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No surprise: Fuel consumption is a key consideration for many Australian new car buyers, primarily because it tends to directly affect your weekly budget and spend.

And fair enough. If you think of a car which averages 10L/100km, driven 15,000km a year and filling up at $1.25 per litre, it will cost you about $1875 per year.

That’s about two-and-a-half times the annual registration fee, and potentially 10 times the yearly service cost of a small car like a Toyota Corolla.

So, what constitutes a fuel efficient car?

CarAdvice reader Tim asks:

“I’m looking at a new small car, specifically a Mazda 3, but I don’t know if its claimed fuel consumption of 5.7L/100km is good or bad when compared to other small cars. Can you help?”

2016 Mazda 3 Neo Hatch Auto-20

The basic answer here is that all new cars are required to state a city, country and combined fuel consumption claim. These figures come about through a standardised testing procedure, sometimes performed locally, sometimes overseas.

Now, we know as well as anyone, the consumption claim made by manufacturers is only the first piece of the puzzle. Driving style and conditions can vary dramatically between two different people, as can the use of fuels, loads, and even tyre pressure (which affects rolling resistance).

But, with all things considered, the claimed consumption figures do work well as a guide.

How does Tim’s pick, the Mazda3, stack up against the competition?

What follows is a table showing all makes and models of new small cars currently on sale. Without going into fine detail on engines, we have selected the lowest combined fuel consumption for each available fuel type.

 

Minimum L/100km combined cycle
HYBRID DIESEL PETROL PREMIUM PETROL
ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA 4.9
AUDI A3 1.6 4.1 4.8
RS3 8.1
S3 6.5
BMW 1 SERIES 3.8 5.2
2 SERIES 4.2 5.2
i3 0.6
CITROEN C4 4.9
DS4 4.3
FORD FOCUS 5.8 7.3
HOLDEN ASTRA 5.8
CRUZE 7.0
HONDA CIVIC 6.0 6.4
HYUNDAI ELANTRA 7.1
i30 4.5 6.8
KIA CERATO 7.1
SOUL 8.4
LEXUS CT 200h. HYBRID 4.1
M.G. 6 PLUS 7.8
MAZDA MAZDA 3 5.7
MERCEDES-AMG A45 6.9
MERCEDES-BENZ A180 5.8
A200 4.0 6.1
A250 6.7
B180 5.8
B200 4.2 5.9
B250 6.8
MINI CLUBMAN 7.2
COOPER 3.7 4.7
ONE 4.9
RAY 4.9
MITSUBISHI LANCER 6.9
NISSAN PULSAR 6.7 7.7
PEUGEOT 308 4.1 5.1
PROTON PREVE 7.2
SUPRIMA S 8.8
RENAULT MEGANE 5.5
SUBARU IMPREZA 6.6
LEVORG 8.7
WRX 8.6
SUZUKI BALENO 5.1
TOYOTA COROLLA 4.1 6.1
PRIUS 3.4
PRIUS V 4.4
VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE 6.4
GOLF 4.7 5.2
JETTA 6.2
VOLVO V40 4.1 5.6
AVERAGE 3.0 4.2 6.6 6.3

 

You can see that, at 5.7L/100km, the Mazda 3 is actually the second-best among cars that can use regular unleaded petrol, behind only the Suzuki Baleno.

We’ll ignore hybrids, as they will obviously be more efficient. Likewise diesels, as the Mazda is no longer offered with a diesel engine.

Now, let’s combine all petrol-engine cars to see how the Mazda ranks.

 

 

When viewed alongside the three-cylinder options from Mini and Audi, and sub-5L/100km claims from the small turbo-engine Alfa-Romeo Giulietta, the Mazda moves a little down the ladder… but not by much.

The average for the segment, for all petrol-only cars, is 6.3L/100km, making the Mazda 3’s claim much better than most.

As for meeting that claim, well that’s over to you. Good luck!


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