Research by Warranty Direct has highlighted the used cars aged three years or older which offer the best combination of reliability and economy, as motorists continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of car ownership.

Manufacturers are continually developing new technology which delivers better fuel consumption and lower emissions, but some more complex machines are still prone to going wrong, forcing owners to foot expensive repair bills.

Warranty Direct analysed its 50,000 live policies, using the Company’s unique Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.com) to measure overall reliability by combining rate of failure, average mileage, age and repair cost.

Ranking cars based on fuel economy in this instance, Warranty Direct used its Reliability Index to name the top ten reliable makes and models of three years or more, as well as the optimal engine and trim combination for the best return at the pumps.

Top ten rated eco cars

(A higher Reliability Index rating means the vehicle is less reliable and more expensive to run)

Make and model Year Most economical derivative Combined MPG VED band Reliability Index Score* Largest claim*
Ford Fiesta (08 – ) 1.6 TDCi (95bhp) Edge ECOnetic II 85 A 24 1,698.85
Smart Fortwo (07 – ) CDI Pure 2d Auto 85 A 50 918.89
Skoda Fabia (07 – ) 1.2 TDI CR Greenline II 83 A 32 1,043.15
Peugeot 3008 (09 – ) 2.0 e-HDi Allure Hybrid4 74 A 29 801.20
SEAT Ibiza (06 – 09) 1.4 TDi Ecomotive 74 A 30 628.00
Volkswagen Polo (05 – ) 1.4 BlueMotion TDI (80ps) 74 A 50 2,615.23
Toyota Auris (07 – ) 1.8 VVTi Hybrid T Spirit 5d CVT Auto 70 A 39 1,509.56
Citroen C3 Picasso (09 – ) 1.6 Hdi 8v 90 VTR+ 68 B 40 732.00
Toyota Yaris (06 – ) 1.4 D-4D TR 67 B 32 1,646.49
Nissan Note (06 – ) 1.5 (90bhp) dCi Visia 67 B 34 2,019.70

The results revealed that the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic, with an impressive combined MPG figure of 85.6 had the best mix of fuel economy and reliability. The Smart Fortwo was able to match the Fiesta’s MPG figure and is unlikely to let its owners down, though it suffered marginally more mechanical faults than the Ford.

The SEAT Ibiza, Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia put in a strong showing for the Volkswagen Group with closely matched scores, though the Skoda nudged ahead of its stablemates owing to an MPG return of 83.1. However, the frugal SEAT is statistically more reliable.

David Gerrans, Managing Director at Warranty Direct commented: “the ‘eco’ derivatives of a used vehicle are often desirable, promising economical motoring for the cost-conscious buyer.

“However, savings on fuel and road tax can soon be countered with astronomical bills for mechanical or electrical failure. It is important to take these factors into account when selecting a car based on green credentials.”

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a warranty quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.