The Best Environmentally ‘Green’ Cars on the Market – Part III
Posted on April 15, 2017
As we saw in Part I and Part II of this series of articles on green cars, you don’t have to grow your own food and weave your clothes from your sheep’s wool to do something for the planet. With full-electric and hybrid cars, you can reduce your carbon footprint without compromising on comfort and convenience.
For the third instalment, we will be looking at two German cars and one Japanese SUV.
Yes, you read correctly, there is an electric SUV, and a rather good one at that.
With a Volvo XC90 twin engine, the Outlander is, to this date, the undefeated champion as far as low running costs and emissions are concerned. Unashamedly hi-tech, it combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid powertrain developed from the set-up of the i-MiEV. Two 60kW electric motors to power front and rear wheels independently give it its - part-time - 4WD credentials.
With a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Outlander PHEV claims an all-electric driving range of over 32km on a single charge.
Like other hybrid vehicles, it is better to leave the Outlander manage electric and petrol use itself, although the SUV comes with a setting that lets you hold the battery charge for later use. It can be quite useful if you have a long journey on the motorway followed by city driving as you can delay using the electric battery until then.
Although Mitsubishi declared fuel economy at 148mpg, it is more likely that it will, in reality, be more around 40-45mpg. That is still very honourable and similar to the Outlander diesel. With CO2 emissions of only 44g/km, the Outlander still qualifies for low taxes in many countries, making it a good option for company car users.
Although it may not be the most exciting vehicle to drive, it is still comfortable and quiet and one of the few green SUVs on offer at the moment.
VolksWagen Polo BlueMotion 1.0 TSI
VW Polos are among the most successful small cars around the world. So much so that several of their variations are in the Top 50 of the most commonly stolen cars in South Africa!
Available since 1975, they have gone through regular facelifts and five generations that ensured that they remained current in terms of design and performance.
The green incarnation of the supermini is as appealing as ever. Based on the BlueMotion diesel model from 2006, it is the lowest-emission, cleanest electric car around - without the diesel engine of course.
The original model sported a sleeker look than the standard Polo, with a surround rear window, lowered sports car suspension and tyres with reduced drag. Under this attractive bonnet, a finely-tuned version of a 1.4 TDI 3-cylinder diesel was combined with a 5-speed gearbox with extra-long gear ratios to give the car some serious bite. As a result, the BlueMotion was the first car to go beneath the 100g/km emissions threshold, with an economy of 74.3mpg.
However, in 2014-15, VW was found guilty of deliberately manipulating test results of diesel cars to make them appear cleaner that they really were, and after a worldwide recall and global chastisement, their enthusiasm for diesel engines seriously faded. The Polo as a diesel vehicle was abandoned and replaced with a petrol hybrid version which hasn’t lost its perkiness and sporty behaviour in the process as it can reach 100km/h in just 10.5 seconds.
The current BlueMotion model features the same efficiencies as the original but is powered with a 94bhp 1.0 TSI turbo 3-cylinder engine and claims fuel economy of 68.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 94g/km. It is cheaper to run than its diesel counterparts, its price is lower and it doesn’t attract the diesel surcharge. A good little car all around.
Like the BMW i3, the BMW 330e is decidedly sporty and won’t disappoint you if you are looking for an exciting car.
The model belongs to BMW’s iPerformance brand which is to say that its priority isn’t being environmentally friendly, but good driving dynamics and affordability. Having said that, it is still one of the greenest cars currently available with economies of 148.7mpg and emissions are 44g/km for the SE model – the higher specification cars in the range having higher emissions.
It is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine like the BMW 320i and the electric motor for its hybrid function can deliver an impressive 248bhp, much more than its direct competition, the VW Passat GE. In addition, its torque boosts the car responses at low revs, assisting it during acceleration, although it must be said that it loses its edge the faster you go.
Still, it is thoroughly enjoyable to drive on a daily basis and it handles with the smoothness we can expect from a BMW despite some body roll in bends and some sluggishness from the weight of the batteries at the rear.
The switch from fuel to electric mode is done automatically and there is no option to run the 330e as a purely electric vehicle, but like the Outlander, you can choose when to use the battery charge.
Like all hybrid cars, the real economies depend on how you drive but the petrol engine cuts in regularly so it is likely to be less efficient than the VW Passat GTE.
As a socially responsible company, we support anything that contributes to a cleaner environment, and this is why we find electric cars so wonderful. If you need to ship your car internationally, petrol, diesel, hybrid or fully electric, then get in touch. Our absolute priority is to make sure that transporting your car is stress free for you and that, when you collect it, it is in the same state as you left it. If you want to find out more, call us on +64 9 303 0075 or send us an email. You can even request a quote online.