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Most economical medium-sized cars in Australia.

Not so long ago, I had lots of fun working out Aussie’s most economical cars, and now I thought I’d tackle the mid-sized car bracket. 

Generally, if you have a small family, a medium-sized new car will fit the bill best.  You don’t want something that struggles to cope with the kids and luggage, yet you probably don’t want to run to the expense of paying for the extra gas that bigger, thirstier cars always require.  The following mid-sized motorcars are available in Australia and are the more economical vehicles in their class – sometimes by a big margin.  Again, I have used info from the Wheels magazine.

Let’s kick off with an Italian model.  Alfa Romeo do have a vehicle that fits the bill.  The Alfa Romeo 159 JTD models not only look the business but these are a vehicle that offer a satisfying drive.  Underway, the Alfa Romeo 159 JTD remains very refined, and the six-speed automatic gearbox is very slick.   Expect a fuel consumption figure of around 6.5 litres/100 km.

Audi have always had an economical alternative.  Check out the Audi A4 2.0 TDI.  This is a superb motorcar that oozes class.  Beautifully designed interiors offer very comfortable motoring, and the cabin space is reasonably generous.  The blend of ride comfort and grip is one of the nicest in its class, and at around 6 litres/100 km, the Audi A4 2.0 TDI has to be tried out and appreciated.

One of my favourites, and another German set of wheels, is the excellent BMW 320d.  At the top of its game, the 320d offers a complete drive.  If you get a chance to drive one, you’ll appreciate the car’s numerous talents.  With 350 Nm of torque, an eight second dash to 100 km/h and a fuel efficiency average of 5.5 litres/100 km, the BMW 320d makes quite a convincing statement.

But I haven’t finished with BMW yet.  Arguably the best mid-sized machine you can buy (if you can run to the $76,400 price tag) is the BMW 520d.  We all know it will go like snot, but is it efficient?  The car does have the ability to turn it on in the fuel efficiency stakes, too.  The 5.6 litres/100 km average is proof of this.  Everything else about the car is pretty hot.

Finishing the BMW entries finds us considering an AWD machine.  If you like the thought of having a little adventure in your life, then you might find the BMW X3 xDrive20d is just the ‘bee’s knees’!  Returning an average of 6.7 litres/100 km, the BMW X3 xDrive20d opens up the wide open spaces.  Handling is right up to scratch, and I really like the elevated driving position for that added bit of safety.

To Citroen we go.  The French know how to make a comfortable traveller.  Cast your eye over a Citroen C5 and the style of the new exterior design is quite breathtaking.  Perhaps the best design in the mid-size car bracket.  Inside, the style continues with an array of funky gadgets.  This is a car that will eat up the miles effortlessly while its occupants remain incredibly comfortable hours later, and  is a credit to the French engineers.  All of the HDI versions are worth a look, with the Citroen C5 3.0 HDI being a very grunty performer, boasting a thumping 450 Nm of torque.  It can run the 0-100 km/h in under eight seconds, and is superbly safe and supremely comfortable.  Fuel efficiency ranges between 6.8 and 7.4 litre/100 km.  The Citroen C5 could justifiably be the best mid-sized vehicle in this line-up.  It’s very roomy, too.

Ford offers the Mondeo TDCI motorcar into this mix.  It’s a good car that offers a lot for the money you pay.  The 7.3 litres/100 km isn’t too bad, while the handling is superb for a front wheel drive machine.  The Ford Mondeo TDCI’s safety credentials are excellent.  You should enjoy this one.

If you are a sensible person with your head screwed on, then you will probably go for the Honda Civic Hybrid sedan which is sharp looking, tasteful on the inside and incredibly thrifty.  The 4.6 litres/100 km is superior for the mid-sized class.  If you want a peppier drive, then the Honda Civic VTi sedan is a top-notch buy and very competitively priced.  I include the Civic as a mid-sizer because the interior room and boot space is so good.  Sadly, like Holden, Honda don’t really have their proper mid-sized vehicles quite zeroing in on fuel efficiency.

