According to SmartPlanet one of the few good green things to come out of Alistair Darling’s Budget was his shake-up of vehicle excise duty – better known as road tax – to penalise gas guzzling cars.
The new rules mean that when you buy a new car in 2010 which emits more than 130g of CO2 per kilometre you’ll get stung with a ‘first year rate’ charge. That ranges from a minimum of £115 for a BMW 3 Series E90 right up to £950 for a Porsche Cayman S. Obviously the way to beat the budget is to buy a greener car. But what if you don’t have £20,000 to lay down on a Toyota Prius, much less a whopping £80K for a Lexus hybrid? Worry not – SmartPlanet have hunted down ten great motors that won’t maul the planet or your wallet.
All the cars on the list emit 130g of CO2 or less per kilometre – dodging that new first year rate – and our chosen few range from £17,100 at the upper limit down to £10,500 at the bottom, covering the spectrum of car sizes. Electric cars have been deliberately left out, as they are only really suitable for city living.
Here are SmartPlanets’s top affordable eco machines.
1: Seat Ibiza, 1.4 TDI 80PS Ecomotive, diesel
CO2 (g/km): 99
Seat’s probably not the first name you think of when it comes to green cars, but this three-door supermini’s both cheap to buy and cheap to run.
2: Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion, 1.4 TDI 80PS
This little diesel has all the solid German build quality you’d expect, plus an incredibly economic engine that’ll make the man at the garage a distant stranger.
3: Honda Civic Hybrid 1.4 IMA ES
As the cheapest hybrid in the UK, the Honda Civic Hybrid is a good, small family alternative to the Prius — so long as you can stomach automatic transmission.
4: Renault Megane Sport Hatch 1.5 dCi 86 Expression 3 door
Like Citroen, Renault’s one of the unsung French brands which has been doing a huge amount to cut emissions across its range. This small family car is a particularly economic example.
5: Citroen C3 1.6HDi
The Citroen C3 is an efficient, straightforward car with a big boot and not quite enough legroom at the back.
6: Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi
This is a brand new version of Britain’s most popular car. It’s incredibly fuel-efficient and, if it’s similar to the Ford bioethanol Focus we reviewed, will make for a good reliable drive.
7: Renault New Laguna Hatch dCi 110
As it emits 130g of CO2 per kilometre the Laguna is just on the borderline of being a greener option, and it’s also on the pricey side. But it has some of the best green creds you’ll get for a car of this size.
8: Skoda Fabia Estate1.4 TDI PD 80PS
No more funny jokes about Skodas. This one is big and clever — not to mention as cheap and green as estate cars come.
9: Peugot 207 SW, 1.6 HDi
Another big but green option. According to Autoexpress it’s a little dear, but it has everything you could want in an estate.
10: SMART Fortwo Cabrio
With their heavier frames for safety and structure, it’s surprising any open-top cars made this list. But we can fully recommend this Smart, since it emits so little CO2 and only costs mite over £10K.