Currently reading: What's the best 50mpg car?
Alfa Mito Multiair v BMW 320D ED v Honda CR-Z v Merc E200 BE v VW Golf GTD

The Alfa Mito 1.4 Multiair, BMW 320D Efficient Dynamics, Honda CR-Z, Mercedes E200 CDI Blue Efficiency SE and Volkswagen Golf GTD may seem an odd group of cars.

But they all have some key features in common: 0-60mph in under 10 seconds and average fuel consumption above 50mpg.

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What makes this fascinating is that the cars' makers have gone about achieving these results in different ways.

The Honda CR-Z is the first sporting hybrid. It's propelled by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that functions in tandem with an electric motor, the two combining to produce 122bhp. Co2 emissions are 117g/km.

BMW's 320d Efficient Dynamics is less technically adventurous, bigger and heavier. Yet the 161bhp diesel scores 109g/km, out-accelerates the Honda and can carry five.

The Mercedes E-class Blue Efficiency produces its 134bhp at a low 2800rpm, and manages 137g/km.

The Golf GTD is perhaps the least radical car here, although its 168bhp 2.0-litre common-rail diesel is one of the best in the business. It hits 139g/km in manual form, but 147g in this DSG version.

Alfa's Mito is also a relatively conventional hot hatch, and has the innovative Multiair engine. Just 1368cc, it produces 133bhp and emits 129g/km of Co2.

In the cars

You sit low in the Honda, and it's spacious up front. But there are restricted views over the shoulder and behind, and the rear seats are useful for luggage only in reality.

The engine's eagerness, the short-throw shift, the sporty driving position and a firm ride all encourage spirited driving, as does the limited roll, plentiful grip and steering that's quicker than the Insight's. The chassis, though, is still disappointingly inert.

On a B-road it is mildly entertaining, even if its performance rarely rises above brisk. The real fun is to be had from its instrumentation, and the miserly games they allow.

The BMW also allows numbers games - albeit via an old-school, needle-swinging econometer. But the real fun comes from the surprisingly strong performance - determined acceleration comes from 280lb ft of torque that overcomes the tall gearing.

The BMW needs pushing hard to bring it alive, but it achieves its pace with civility, the well insulated cabin giving a premium aura that neither the Mito or Honda achieve.

The Golf GTD is also civilised, and fun. Press the Sport button and it's quick (0-62mph in 81.sec) and handles B-roads with aplomb.

The Alfa is the cheapest car here, and it's better for having the Multiair engine, which is refined and fun. But that sophistication is undermined by a crashingly turbulent ride, somewhat crude handling and weirdly springy, if quick, steering.

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Throw in a mushy gearchange, a not-really-premium dash and hard-to-read instruments and you have the least polished vehicle here, by some margin. The Cloverleaf remains the Mito to have.

The Mercedes is as surprising as the name is long. The powertrain delivers the kind of zest you'd expect from an engine 800cc larger. True, its 0-62mph time is the longest here, but on the road its low-revving, steam-train torque and smooth delivery are beguiling.

This dynamism blends with the usual subtle Benz attributes of no-nonsense comfort, space, practicality and aura of robustness.

Real world figures

Only one car failed to break 40mpg - and the Alfa's 38.7mpg is still pretty good considering.

Next came the Honda, at 43.1mpg, the Golf at 43.3mpg, the Merc at 46.7mpg and then the BMW, which topped 50mpg.


The 320d is the most rounded car here - but not the most entertaining.

That prize goes to the Merc, for its unlikely mix of economy, performance and deft handling, all in a big car. It appeals as much for the unlikliness of its performance as its competence.

It's closely followed by the Honda which, despite its flaws, remains a deeply appealing package for its style and verve.

The Golf is more of an all-rounder, but its appeal and practicality could be enhanced with efficiency measures like stop-start and driver aids.

That leaves the Alfa, which is strong for visual and emotional appeal, and for its innovative engine.

The full story is available in Autocar magazine, on sale now.

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MrTrilby 15 November 2011

Re: What's the best 50mpg car?

evanstim wrote:

If are being serious, then you are clearly no motoring enthusiast.

Anyone who buys a Prius is a person more influnced by trends and fashions than they are by the motivation to be a serious eco-warrior.

Is there a rule then that says enthusiasts can only be interested in old technology, and not forward looking developments? You sound pretty blinkered. A shame - you're missing out on some fascinating and signifcant changes to motoring.

LP in Brighton 14 November 2011

Re: What's the best 50mpg car?

None of the cars features in this test, that's for sure. The idea of paying £20,000 or more for a car which might achieve 50mpg with the wind behind just doesn't make sense. For even with today's fuel prices, it's depreciation that is the biggest cost for most people owning these cars

So I would respectfully suggest that the best 50 mpg car is something which costs less than £10,000 to buy. Maybe it's the new small Skoda or Kia Picanto?

evanstim 14 November 2011

Re: What's the best 50mpg car?

rtwingo wrote:

Toyota Prius.

Surely you are joking?

If are being serious, then you are clearly no motoring enthusiast.

A 118d (for example) is a far, far superior drive and does much less damage to the environment then a Prius, and achieves this with far less complexity (not to mention environmental damage through manufacture).

Anyone who buys a Prius is a person more influnced by trends and fashions than they are by the motivation to be a serious eco-warrior.