Microcar Fuel Efficiency by Engine

A Comparison of Microcar Fuel Efficiency by Engine

Which microcars really earn their right to be small? At that size, they had better be truly fuel efficient cars. The following models offer a good fit for a busy urban life where traffic is often slow and parking spaces are scarce. The trade-off is low horsepower that can make interstate driving a real challenge.

2014 Smart Fortwo: Non Hybrid

The 2014 Smart Fortwo has a one-liter engine. It’s three inline cylinders have four valves each. Aluminum construction keeps it lightweight. The low 70 horsepower and dismal 68 lb-ft of torque cannot be expected to handle much interstate driving, unless it is the urban stop-and-go variety. The Smart was one of the first small cars to really crank up fuel economy. It was the car to beat, but not like it once was. The current version has 38 mpg fuel economy on the highway and 34 mpg in the city. This two-seater requires premium fuel, which increases the costs of fuel.

2014 Smart Fortwo: All Electric Engines

The 2014 Smart Fortwo Plug-In does the job a bit better by replacing traditional gas engines with electric engines. It boosts horsepower to 74, and more importantly, it cranks up the torque to 98 lb-ft. This makes the car much more viable on the interstate when traffic demands decent acceleration ability. With its water-cooled permanent AC motor, this electric model uses no gasoline. If it did, the ratings would be a whopping 122 mpg/city and 93 mpg/hwy. Instead, it is smarter to look at the range of this commuter car. It can go up to 76 miles in the city on a single charge. On the highway, this drops to 59 miles.

2014 Scion IQ: Non Hybrid Performer

Slightly larger, but still micro-sized, the two-door Scion IQ adds two seats in the back. The one liter engine can generate 94 horsepower/78 lb-ft of torque. Four valves per cylinder are housed in the dual overhead cam. Electronic sensor technology allows the valves to operate independently for maximum efficiency of 36 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway.

2014 Fiat 500: Style and Horsepower

With its classic good looks, the Fiat 500 is the most stylish choice. The 1.4 liter engine is a four cylinder that uses a MultiAir intake to generate better air-to-gas ratio and 101 horsepower. The 500 Pop gets 31 mpg/city and a class superlative 40 mpg/interstate. The engine can be turbocharged for 135 horsepower. This also adds automatic transmission. The turbo mileage, however, is only 28 mpg/city and 34/highway.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage: A Newer Alternative

The four-door 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage offers a class-leading 44/highway and 37/city. This is accomplished through a 74 horsepower engine and available automatic transmission, a continuously variable gearshifter. The three-cylinder model utilizes MIVEC technology, Mitsubishi’s valve timing system, to squeeze more power out of the fuel. A manual transmission Mirage is the least expensive model on this microcar list, but fuel efficiency drops slightly.