Hyundai have a very decent package in their Hyundai Sonata SLX CRDi.  Need plenty of room and lots of gadgets?  Then the Hyundai Sonata is the car for you.  Running with a 2.0 turbo-diesel, the smart Sonata SLX CRDi offers plenty of power and excellent fuel economy.  With 6.0 litres/100 km for the five-speed manual or 7 litres/100 km for the four-speed automatic, the Hyundai Sonata SLX CRDi has what it takes, and definitely provides plenty of ‘bang for your buck’ satisfaction.

Isn’t it great to consider a Jaguar as being efficient?  Jaguar offers a vehicle that boasts impeccable road manners and distinctive styling.  The Jaguar 2.2D LE is enjoyable to live with, has a comfortable interior and handy space, and is very well equipped – as you would expect.  With 6.9 litres /100 km as an average fuel consumption figure, the Jaguar X-Type 2.2D LE is a highly recommended.  The car costs about the same as the Audi A4 2.0TDI and Alfa 159 JTD, and a whole lot less than a BMW 520d. 

Again, arguably the best in this economy bunch is the Jaguar XF 3.0D.  Its 6.8 litres/100 km average is awesome for such a performance car.  The V6 turbo diesel can turn on some heart-stopping performance.  The quickest of the thrifty bunch – by a long chalk!  Sexy, quick, roomy and extremely modern, the Jaguar XF 3.0D is a driving enthusiast’s car.  What you save at the pump might be gathered back with the $112,990 price tag, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

Kia offers the diesel-fed Sportage with a decent level of room.  The six-speed manual is brilliant.  And with a fuel efficiency figure of 7.1 litres/100 km from a 2700cc unit, you are most definitely onto a winner.  Being part time AWD, this sort of technology aids the big vehicle’s efficiency.

Also from Kia, the Sorento Si and SLi boast a superb 2.2 diesel engine that is capable of turning 422 Nm of torque.  This is the vehicle you need if you require a vehicle that ticks the towing box.  Big on torque and small on fuel usage, the 6.7 – 7.4 litres/100 km is outstanding.  Just think of the adventure you can enjoy with the family in the Sorento.  Room is great in the SUV, so too are the equipment and comfort levels.

Lexus is another premium brand which offers an interesting and economical model.  Buckets of interior room, plenty of luxury and extremely reliable, the Lexus GS 450h is incredibly efficient for such a big vehicle.  Not as big as an LS sedan, the GS sedan still is exquisitely comfortable to tour in.  I decided to add this big one into the mix because of the hybrid technology that Lexus has used.  Probably the roomiest and largest sedan in this line-up (though the Jaguar XF wouldn’t be far off it), the Lexus GS is a large car with the petrol/hybrid technology that can reign in fuel usage to an average of 7.9 litres/100 km.  Big price tag, but very nice.

The Mazda 6 Diesel wagon and hatch is impressive.  I hope you’ve read all my rambling thus far because the Mazda 6 Diesel, in my book, is the best car in this line-up for the small family.  Talented in all areas, whether it be performance, efficiency, comfort or safety, the Mazda 6 Diesel is superior.  It is also fun to drive.  With an average fuel consumption of just 6.0 litres/100 km for the wagon and 5.9 litres/100 km for the hatch, you need to check this one out!

Mercs are too expensive, right?  Actually, they are pricey, but if you look to buy into the C-Class, the C200 CGI is a whole lot cheaper than a BMW 520d.  Look to buy an E-Class Merc, and the E220 CDI is quite a lot dearer.  Are these mid-sized Mercs fuel efficient?  Surprisingly, yes they are.  Just how good?  Well, when I found that the 1.8 litre, petrol-fed C200 CGI sips, on average, 7.3 litres/100 km, I was pleasantly astounded.  If you can handle $58,000, you’ll be very happy with the nicely designed, well balanced C200 CGI.  This is one of the very few petrol cars in this list of economic mid-sized vehicles.  But there is another.  If you like the 1.8 litre engine, you can find it in the slightly larger E-Class line-up as well.  Fuel consumption is pretty much identical.  The C220 CDI does better with diesel, and manages 6.7 litres/100 km.  Now, take note of what the 500 Nm E250 CDI manages.  The 5.3 litres/100 km fuel consumption is quite sensational.  And the car is very quick, too – a 0-100 km/h sprint time of only 7.7 seconds means that you have yourself a true driver’s car.  You may like to consider the elegant E220 CDI which manages 6.1 litres/100 km, is not a whole lot slower and has all the class that only a Merc could have. 

