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Fast & frugal: 10 most economical sports cars

High-end sports cars drink fuel like sozzled students at a freshers party. Some of them are so thirsty, in fact, that you might as well forget pumping expensive high-octane gas and simply line their tanks with white truffles and crumpled up £50 notes. And don’t get us started on their environmental impact or the cost of taxing the things.

Luckily, not all sports cars are as insistent on bleeding you and Mother Nature dry. Most are, obviously, but there are a select few that are so cheap to run, they’d give many a family hatchback a run for their money. We analysed the relative eco merits of some of the most popular marques in the sector, paying special attention to those that offer the most impressive economy emissions and can now bring you the definitive list of the 10 most economical sports cars. Don’t say we’re not good to you.

10. Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2

Lamborghini Gallardo LP-550-2
Lamborghini Gallardo LP-550-2

It’s hardly surprising to find the Gallardo at the bottom of our top ten list because Lamborghinis aren’t designed to save fuel. Their primary roles in life are to impress women, incite hatred in the hearts of jealous men, and to destroy as much of the Earth as possible. Even the entry-level LP 550-2 model, the greenest car in Lamborghini’s range of supercars, ingests fuel like a fat kid mainline’s donuts. Expect 19.6mpg and lorry-rivalling emissions of 341 grammes of CO2 per kilometre.

Economy: 19.6mpg
Emissions: 341g/km
Power: 550bhp
Torque: 540Nm
0-62mph: 3.9s
Top speed: 199mph

9. Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Aston Martin V8 Vantage

The V8 engine in the Vantage could be described as the most eco-friendly unit in the company’s arsenal. It would be more accurate, however, to say it is the least environmentally murderous – just. It is a spiteful thing that, despite being smaller and having fewer valves than the lump in the Gallardo, drinks roughly the same amount of fuel while emitting damn near the same amount of gunk. The Gallardo is far more expensive, however, so we’ll let the Aston slide on that basis. 20.5mpg is possible, but only if you smear the throttle in baby oil and massage it as tenderly as you would a long lost lover.

Economy: 20.5
Emissions: 321
Power: 420bhp
Torque: 470Nm
0-62mph: 4.9s
Top speed:  

8. Jaguar XK-R

Jaguar XK-R
Jaguar XK-R

Jaguar’s standard XK-R is quite a common sight on British roads, which is terrible news for anyone who values their lungs. That said, its supercharged V8 is a hell of a lot less spiteful than the naturally-aspirated lump in the Vantage. It chucks out nearly 100bhp more while returning a superior 23mpg. It’s even relatively clean, dipping below the 300g/km mark. A big pat on the back should go to Jaguar – thanks ever so much for not murdering us at the same rate as your esteemed colleagues.  

Economy: 23mpg
Emissions: 292g/km
Power: 510bhp
0-62mph: 4.5s
Top speed: 174mph

7. Nissan GT-R

The Nissan GT-R is the only car in this group that will do 0-62mph in under 3 seconds. It gets a decent 24mpg, too.
The Nissan GT-R is the only car in this group that will do 0-62mph in under 3 seconds. It gets a decent 24mpg, too.

The GT-R is made by Nissan, a company that produces what is arguably the best electric car on the planet. Don’t be fooled by the firm’s apparent fondness for green motors, however, because the GT-R will choke you and the planet you live on half to death given the a chance. Its 3.8-litre V6 engine is one of the smallest in this group, but will only achieve 24mpg and 275g/km. To its credit, it manages to achieve by far the best acceleration in this group, racing to 62mph in under three seconds. That’s worth the risk of lung disease and bankruptcy isn’t it?

Economy: 24mpg
Emissions: 275g/km
Power: 550bhp
Torque: 632Nm
0-62mph: 2.8 seconds
Top speed: 196mph

6. Mclaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C
McLaren MP4-12C

The MP4-12C delivers pretty respectable economy and emissions given how powerful it is. Its 24.2mpg isn’t the best in this group, but it is arguably the most impressive when you take into account the fact it delivers nearly 600bhp – the highest power output in this group. What’s most surprising is that it spits CO2 at a rate below 280g/km despite McLaren’s expertise being in Formula One racing, a discipline where emissions are often the furthest thing from an engineer’s mind. We suspect magic. Of the black variety. Or perhaps pixies.

