RAC Cars News


10 of the best petrol engine family cars

By raccars Published

Petrol power: the punchy petrol-engined family cars that offer diesel-challenging economy and CO2.

Although more and more people are buying diesel-engined family cars, petrol engines still have many fans – particularly as today’s new-era engines are the best there’s ever been.

You don’t need to buy diesel in order to get great economy and performance, as this selection of 10 cars proves. We’ve even pre-selected our pick of the model line-up, should you wish to search for a new or used one on RAC Cars.


Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost

Our ideal spec: 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec 5dr: £19,095

Why it’s so great: Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is so small, you can sit it on a sheet of A4 paper.

This doesn’t mean it’s lethargic though, as the turbocharger delivers lots of pulling power – yet with economy of more than 60mpg on the official cycle too.

Vital stats: 60.1mpg, 108g/km CO2, 11.0secs 0-62mph

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI

Our ideal spec: Golf 1.4 TSI 125 Match: £20,955

Why it’s so great: Volkswagen Golf diesels sell best, but the TSI petrol engines are gaining pace in showrooms these days. The 1.4-litre 125hp engine is a well rounded choice with swift performance and 120g/km CO2 emissions.

Vital stats: 54.3mpg, 120g/km CO2, 9.0secs 0-62mph

Peugeot 308 1.2 e-THP

Our ideal spec: 308 1.2 e-THP 130 Allure: £19,895

Why it’s so great: Peugeot’s new 1.2-litre e-THP petrol engine is a real powerhouse. You can have it in 130hp guise where it offers strong performance yet will still average nearly 59mpg.

Vital stats: 58.9mpg, 110g/km CO2, 10.3secs 0-62mph

Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DiG-T

Our ideal spec: Qashqai 1.2 DiG-T n-tec: £22,100

Why it’s so great: The smooth, muscular 1.2 DiG-T petrol engine offered in the Nissan Qashqai is a real surprise – you’ll not believe it’s only 1.2 litres when you drive it, so effective is it on the road.

Vital stats: 48.7mpg, 133g/km CO2, 10.9secs 0-62mph

Vauxhall Astra

Our ideal spec: Astra 1.0T 105 SRi Nav: £19,295

Why it’s so great: Vauxhall has just launched an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine in the new Astra, and it’s a gem. Performance is strong and fuel economy is exceptional – it officially returns over 64mpg and emits a tiny 102g/km CO2.

Vital stats: 64.2mpg, 102g/km CO2, 10.5secs 0-62mph

SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI

Our ideal spec: Leon 1.4 EcoTSI 150 FR: £20,525

Why it’s so great: The SEAT Leon is the sporty alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. It too has a 1.4-litre TSI engine – and here, our preference is for the 150hp EcoTSI unit. It’s very rapid yet, thanks to cylinder deactivation technology, also averages over 60mpg.

Vital stats: 60.1mpg, 110g/km CO2, 8.0secs 0-62mph

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech

Our ideal spec: C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech 110 Feel: £15,890

Why it’s so great: The great-value C4 Cactus is at its most appealing when fitted with the high-tech 1.2 PureTech turbo engine. Acceleration is very good yet it will also officially return over 60mpg.

Vital stats: 60.1mpg, 107g/km CO2, 9.3secs 0-62mph

Honda Civic 1.4 i-VTEC

Our ideal spec: Civic 1.4 i-VTEC SE Plus Navi: £18,575

Why it’s so great: Honda’s VTEC engines are famous the world over. In the Civic, it offers a 1.4-litre version that’s quiet and silky-smooth. If you can restrain yourself from revving it in a sporty way, you’ll average over 50mpg.

Vital stats: 51.4mpg, 131g/km CO2, 13.5secs 0-62mph

Toyota Auris Hybrid

Our ideal spec: Auris Hybrid Business Edition: £21,895

Why it’s so great: Toyota pioneered petrol-electric hybrid technology and is now so advanced, it can offer it for the same price as conventional petrol-engine rivals. Average economy of over 78mpg and CO2 emissions of just 82g/km are unmatched here, showing Toyota’s superiority.

Vital stats: 78.5mpg, 82g/km CO2, 10.9secs 0-62mph

Audi A3 1.2 TFSI

Our ideal spec: 1.2 TFSI 105 SE Sportback: £19,485

Why it’s so great: The cheapest Audi A3 comes with a 1.2-litre TFSI turbo engine – and it’s a bargain. It’s quick enough, extremely economical yet also has plentiful pulling power to not feel cut-price. In five-door Sportback guise, it’s a sub-£20,000 bargain.

Vital stats: 56.5mpg, 117g/km CO2, 10.1secs 0-62mph

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