RAC Cars News


The Best Used BMWs That Do More Than 50mpg

By raccars Published

BMW cars are known as the ultimate driving machines. Few would disagree with this neat strapline, either: they really are superb cars to drive. Given this, though, few would expect them to also be the ultimate green machines.

Yet that’s just what many BMW cars have been, for several years now. Since the launch of EfficientDynamics technology, BMW models across the board have frequently topped their respective sectors in terms of fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions.

This means there is today a remarkable selection of BMWs that all return more than 50mpg – whether you’re looking for a family hatchback, a luxury exec, an SUV or even a GT express.

Read on to discover the best used BMWs that do more than 50mpg – and follow the links to track down RAC Cars’ pick of secondhand examples.

2005 BMW 318d: 50.4mpg

The previous generation BMW 3 Series was all-new in 2005 and remains a very desirable buy today – particularly as prices have now dropped to very affordable levels. The 318d was an early ‘super-economical’ BMW and, with prices today starting from less than £7000, gives a compelling blend of high fuel economy for relatively low investment. It’s a fantastic drive, too…

Wise buyer tips

You can choose from ES, SE or M Sport trim lines even on the 318d. SE models will be most popular and thus easiest to find on the used market. The original 122hp engine received a power boost to 143bhp in autumn 2007: this was when economy jumped up too, but these cars cost around £1000 more for a similar-age vehicle as a result.

2007 BMW 118d hatch: 62.8mpg

BMW introduced a new range of ‘EfficientDynamics’ engine in early 2007: the first ones to benefit from these new engines was the BMW 1 Series range. With features such as stop-start and low rolling resistance tyres, economy leapt up with the 118d officially averaging an incredible 62.8mpg.

Wise buyer tips

Cars with 17-inch alloy wheels are more desirable and thus worth more. There’s little difference in price between three-door and five-door models, though. The super-economical 62.8mpg cars were introduced in March 2007.

2007 BMW 120d Coupe: 60.1mpg

It wasn’t just the hatchback range that received the new EfficientDynamics engines, either: later on in 2007, the BMW 1 Series Coupe got its own 60mpg version. Despite this, with 177hp driving the rear wheels, the 120d was no slouch either.

Wise buyer tips

Coupe models are offered in ES, SE, Sport and M Sport trims – it’s M Sport that’s the most visually desirable. M Sport versions thus cost significantly more than the base ES: for a 2010 model, the difference is more than £3000.

2007 BMW 318d Touring: 58.9mpg

The BMW 3 Series received the EfficientDynamics engine range in 2007 too – immediately cutting over 25g/km from the CO2 emissions figure. By then, the Touring load-lugger model was on sale, meaning BMW could now offer a 59mpg 3 Series with a boot big and practical enough for a family of five.

Wise buyer tips

Touring models went on sale in 2006, meaning it is only 2006 and early 2007 models that have the less efficient 155g/km CO2 diesel motor. These cars cost around £800 less than a comparable EfficientDynamics version – you can tell the difference by the addition of engine stop-start on the latter.

2009 BMW X1 sDrive18d: 54.3mpg

The thought of a BMW SUV that returned over 50mpg seemed fanciful to some but, by 2009, BMW had worked out how to do it. The new X1 compact SUV boasted the same super-green diesel engine as other models which, in rear-wheel drive sDrive guise, could top a remarkable 54mpg.

Wise buyer tips

All X1s sold between 2009 and 2012 came in SE guise. The optional leather pack is worth more, as is the Design pack that was also an option when new. Make sure the car has metallic paint as (rare) models without it are worth less.

2010 BMW 320d EfficientDynamics: 68.9mpg

BMW again pushed premium car fuel efficiency on to another level in 2010 when it introduced the 320d EfficientDynamics. A special eco version of the 320d, it looked hardly any different and felt just as sporty and rapid to drive. Despite this, it could average an incredible 68.9mpg: a new standard had been set.

Wise buyer tips

Spot 320d EfficientDynamics models from their aero-tuned alloys and lowered suspension: they are only offered in a single SE-equivalent trim grade (so no M Sport variants here). The V5 paperwork will also show the super-low 109g/km CO2 rating.

2010 BMW 520d: 58.9mpg

The latest version of the BMW 5 Series was offered in 520d guise from the start: thank to EfficientDynamics technology, the large premium executive car could average nearly 59mpg and emit as little as 125g/km CO2. It was a superb achievement.

Wise buyer tips

SE and M Sport trim lines are available: the M Sport is a little less fuel efficient than the SE, due to its bigger alloy wheels, but the in-practice difference shouldn’t be huge. Look for cars fitted with 18-inch alloys; pay extra for 19-inch alloys.

2011 BMW 640d: 51.3mpg

The sleek BMW 6 Series is a luxury coupe GT car that cuts a dash alongside Mercedes, Porsches, even Aston Martins. Even more striking is the fact it is greener than the lot of them – and many a supermini too. 51.3mpg is remarkable, especially since this uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel putting out an exceptional 313hp!

Wise buyer tips

Offered in either SE or M Sport trim, the current-shape 6 Series is extremely well equipped even as standard. Look for cars with the high-end Professional sat nav, and 19-inch alloys are desirable too.

2012 BMW 730d: 50.4mpg

BMW also offers six-cylinder diesel engine refinement in the 7 Series luxury car. This comes with world-class technology to cosset occupants, yet also drives with the sporty agility of a 3 Series. Hard to believe it can also do 50mpg, really…

Wise buyer tips

SE models were sold from the 2008 launch of this 7 Series generation, with the sportier M Sport arriving in September 2009. It’s also offered in long-wheelbase guise, for even more rear seat space and luxury. Pay extra if you find a car with 20-inch alloys – they’re worth it.

2012 BMW x3 sDrive18d: 55.4mpg

BMW’s latest super-eco star car is the 55mpg X3 sDrive18d. Carrying on the SUV trend from the smaller X1, this is an even larger and more practical luxury machine that offers small car fuel economy despite its performance and status.

Wise buyer tips

This is a nearly new machine so used ones will be thin on the ground, but a BMW dealer will search one out for you if economy is all. If it’s not, the almost-as-economical xDrive18d will give you all-wheel drive traction and ability in wintry weather.

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