Top fuel efficient cars

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Based on the Green Vehicle Guide's findings, here's an overview of the most fuel-efficient diesel, petrol, electric and hybrid vehicles currently available in Australia.

 The pure electric LEAF seats five people and can drive 170km on a full charge. Image source: Own work uploaded by User: Comyu.

The Australian Government's Green Vehicle Guide includes a broad range of data about vehicles available on Australian roads. It includes information on vehicle type, carbon emission and fuel consumption. The data is used to produce an overall vehicle rating out of 20, as well as a Green Vehicle Guide star rating: these give a guide to the green credentials of a vehicle.

The table displayed lists the top 20 vehicles ordered by combined fuel consumption, which covers both urban and extra urban driving. The table includes information on the fuel type used by the vehicle, the engine type, and whether the vehicle is 2WD or 4WD. The order is designed to show the most fuel efficient vehicles based on standardised comparative fuel consumption tests, and columns have also been included showing the Green Vehicle Guide star rating, overall rating, air pollution rating and greenhouse rating.

Green Vehicles Guide: Top 20 Vehicles by Fuel Consumption

Fuel consumption (L/100km) Vehicle Fuel Type Engine 2WD or 4WD Green Vehicle Guide Star Rating Overall Rating Air Pollu-tion Rating Green-house Rating
0.0 Mitsubishi i car i-MiEV (2012) (Range: 150km) Pure Electric (Energy consumption: 135Wh/km) Electric 2WD 5 20 10 10
0.0 Nissan Leaf (2012) (Range: 175km) Pure Electric (Energy consumption: 173Wh/km) Electric 2WD 5 20 10 10
0.0 Nissan Leaf (2013) (Range: 195km) Pure Electric (Energy consumption: 150Wh/km) Electric 2WD 5 20 10 10
1.2 Holden Volt (2012) (Range: 87km) Plug-in Electric/Petrol 95RON (Energy consumption: 135Wh/km) 4cyl 2WD 5 18.5 8.5 10
3.1 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (2013) (Range: 36km) Plug-in Electric/Petrol 98RON (Energy consumption: 162Wh/km) 6cyl 2WD 5 17 7.5 9.5
3.8 Audi 66kW A1 1.6TDI Attraction (2011) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4.5 15 6 9
3.8 Audi 66kW A1 Sportback 1.6TDI Attraction (2012) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4.5 15 6 9
3.8 MINI R56 Cooper D Hardtop (2010) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4.5 15 6 9
3.9 Toyota Prius Hybrid (2009) Electric/Petrol 95RON 4cyl 2WD 5 17.5 8.5 9
3.9 Toyota Prius C Hybrid (2012) Electric/Petrol 95RON 4cyl 2WD 5 17.5 8.5 9
3.9 Fiat Cabrio D/L 500 0.9 Turbo Twin Air Auto (2012) Petrol 95RON 2cyl 2WD 5 16.5 7.5 9
3.9 Fiat Hardtop D/L 500 0.9 Turbo Twin Air Auto (2012) Petrol 95RON 2cyl 2WD 5 16.5 7.5 9
3.9 Citroen C4 Exclusive 82kW e-HDi EGS (2013) Diesel 4cyl 4WD 4 14.5 6 8.5
3.9 Citroen C4 Seduction 82kW e-HDi EGS (2013) Diesel 4cyl 4WD 4 14.5 6 8.5
3.9 Audi A3 Sportback 1.6TDI S-Tronic (2013) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4 14.5 6 8.5
3.9 MINI R55 Cooper D Clubman (2010) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4 14.5 6 8.5
4.0 Fiat Cabrio 500 0.9 Turbo Twin Air Manual (2012) Petrol 95RON 2cyl 2WD 5 16.5 7.5 9
4.0 Fiat Hardtop 500 0.9 Turbo Twin Air Manual (2012) Petrol 95RON 2cyl 2WD 5 16.5 7.5 9
4.0 Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDI (2013) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4 14.5 6 8.5
4.0 Honda Civic DTiS (2013) Diesel 4cyl 2WD 4 14.5 6 8.5

The table ranks vehicles for least consumption of petrol or diesel fuel. However, the increasing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the market makes it worth including them in this list. It should be noted that while electric and hybrid vehicles do not use fuel in terms of litres of petrol or diesel, they do consume stored electrical energy.

In the US, the Department of Energy provides for electric and hybrid vehicles a miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe). The MPGe "represents the number of miles the vehicle can go using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline." This allows a comparison of vehicles that use liquid fuels with those that do not. Fuel Economy and Environment labels on vehicles in the US display this figure, along with kilowatt hours (kwh) per 100 miles, driving range, charge time as well as an annual fuel cost which is calculated for electric and hybrids based on a set price per Kwh.

The Green Vehicle Guide does not include similar comparative information, although it does provide Energy Consumption in Watt hours per km (Whkm) and carbon emission data. The electric energy consumption by electric and hybrid vehicles has been included in the table under the engine type column. For hybrid vehicles there is a fuel consumption figure and also an energy consumption figure.

CO2 emission

The Green Vehicle Guide can also be used for information on carbon emission at both the tailpipe and from the production of fuel used . For purely electric vehicles, the guide reports carbon emissions at the tailpipe as zero and petrol fuel consumption, not surprisingly, as zero. The amount of CO2 emitted from recharging an electric vehicle will vary based on the source of the electricity.

The Green Vehicle Guide's advanced search provides a way to create a CO2 emission figure for energy production based on the state in which the electric vehicle is recharged. This takes into account the overall makeup of each states electricity production. Depending on the state, the C02 emissions are dramatically different. For example, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV pure electric vehicle's fuel production CO2 emissions are 47g/km in Tasmania, a state where 64.3 per cent of power is generated by hydroelectric plants and 3.9 per cent by wind generators. The same vehicle has a fuel production CO2 emission of 185g/km in Victoria - nearly four times the CO2 of production in Tasmania.

The leading petrol vehicle on the list, the Fiat Cabrio D/L 500 0.9 Turbo Twin Air Auto (2012), creates 90g/km at the tailpipe and 7g/km for petrol production, totalling 97g/km of CO2. The leading diesel on the list, the Audi 66kW A1 1.6TDI Attraction, creates 99g/km at the tailpipe and 8g/km for diesel production, totalling 107g/km of CO2.

Driving a Mitsubishi i-MiEV in Tasmania generates nearly half the CO2 of the most fuel efficient petrol and diesel vehicles. But, driving one in Victoria will create 90% more CO2 than the Fiat Cabrio. Of course, if you are recharging your vehicle using a GreenPower Accredited Renewable Energy Provider or with a home alternative energy generation system, your electric vehicle will be CO2 emission free during operation.

If you're in the market for a new car, or a recent model used car, the Green Vehicle Guide can help you with your purchase decision. With information on fuel consumption and carbon emission it can deliver hard facts on how much fuel a vehicle will use, as well as the impact on the environment from both tailpipe and fuel production emissions.

iGreen Vehicle Guide, Estimating Non-road CO2 Emissions, Australian Government, viewed 27 November 2013,