volvo S40 does the same as the Prius, to bad they don't bring that motor to America.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the Volvo C30, but wish I could get THAT Volvo C30. :(
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think most of the people just need to change their minds a bit,

      The most fun cars to drive are the "Small Beasts", not to big, not that heavy, easy to control and with a engine that can make you play for a bit...and a manual... (or those new autos with paddles)

      The diesel are just there in that segment, you can easily modify them to get big outputs and not that heavy on your wallet.

      And that associated with a manual and a driver who knows how to drive a diesel you are there...


      Someone talked about the c5 engines go take a look at them....

      Now put one of those engines into a nice hatch and yep there you go... a really fun car to drive..

      My daily car is a 60hp atmospheric diesel (That is right an atmospheric diesel) (the tud5 form Citroen) and i normally get about 4.5liters/100km.. no common-rail... no turbo... nothing... and its and engine that will go on .. and on and on... some with 300 000km and just minor problems (water pump and alternator might start showing signs of the age).

      Does it moves? yes..... does it goes hard? it depends the way you drive....
      But I can take it to the redline and just when it's almost there is when i lose acceleration
      No problem in consumes if i do that... just walks a bit up to the 5.5liters/100km.

      Will it break limits in quarter mile? no way...

      Diesels engines are harder to communicate with... you need to understand it's limits and its advantages...

      • 5 Years Ago
      How does the higher octane rating of European fuel effect the mpg of cars running on it?

      Anyone know if it makes a significant difference?
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is actually a myth of sorts-their octane rating system is just different so the numbers are generally higher. Look on the fuel pump next time and you might see smaller text under the big 87 89 and 91/93 that shows a higher number-that's the same number the Europeans use.
        So you can drive your American car in Europe and vice versa and use the economy grade in both, the premium grade in both even if the numbers are a little off they're really the same thing just rated differently.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ok, but does European gas contain the 10% Ethanol that most US gasoline has? If I recall correctly, running ethanol as a fuel results in a lower mpg. Does that apply to blends like E10 or E15?
        • 5 Years Ago
        quote from Ninjin:
        - "If I recall correctly, running ethanol as a fuel results in a lower mpg. Does that apply to blends like E10 or E15?" -

        I'm sure there's a slight difference there. It's said that E85(85% Ethanol) will result in about 20% lower fuel economy, but you can make more power due to the higher octane. So, while there is likely a slight decrease due to the addiiton of Ethanol, it's going to be on the order of a couple percent or so.

        Ethanol results in lower mpg's because it is a less dense fuel, meaning it has less energy for a given volume, it's not related to the octane number. So, you need more of it to produce the same power. Ironically, the energy density is the same reason that diesel achieves higher mpg's than gasoline.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To naturalyshocked:

        Cars in Europe are measured using metric horsepower, which has 98.6% of a US horsepower. Therefore a car that has 200 PS/hp in Europe will only be shown with 197 hp here.

        • 5 Years Ago

        you must be idi*t
        it's RON and all european vihicles sold in the U.S. have less power.
        or do you also call this a myth,

        • 5 Years Ago
        than explain why european vihicles in the united have less power than the same vihicle here?

        our magazines, like autobild, autoweek show what for sale in the U.s.
        i had mountains of them.

        even today it's the bare truth.
        the U.S. bmw m3 has less power than the european and all other vihicles apply for the same.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The fuel door on my VW shows both figures, I can use 95 RON(European) or 91AKI(US).

        AKI is also known as (R+M)/2, it's an average of the RON and MON figures and that's why it's lower than the European figure, not because it's actually of a lower Octane content.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ninjin, in Europe octane ratings are caluclated differently, using RON ratings instead of (RON+MON)/2 as used in the States. 95 RON regular unleaded in Europe roughly equates to 89/90 in the US.
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