Top 10 fuel-efficient diesel cars in India in 2021

by Rivan RS, Autocar India 18 May 2021


The inexorable rise of fuel prices continues and the prices of petrol and diesel have hit their highest yet in Mumbai. And elsewhere in the country too. Diesel, once touted as the ‘common man’s fuel’, has crossed the Rs 90-a-litre mark for the first time. Therefore, it’s important to know which cars will help you maximise every litre.

Without further ado, here are the 10 most fuel-efficient diesel cars on sale in India today.

10. Honda WR-V – 23.7kpl

Honda’s Jazz-based cross-hatch is powered by the familiar 1.5-litre, four-cylinder i-DTEC engine. Making 100hp and 200Nm of torque, this engine helps the Honda WR-V diesel pip compact SUV rivals like the Ford Eco-Sport (21.7kpl), Tata Nexon (22.4kpl) and Hyundai Venue (23.3kpl) in ARAI’s fuel efficiency tests. As we found out in our WR-V facelift review, this frugal engine has a tractable nature but is quite audible. It’s also the engine of choice for the WR-V, with the other being a meek 90hp, 1.2-litre petrol unit.

9. Ford Freestyle – 23.8kpl

Ford’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit is an excellent example of a small diesel engine done right. In the Ford Free-style cross-hatch, it can go 23.8km on a litre of diesel. Of the two engine options available – the other is a 96hp, 1.2-litre petrol mill – it is the diesel unit that is far better suited to the Freestyle’s fun-to-drive nature. The Freestyle is the only diesel cross-hatch in its class; neither the Maruti Suzuki Ignis nor the Mahindra KUV100 NXT have that option.

8. Kia Sonet – 24.1kpl

Although the Sonet was recently updated for 2021, it continues with the same powertrain options. In diesel-manual form, the Kia Sonet may be powered by the same 100hp, 1.5-litre engine as the Hyundai Venue, but the former can go 0.8km further on a litre of diesel. An ARAI figure of 24.1kpl means the Sonet is the most fuel-efficient diesel compact SUV currently on sale. When specced with the 6-speed automatic gearbox, the Sonet gets a bump in output and is rat-ed at 19kpl, making it one of the most frugal automatic cars currently available. Interestingly, this diesel-auto combina-tion is also available with the Hyundai Creta and the Kia Seltos (which has a revised line-up for 2021), which are rated at 19kpl and 18kpl, respectively.

8. Fifth-gen Honda City – 24.1kpl

Sharing the eighth spot with the Sonet is Honda’s fifth-gen City. It is powered by the same 1.5-litre diesel unit as the WR-V but has a 0.4kpl advantage over the cross-hatch. In addition to the pros of this i-DTEC engine – tractable from low revs, minimal turbo lag and a linear build of power – our Honda City road test showed it feels more refined in this application. The new Honda City is one of the most expensive cars on this list.

7. Ford Figo & Aspire – 24.4kpl

 In the Ford Figo hatchback and Aspire compact sedan, Ford’s excellent 1.5-litre diesel goes even further on a litre of diesel. Despite the approximate 15kg difference in kerb weights, both models have an identical ARAI rating of 24.4kpl, which could be due to the different gearing on the 5-speed manual.

The Figo diesel is an arch-rival to the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios, while the Ford Aspire diesel directly takes on the Hyundai Aura and Honda Amaze.

6. Honda Amaze – 24.7kpl

Speaking of the Amaze, Honda’s compact sedan is powered by a 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine that is mated to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT-automatic gearbox. The diesel-manual version is rated at 24.7kpl, while the

Amaze diesel-CVT has an ARAI rating of 21kpl, and output figures that are 20hp and 40Nm of torque lower. The Honda Amaze diesel is the second-most efficient compact sedan by a margin of 0.3kpl.

5. Hyundai Verna – 25kpl

The Hyundai Verna is the only other diesel mid-size sedan on this list. Recently updated with a new 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine which is shared with the Creta, the Verna sure has appeal for buyers with lots of driving. The Verna die-sel-manual delivers 25kpl while the smooth auto is good for 21.3kpl.

4. Hyundai Grand i10 Nios – 25.1kpl

Hyundai’s 1.2-litre U2 CRDi unit is the smallest diesel engine currently available in India. In the Grand i10 Nios, this three-cylinder engine makes 75hp and comes with the 5-speed manual and AMT gearbox options. The diesel-manual Nios has a fuel-efficiency figure of 25.1kpl. While the Nios diesel-AMT’s ARAI figure is yet unknown, one can expect it to be close to the manual’s. Although the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios diesel is the most frugal diesel hatchback in its class, it is only the third most frugal hatchback in India.

3. Tata Altroz – 25.11kpl

The Tata Altroz premium hatchback uses a 90hp version of Tata Motor’s 1.5-litre Revotorq engine and is only available with a manual transmission. This combination has an ARAI-rated economy of 25.11kpl. The Altroz loses the title of ‘most efficient diesel hatchback in India’ to the new i20 by a 0.9kpl margin. As we found out in our i20 vs Altroz diesel comparison, on a budget, the Tata is our pick between the two diesel premium hatchbacks. However, those with a bit more spending power will find the Hyundai is the more rounded package.

2. Hyundai i20 – 25.2kpl

The third-gen Hyundai i20 is the most frugal hatchback currently on sale. It shares its 100hp, 1.5-litre diesel engine, which is known for its flexibility and efficiency, with the Venue. We found out in our review that in diesel form, the 2020 i20 is an easy hatchback to live with, both in town and on the highway.

1. Hyundai Aura – 25.40kpl

Hyundai’s 1.2-litre diesel engine also does duty in the Aura compact sedan and it’s at its most frugal here. Interesting-ly, the Hyundai Aura diesel-AMT has an ARAI-certified fuel economy of 25.40kpl, stretching each litre of diesel the far-thest, which makes it the most fuel-efficient diesel car in India right now. The diesel-manual also impresses with its 25.35kpl figure.

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