Economy: 24.2mpg
Emissions: 279g/km
Power: 592bhp
Torque: 602Nm
0-62mph: 3.1
Top Speed: 204mph

5. Nissan 370 Z

Nissan 370Z
Nissan 370Z

The 370Z is the runt of this litter in performance terms. It’s the only one in this company that needs more than five seconds to hit 62mph and Nissan has seen fit to limit its top speed to 155mph. That being the case it should have a shot at securing the best fuel economy and emissions in the group but 26.6mpg is the best you can coax from its 3.7-litre naturally-aspirated V6 engine. We suppose we could live with that. A bit more grunt would be nice, but it’s an inexpensive, entertaining sports car that handles absolutely beautifully.

Economy: 26.6
Emissions: 248g/km
Power: 328bhp
0-62mph: 5.3s
Top speed: 155mph

4. Lotus Evora S IPS

Lotus Evora S
Lotus Evora S

The Evora S rarely gets uttered in the same breath as some of its more esteemed rival, but don’t be fooled – it’s impressively quick – particularly in supercharged S form with the IPS gearbox. It’ll keep up with most things in this group until 62mph, after which it begins to wheeze a little due to its relative lack of power and limited top speed. You can still embarrass most cars away from the lights, however, and you’ll have to visit the pumps far less frequently than you would in similar cars. What’s more, the Evora S qualifies for band J vehicle taax, so you’ll pay the goverment around £200 per year less than its peers to keep it on the road.

Economy: 28.7mpg
Emissions: 229g/km
Power: 350bhp
Torque: 400Nm
0-62mph: 4.5s
Top Speed: 155mph

3. Porsche 911 Carrera

Porsche 911 Carrera
Porsche 911 Carrera

If you’re thinking this is some sort of mistake, that the Porsche 911 Carrera is one of the most esteemed thoroughbreds on the planet, and that there’s no way it could be the third most economical supercar on our list then you’d be mistaken. The Porsche uses a 3.4-litre straight-six engine that somehow helps it do 0-62mph in under five seconds, while also returning a frankly incredible 30.4mpg. That staggering figure, as well as the equally-impressive emissions number, goes a long way to explaining why so many people are happy to drive 911s on a daily basis.

Economy: 30.4mpg
Emissions: 219g/km
Power: 340bhp
Torque: 450Nm
0-62mph:4.8s
Top speed: 179mph

2. Porsche Boxster S PDK

Porsche Boxster S.
Porsche Boxster S.

Don’t let this car’s reputation fool you – it’s quick. In Boxster S form, its 3.4-litre boxer engine pushes out 315bhp and 360Nm of torque, so it’s good for 0-62mph in 5 seconds, making it a mere 0.2s slower than the 911. Despite this thrilling performance, Porsche claims the Boxster S will return a quite remarkable 32.1mpg on the combined cycle while emitting a decidedly nature-friendly 188 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. It might not be the most hardcore sports car in the world but when it’s this cheap to run who the hell cares?

Economy: 32.1mpg
Emissions: 188g/km
Power: 315bhp
Torque: 360Nm
0-62mph: 5.0s
Top Speed: 172mph

1. Audi TT RS Plus

Audi TT RS Plus.
Audi TT RS Plus.

We know what you’re thinking: How can a lowly Audi TT win this group — particularly when its 2.5-litre 5-cylinder is the weediest of the bunch? It’s simple, really — it’s faster than almost everything else on this list and Audi claims that if you tickle the throttle it’s possible to eek out 33.2mpg on the combined cycle. That’s almost unthinkable for a car that manages to outpace the Aston Martin V8 Vantage in a 0-62mph sprint. The TT RS may get a bit of a bad rap for being based on a common-as-muck hairdresser’s favourite, but it’s one of the most sensible choices for anyone that values performance and low running costs.

Economy: 33.2mpg
Emissions: 209g/km
Power: 355bhp
Torque: 465Nm
0-62mph: 4.1s
Top speed: 174mph

Fuel gauge image: Flickr

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