The most fuel efficient cars sold in South Africa

There are many fuel efficient cars you could drive today. Take the Nissan Leaf for example. It is the way of the future. A fully electric vehicle that you can charge at home, along with your iPhone. But at close to R500,000 for a small 4-seater car, and the range limit of 180 km's on a full charge, it's a deal breaker for many people. 

So to provide a more realistic selection, we updated the post with fuel efficient models, from the current best-selling cars in South Africa. We feel this will give you a better idea of a practical vehicle, that can still save you money at the pumps.

The list below is based on NAAMSA sales figures of May 2016

And further down we've put together a really interesting infographic of "7 Cars You Can Drive From Joburg to Cape Town for Under R1,000" Click here to skip directly to it.



L / 100 kms

Units Sold 


Hilux 2.4 GD6 SRX




Polo Vivo 1.4 Blueline




Polo 1.0 TSI Bluemotion




Fortuner 2.4 GD6




Ford Ecosport 1.0 Eco




Auris Hybrid




Corolla 1.4D




Etios 1.5




Renault Sandero Expression




Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost



One of the questions that most car buyers over the age of 40 ask themselves prior to making a decision to buy – and something more young people should too – is how fuel efficient a car is.

In the current volatile South African economy , the unpredictable fuel price has placed greater importance on the ability of new cars to convert energy from fuel. But exactly how fuel efficient are South Africa’s top-selling passenger cars at the moment?

The Etios ticks all the right boxes. It's a cost effective way of getting into a fuel efficient car

The Etios ticks all the right boxes. It’s a cost-effective way of getting into a fuel efficient car

In order to present the most fuel efficient top-selling cars in South Africa, Drive South Africa has selected the vehicle models with the lowest fuel consumption in its category, based on litres per 100 km. Measuring fuel efficiency, each vehicle’s fuel consumption and fuel cost have been calculated over 100 km.

Edit - 01/10/2018

Yikes – at the current 2018 rate of fuel hikes, we may soon see the R20 per litre ceiling breached! Let’s hope for everyone, the situation improves. 

What we have done – is created an updated list of fuel-efficient models available in South Africa for 2018. Check the new blog post right here!

And a great in-depth look into the frugal new Toyota Prius here!


Rank Vehicle Engine Size Fuel Consumption(Combined) Fuel Type Inland Fuel Cost Per 100 km* Coastal Fuel Cost Per 100 km*
1 Volkswagen Polo TSI Trendline 1.2 4.9 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R63.16 R61.05
2 Toyota Auris XR HSD 1.8 3.9 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R50.27 R48.59
3 Volkswagen Polo Vivo Blueline 1.4 5.4 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R69.61 R67.28
4 Toyota Etios Hatch 1.5 6 ℓ / 100 km  95 Unleaded R77.34 R74.76
5 Ford Fiesta TDCi Trend/Ambiente 1.6 3.6 ℓ /100 km Diesel R40.46 R39.28
6 Ford EcoSport TDCi Trend/Titanium 1.5 4.6 ℓ / 100 km Diesel R51.70 R50.19
7 Ford Figo TDCi Ambiente 1.4 5.1 ℓ / 100 km Diesel R57.32 R55.64
8 BMW 3 Series 320d 2.0 4.4 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R54.82 R54.82
9 Volkswagen Golf 7 Comfortline 2.0 4.6 ℓ /100 km Diesel R51.93 R50.42
10 Datsun GO 1.2 5.3 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R68.32 R66.04
11 Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1.5 3.6 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R45.86 R44.14
12 Toyota Aygo 1.0 4.4 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R56.05 R53.94
13 Toyota Corolla 1.4D 1.4 Turbo Diesel 4.5 ℓ / 100 km Diesel R47.39 R45.59
14 Toyota Prius 2016 1.8 3.7 ℓ / 100 km 95 Unleaded R47.14 R45.36
* Fuel prices calculated using the Drive South Africa fuel cost calculator

From the above it is evident that Toyota is still a leader in manufacturing the most fuel efficient cars in South Africa.

The Toyota Auris gets you across a distance of 100km for under R50 on 95 Unleaded on a “1.8 motor”. That is nothing short of spectacular when it comes to being fuel efficient because smaller motors are normally disregarded or completely dismissed after their ability to climb hills are assessed. But climbing hills is not all there is to it. Especially if you think about the drive from Durban to Johannesburg after you pass Van Reenens. Beyond that it’s all flat land and based on what Drive South Africa came up with your wallet will smile at you if you were to drive a Toyota Auris or an Etios hatch.

7 Cars That Will Take You From Jo'burg to Cape Town For Under R1,000!

Here’s a bonus updated for 2016. For the graphic below, we used the current inland petrol price of R13.26 and the inland diesel price of R11.29. Besides the Toyota Prius, we chose from the popular models being bought currently in South Africa, according to the NAAMSA sales figures. Click the image to enlarge


Speaking of fuel efficient, one of our marketing people had a chat with an Uber driver here in Durban last week about how fuel efficient certain cars are. For those that don’t know, Uber has a partner here in Durban that has quite a number of cars on the road. So drivers who work for that Uber partner get to drive different vehicles every day. They work 12-hour shifts and when they complete their shift, they hand over the car they drove to someone else who then starts a new 12-hour shift. This puts them in a unique position to do comparisons on things like power, road holding and of course fuel efficiency. This gentleman reckons that an Etios Hatch that works 24 hours around the clock has to be refuelled only once every week. Wow! If that is not fuel efficient, I don’t know what is.

With fuel efficiency playing a more and more important role in our buying and driving decisions, we’d like to introduce you to a tool that can help you calculate your monthly fuel spend

The South African Fuel Cost Calculator works out how much your vehicle costs in fuel to run per month. The previous month fuel spend comparison is a nifty added feature of the calculator, telling you how much more (or less) you’re spending on fuel for the month compared to last month. Give it a try. It can’t hurt to know whether you’re spending too much or where you can trim the fat.

Our data sources are as follows:

The above has been very educational; for us here at Durban South Toyota and we trust it was for you too.

Forward to a fuel efficient 2016

About the author

Arthur Charles Van Wyk

Durban South Toyota is a flagship Toyota Dealer in South Africa. From humble beginnings in Rockview Road, Amanzimtoti, we have steadily grown to where we are today. Visit us at 2 Prospecton Rd, to experience a difference, in Service Excellence. Arthur is a Web Sensai, Brand Evangelist, Speaker, Blogger, Columnist, New Media Navigator and Agent of Influence. I am the founder of Durban based hybrid marketing agency Fluence and the speak that lit Durban-based offline social network SCHMooZ.


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