March is one of two times in a year when UK number plates change – and it’s by far the most popular month for new car sales. However, registrations of diesel vehicles plummeted by 30% in 2018 as a result of environmental concerns and tax changes, so now there’s a renewed emphasis on petrol cars.
They may not be as economical as diesels on longer runs, but the gap is closing, so if you’re looking to buy a new 19-plate petrol-powered car from March 1, we’ve come up with a selection of 25 of the most frugal and affordable.
Most are small city cars and superminis, but we’ve also added a couple of family-sized hatchbacks to demonstrate that larger cars with punchy little three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo units are surprisingly good.
All figures quoted are from manufacturers’ own websites and use the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) which is meant to give motorists a more realistic idea of fuel economy.
The seventh generation Fiesta is better than ever. The UK’s biggest selling car for the past nine years is now more stylish and boasts the latest tech and connectivity. Go for the willing 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo engine which delivers 97bhp via a 6-speed manual gearbox, has fuel economy of 50.4mpg and 106g/km CO2 emissions. Priced from £16,065.
The Kia Picanto is a competitively-priced, sassy, well-equipped, refined and nippy city car, backed up by a generous seven-year warranty. Priced from £9,720, the Picanto is capable of up to 50.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 114g/km.
Renault’s quirky alternative supermini is a breath of fresh air – not only is it cute and modern, but the engine is at the back and it’s rear-wheel drive. The Twingo is capable of up to 48.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 110g/km. The range starts at £10,750.
Good-looking, practical, comfortable to drive and value for money, the Astra is a proper family hatchback and it also happens to be a patriotic choice because it’s built at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. It’s especially frugal if you opt for the 1.0-litre petrol turbo (105PS) which can return up to 47.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 107g/km. The Astra range starts at £18,900
With a surprisingly spacious interior and a willing 1.0-litre turbo engine, the stylish i20 is another great 19-plate supermini choice. Fuel economy is up to 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km, and when you factor in the five-year warranty, it’s definitely worth considering. Priced from £12,095.
Developed alongside the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1, this is arguably the best of the trio. Classy, quirky and refined, it even better with its full- length fabric sunroof pulled back. Priced from £9,504, it can manage up to 57.3mpg, while CO2 emissions from its 68bhp three-cylinder engine are a low 93g/km.
Developed alongside the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, the VW version is just as entertaining to drive, but is the classiest of the trio. Priced from just £9,825, fuel economy is up to 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions are a low 95g/km.
Similar to its cousins, the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108, the Citroen C1 is a fun package blessed with a punchy little three-cylinder engine that can return up to 57.3 with CO2 emissions below 100g/km. Priced from £9,635, it’s a cheeky little bargain.
Fun to drive, great value for money, cheap to insure and cute, Hyundai’s i10 city car also comes with a generous five-year warranty. Priced from £9,195, it’s powered by a 65bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine capable of 50.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 117g/km.
Spacious, well built and a decent drive, the Fabia supermini is another winning package from Skoda stable. Priced from £12,255, it’s capable of 51.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 106g/km.
Spacious, distinctive, reliable and great value, the Yaris is a sensible 19-reg supermini choice. Priced from £13,515, the 1.0 VVT-i Active is good for 48.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 104g/km.
Good looking, competitively priced and practical, the little Ford Ka+ is a hidden gem. Go for the 1.2 Ti-VCT (70PS) which returns up to 48.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 117g/km. The range is priced from £11,295.
The sixth generation of Volkswagen’s popular supermini is a class act. Equipped with the latest driver assistance systems, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and boasting great build quality, it’s a fun and a surprisingly refined driving experience. Its eager little 1.0-litre turbo engine can return up to 48.7mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 108g/km. The VW Polo range starts at £14,330.
Not only does the Citroen C3 look distinctive and funky, it drives well too and boasts a particularly comfortable ride. Go for the eager PureTech 82 (1.2 petrol engine) and it can return up to 51.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 110g/km. The Citroen C3 range starts at £12,145.
Almost identical to its Volkswagen Group cousins, the SEAT Mii and VW Up!, the Skoda Citigo is well packaged, fun to drive and one of the cheapest cars to insure. Starting at just £8,885, it can manage up to 54.3mpg from its perky 59bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine with CO2 emissions below 100g/km.
The latest version of Suzuki’s popular supermini offers great value for money, space and cheap running costs. The 1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T can manage up to 51.4mpg, while CO2 emissions are 111g/km. The Swift range is priced from £12,499.
Seat’s new Ibiza is a cracking car. Stylish, safe, spacious, refined, well equipped and entertaining to drive, it’s priced from £15,495 and is one of the best superminis on the market. Its little 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine can return up to 53.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 105g/km.
One of two family-sized hatchbacks in our selection, the Honda Civic is a class act. Boasting distinctive, radical styling and plenty of tech, it’s rewarding to drive, spacious, safe – and built in Britain. Its thrummy three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo petrol is good for 49.6mpg, CO2 emissions are 110g/km and it’s priced from £19,100.
Stylish and distinctive, the Mazda2 is something of a left-field supermini option. Well built with a sportier feel, its 74bhp petrol engine (75PS SKYACTIV-G) returns 49.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 111g/km. The range is priced from £13,595.
The latest Nissan Micra supermini is something of a revelation compared to the dumpy previous generation car. Not only does it look great, but there are a multitude of colour combinations available. Go for the all-new three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol turbo (IG-T 100) engine which delivers 97bhp and replaces the previous 0.9-litre unit. Fuel economy is 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 103g/km.
Along with its VW Group cousins, the Skoda Citigo and VW up!, the Mii drives really well and is a great all-round package. Priced from £11,900, it’s capable of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions are just 96g/km.
The third of the Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo triplets has the most striking styling, is well built and is just as much fun to drive. It’s also great value and very cheap to insure. Priced from £9,695, it’s capable of 56.4mpg with CO2 emissions of just 93/g/km.
It may be a relatively rare sight on our roads, but the baby of the Mitsubishi family is certainly frugal and affordable. Capable of 55.4mpg (CO2 emissions 107g/km), it’s priced from £11,295.
Stylishly aerodynamic, well-equipped and practical, the evergreen Peugeot 208 is a great supermini choice. Priced from £14,654, its three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine delivers 81bhp and can return 51.15mpg, while CO2 emissions are 108g/km.
The Celerio may look weeny, but there’s space for four people and it can keep up with other city cars. It also happens to be excellent value at just £8,999. At 58.8mpg, the Suzuki Celerio is the most economical petrol car we could find. CO2 emissions from its 67bhp three-cylinder engine are 108g/km.