With fuel still very expensive and environmental issues at the forefront of the news, the pressure is on all of us to buy a car which uses as little fuel and emits the smallest amount of CO2 possible. Car makers have stepped up to the plate in this regard and have made their cars considerably more economical and much cleaner, meaning that there’s an awful lot more choice if you want to go eco-friendly. Not only will this save our bank balance but it might just help save the world too. With this in mind, Auto Trader has rounded up the top 10 most efficient cars around.

Volkswagen XL1
Quite simply, this is the most fuel-efficient car in the world. Capable of returning up to 313mpg and emitting just 21g/km of CO2, this diesel-hybrid is miles ahead of the competition. It’s got space-age looks and is packed with fuel-saving tech. All this eco-friendliness doesn’t come cheap, though – it’s mooted to cost around £100,000 when it goes on sale.

Vauxhall Ampera
The Ampera, and its Chevrolet sibling, the Volt are what are known as Range-extending hybrids. Basically, these use a small petrol engine as an on-board electricity generator to power the electric motor which sends its power to the front wheels. The car can also be recharged at home, giving around 35 miles of range on a single charge with zero tailpipe emissions. This extends to 300 miles when the engine kicks in to recharge the batteries, though. Official figures state that these cars manage 235mpg and emit only 27g/km of CO2.

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
You wouldn’t expect a large executive car equipped with a 213bhp turbocharged 5-cylinder engine to manage 148.7mpg and 49g/km, would you? This Volvo, however, does. Thanks to its clever plug-in hybrid technology, it can run on electric power only, just diesel or a combination of the two. It can only travel for short distances in ‘Pure’ electric mode but this makes it perfect for traffic jams and, when it clears, the two combine to make a compelling case for the car.

Toyota Prius Plug-In
The Prius is what most people think of when they picture a ‘green’ car but the Plug-in takes the concept several rungs up the eco-friendly ladder. It uses similar technology to the Volvo but has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to assist the electric motors. It can only travel up to 15.5 miles on pure electric power but it can still manage 134mpg and only emits 49g/km of CO2, which are impressive numbers.

Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 ECO
The first ‘conventionally’ powered car on this list  it makes do with a 1.5-litre diesel four-cylinder, but the results are still impressive. The greenest Clio can return up to 88.3mpg and only emits 83g/km of CO2. Maybe internal combustion isn’t dead, after all?

Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue
Hyundai’s renaissance continues with the very good i20 supermini. This 1.1-litred diesel version may not be the quickest car in the world but it is impressively efficient. It’s rated at 88.3mpg and emits just 84g/km of CO2. It’s not particularly exciting as a car but it’s a worthy contender.

Kia Rio 1.1 Ecodynamics
Almost identical underneath to its Hyundai sibling – the i20 above – but for some reason, be it aerodynamics or something else – the Rio emits one more g/km of CO2 (85) than the Hyundai. That’s no bad thing, however, as they are both fine cars. They’re both attractive and both VED-exempt, so the only thing to differentiate between them is the styling.

Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDi 70 EGC
The Peugeot 208 is selling in droves at the moment and for good reason – it looks good and the 1.4-litre diesel is supremely economical. It returns 83.1 mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 87g/km. It won’t be fast, or particularly fun to drive but for the budget-conscious, there’s not a lot to beat it.

Citroen C3 1.4e-HDi 70 Airdream
Much like the Hyundai/Kia siblings on this list, the Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDI 70 Airdream and the Peugeot 208 listed above are pretty much the same car underneath and this is reflected in identical fuel economy and emissions figures. The C3 is handsome, comfortable and has a nicely appointed interior. With this engine, it’s hugely fuel-efficient, too.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid
The Yaris Hybrid is probably the electrified Toyota that makes the most sense, other than the (expensive) plug-in Prius. It’s supremely economical – returning 80.7mpg. It’s clean as well, emitting a measly 79g/km of CO2. It’s in town, however, where it really excels, managing 91.1mpg in an urban environment. It’s this that makes the Yaris the most sensible, non-plug-in Toyota Hybrid as it’s the car which is most likely to spend most of its time in town, meaning that it can make full use of its electric-only mode.

By James Richardson