It’s time to go back to Japan to see what they can do.  For starters, you are only going to need to fork out a fraction of the cost you would pay for buying a new Merc!  That’s good, and you’ll also be pleased to know that the Mitsubishi Lancer ES and VR provide very decent transport.  Hot styling, a nimble chassis and a comfortable interior make for good vibes.  Under the Lancer bonnet is a very efficient petrol-fed 2.0-litre motor that pumps out 113 kW and 198 Nm of torque.  With the five-speed gearbox, the Lancer ES and VR boast a fuel efficiency figure of around 7.6 litres/100 km. 

You have to go to the X-Trail corner of the Nissan show room before you can find a vehicle that can manage a fuel consumption figure of below 8 litres/100 km.  The Nissan X-Trail TS and TL both have a high-tech 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine under the hood.  Quite apart from the fact that they can push 360 Nm to the driving wheels and peak their power out at 127 kW, the diesel donks can provide an average economy figure of 7.4 litres/100 km.  These are nice vehicles which provide loads of practical room, nice seats and SUV safety.  You can also tackle off-roading duties along the way.

Now, back to the land of red wine, lingerie and long-haired rugby players.  You know when you purchase a Peugeot, the drive is going to be good.  They are very safe, economical cars.  The most economic mid-sized Pug is the wonderfully roomy and comfortable Peugeot 407 2.0-litre HDI models.  These diesels are awesome.  You can be stuck in traffic and they will happily sip the fuel.  They are equally good at providing swift and economical transport on the open road.  The manual versions provide a fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres/100 km, while the automatic versions offer a figure of around 6.7 litres/100 km.  Definitely worth a look, and these cars are competitively priced and sit at the top of the tree.

Another thing that frequently passes competitors in the Tour de France is the Renault Laguna.  With a 110 kW, 2.0-litre engine, the Laguna makes the best use of its diesel in the tank.  Their six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes are very good at keeping the engine in the right zone for efficient power, so with the Laguna, you can expect a fuel consumption figure of between 6.0 and 7.0 litres/100 km.  Well built, very safe and exceedingly comfortable, the roomy Laguna should prove to be nice, stylish transport.

The land that brought us smorgasbords, saunas and ABBA provides exquisitely comfortable interiors for the Saab 1.9 TiD models.  These are very good engines which are placed in both the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 models.  Very roomy, the 9-5 1.9 TiD has an excellent interior that is spacious.  Safety-wise, the 9-5 is as good as it gets in the mid-sized bracket, and is up there with the Laguna and the 407 models for five-star safety.  The 9-5 is bigger than the 9-3, and with the extra weight comes a slight increase in fuel consumption.  Fuel usage for the 9-5 1.9 TiD is around 7.5 litres – pretty good for a smooth five-speed auto and 1.6 tonnes.  Expect around 6.5 litres/100km for the 9-3 1.9 TiD models – the six-speed manual versions being more slightly more frugal than the six-speed automatics.

To be honest, Skoda surprised me.  The Skoda Octavia is a very well built, very well designed, underrated mid-sized automobile with good roadholding, accurate steering, and nicely laid out interiors that are comfortable.  Take your pick, really.  All models provide efficient transport and excellent value – except, maybe, the 1.6-litre, petrol versions with automatic gearboxes.  These can be a little thirsty.  All other versions will go under 8 litres/100 km for fuel efficiency – including the very quick RS models.  Some of the TDI versions will go under 6 litres/100 km.  A Skoda Octavia offers great value, and comes highly recommended. 

If you still require more room, then the Skoda Scout is a very capable, roomy alternative.  It is a beefed up diesel estate version of the Octavia, and has higher ground clearance and AWD.  You’ll be surprised just how far you can go off-road in one of these.  Fuel consumption for the Scout is a very commendable 6.6 litres/100 km. 

There is also the Skoda Superb.  If you want leg room, then the Skoda Superb has it.  It should be classed as a large car, but I’ll throw it in to the mix because I was so impressed with the 6.9 litres/100 km promised from the 2.0-litre TDI version.

SsangYong creates unique SUV designs, and the SsangYong Actyon 2.0 Xdi, and the Kyron 2.0 Xdi are both fitted out with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that impresses.  It has refined efficiency, and remains very smooth and quiet in its action.  Expect around 7.5 litres/100 km for the five-speed manual versions – not bad when you consider the weight the engine is pulling.  Comfortable, roomy cabins make for pleasant touring. 

Suzuki offer the Grand Vitara DDiS with a 1.9-litre turbo-diesel engine.  With a manual five-speed gearbox, you can whisk along the open road and around town knowing that the average fuel consumption figure is only going to be 7.6 litres/100 km.  With ample off-road ability, and with five doors and a lengthy wheelbase, the big Vitara is very easy to live with.  Inexpensive off-roading adventure is on the cards, too.

The world would not be the same without Toyota.  With legendary reliability, and build quality, the Corolla is a relatively roomy sedan or hatch that can master around 7.5 litres/100 km, on average, from out of the sparkling 1.8-litre, 100 kW, petrol-fed engine.  New Toyota Corollas are swift and well balanced machines on the road.  Camrys offer more room and more power for not much more.  You can buy a talented new Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan that boasts an average fuel consumption of just 6.0 litres/100 km.  There is another extremely frugal machine that sits on Toyota’s showroom floors.  Possibly the most economic mid-sizer here: the hybrid Toyota Prius III provides a sensationally low average fuel consumption figure of 3.9 litres/100 km – better than a number of motorbikes!

The Volkswagen Golf and Jetta (Golf hatch with a backside attached) are little beauties.  Timeless class, build quality and refinement make owning the Volkswagen Golf and Jetta a pleasure.  When the 77TDI versions provide a little under, or a little over, 5 litres/100 km efficiency, you know you are on to something very good.  Larger 2.0-litre diesel power plants are very torquey and refined, and still offer matchless efficiency.  If you prefer petrol power, then there is a gem on offer.  The 1.4-litre engine is superb.  With fuel efficiency of around 6.5 litres/100 km, an 8.5 second 0-100 km/h sprint time and great on-road dynamism, you’ll have plenty of smiles for your dial. 

How about a Volkswagen Passat?  Here you will have more interior room and more power.  The interior room is good and, as always, the trip is classy and effortless.  A 2.0 TDI engine provides 6.8 litres/100 km, and is linked to a sequential gearbox.  Superbly stylish, the Passat CC has the same engine.  One other engine worth mentioning in the very good Volkswagen Passat line-up is the cracking new 1.8 turbo.  With 118 kW of power, 250 Nm of torque and a seven-speed sequential gearbox, you can really cover the ground with great rapidity – while holding your average fuel consumption to well under 8 litres/100 km. 

Volkswagen provide an SUV alternative, as well.  The Tiguan, in 2.0 TDI form, provides very classy transport that remains efficiently, on average, under 8 litres/100 km.

Flicking over to the Volvo marque, and I find an engine that features in the S40, V50, S80, XC60, XC70 and XC90 versions.  I would class the S40 as a roomy small car.  So, with that in mind, the very economical Volvo S40 D5 is a rewarding drive that you may like to consider.  Fast, superbly surefooted, safe and luxurious, the S40 D5 returns a fuel consumption of 6.4 litres/100 km for the manual and 7.0 litres/100 km for the auto.  The V50 is the one for you if you require more room.  Essentially it is the estate version of the S40 sedan.  It’s just as good – if not better with the extra luggage space.  In no uncertain terms, the Volvo S80 is a big car.  But to give you an idea of how good the D5 2.4 litre engine actually is, you can still expect a fuel consumption figure of 7.3 litres/100 km with the weight and larger dimensions of the S80 design.  The Volvo S80 is extremely spacious and comfortable.

Although the purchase price of a new diesel car tends to be higher than that of its petrol counterpart, the extra initial value is justified.  Diesel-fed vehicles have been shown to be far more economical – sometimes twice as much than the petrol equivalent model.  Modern diesels also have superior performance capabilities.  When the car is fully laden with luggage and passengers, the torque of a diesel leaves the petrol counterpart wanting.