Top 10 green cars to watch in 2010 image

As part of the regular ‘Top 10′ series, WhatGreenCar looks ahead to the greenest and most innovative cars due for launch in 2010.

In a world overturned by the ‘credit crunch’ and threatened by ‘climate change’, one in which economic and environmental concerns require equal attention, there cannot have been a better time to buy a fuel-efficient, low emission car.

The good news is that, as road tax, company car, and London Congestion Charge incentives for low carbon cars steadily increase, the auto industry is now offering a wider range of quality new low carbon models, some of which will appear in UK showrooms during 2010.

This year’s crop of new models includes an incredible range of technical innovations designed to maximise performance and drive down emissions. Of the ‘Top 10′ cars listed below, two are fully electric, two are petrol-hybrid, one is a ‘plug-in hybrid’, and at least three will launch with the latest Gasoline Direct Engine (GDI) or EcoBoost turbocharger/direct injection technology.

1. Peugeot iOn electric — CO2: 0 g/km — WGC Rating 10

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Following years of being ahead in the electric vehicle (EV) world, Peugeot has now partnered with Mitsubishi to launch the iOn electric car — a French incarnation of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (sister PSA company Citroen are badging the same car as the ‘C-Zero’). Unlike most of the EVs currently available, the iOn is a proper four-seat electric car (as opposed to a quadricycle). Bigger than the G-Wiz, and with more room than the two-seater MINI E, the iOn shares the same chassis and body as the Mitsubishi i-car. The iOn’s 63bhp electric motor provides adequate performance of 0-62 mph in 13.0 seconds, a top speed of 87 mph, a range of up to 81 miles, and a recharge time of 6 hours using a conventional three-pin plug. However, zero-emission motoring does come at a cost — on top of car purchase, the first 16 kW lithium-ion battery pack is expected to be leased for several hundred pounds per month. That said, fuel costs are less than 2p per mile, road tax is nil, and the car will qualify for the 100% discount from the London Congestion Charge. Price tbc; available autumn 2010.

2. Nissan LEAF electric — CO2: 0 g/km

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When launched later this year, the Nissan LEAF will be the world’s first zero-emission C-segment (small family) car. Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, then LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 100 miles to satisfy consumer requirements. The car is powered by a compact set of lithium-ion batteries, which generate power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW/280Nm. This ensures a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience that is in keeping with what drivers have come to expect from a conventionally powered car. The LEAF can be charged up to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger, or more usually at home on a standard socket over 8 hours. While Nissan zero-emissions model is unlikely to be cheap, it will qualify for the planned £2k-£5k consumer grants due in 2011. As with the iOn, fuel costs are less than 2p per mile, road tax is nil, and the car will qualify for the 100% discount from the London Congestion Charge. Price tbc; available autumn 2010.

3. Toyota Plug-in Prius hybrid — CO2: 59 g/km (expected)

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Following the highly successful launch of the third generation Prius in 2009, this   year brings the next development of the Prius story with the launch of the eagerly awaited Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) based on the latest model. The PHV, which uses lithium-ion batteries (a first for Toyota), offers greater range on electric power only, significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions. As its name suggests, the plug-in version can be charged from an external source as well as by the car’s own hybrid drive system. Although test cycles that measure the performance of PHVs are yet to be fully developed, estimates are that the Prius PHV emits only 59g CO2/km in the New European Driving Cycle. Repeat 59g CO2/km, which should be considered as incredible for a car of this size! Only Approximately 600 units will be introduced in Japan, the United States, and Europe this year with 20 coming to the UK in mid-2010. Likely to be initially available on lease from summer 2010.

4. Audi A1 — CO2: <99 g/km (expected)

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This year will see Audi will launch its long-awaited challenge to the Mini. The compact supermini-sized A1 will use the VW group’s MQB modular transverse engineering package and there will be three different body styles: a three-door hatch, a roomier five-door and a convertible. While the standard Audi A1s on offer will be front-wheel drive, being an Audi, Quattro four-wheel drive will also be available — S1 and Q1 derivatives will have the added traction gains allowed by all-wheel drive. The choice of engine will be between a 1.4 petrol-unit (65bhp up to 200bhp for the hot hatch) and a 1.6 diesel engine (75bhp and 130bhp). Transmissions on offer will include a standard manual, and a twin-clutch, seven-speed S-tronic gearbox. The car is already being billed as a challenger to BMW’s ultra-successful Mini, and Audi is reported to be targeting 100,000 sales in the A1’s first year. Future innovations may even include an electric version of the A1 (again following hot on Mini E’s trail) by 2011. From £11,000 (estimated); available summer 2010.

5. Toyota Auris hybrid — CO2: <99 g/km (expected)

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With the 2010 Auris hybrid, Toyota will (again) be forging ahead of other car makers with its commitment to hybrid technology. Not only will the Auris hybrid be the smallest hybrid car on the market, it will also be Toyota’s first European hybrid based on a regular production car, and will use the same hybrid technology as Toyota’s latest Prius (the Hybrid Synergy Drive). While Toyota has not yet provided complete performance details, it claims that the new model should achieve a sub 99g/km CO2 figure with class-leading fuel economy and a 0-62mph acceleration time of around 10 seconds. In order to help it achieve these figures, the hybrid is 20mm lower than a standard Auris, and features additional flat undertrays and a rear diffuser. Even the alloy wheels are designed to reduce air turbulence in the wheel arches, and the car is fitted with low rolling-resistance car tyres. The engine is able to operate in three modes: ECO for maximum fuel economy, POWER, which uses the electric motor to boost performance, and EV, switching the Auris to electric power alone — for up to 1.25 miles at speeds of to 31mph. Other innovations include solar panels on the roof help power the ventilation system, while LED lights front and rear reduce energy consumption and improve economy. Price tbc; available mid-2010.

6. Citroen DS3 HDi — CO2: 99 g/km (expected)

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Launched at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show the DS3 brings a radically new look to the Citroen range, and is expected to be the first of three planned DS models in a new range. The new supermini has been designed to be more fuel efficient than the current C3, with two HDi DPFS engines (90bhp and 110bhp) complementing three petrol engines (VTi 95, VTi 120, THP 150), developed in conjunction with BMW. In particular the lower powered diesel unit will power a car with official CO2 emissions of only 99g/km – in other words a road tax free car. The more powerful diesel unit has emissions of 115g/km, while the three petrol engine versions emit between 136g/km to 160g/km. Visually striking the new model line promises to offer an extensive level of customisation, including four roof colours, coloured wing mirrors and rubbing strips allowing a myriad of colour-coding options. Inside the cabin the French carmaker is also planning on a radical departure from current models. Safety is also at the heart of the DS3 concept with 6 airbags, ESP, ABS with EBD and EBA fitted as standard across the range. Price tbc; available early 2010.

7. Volvo S60 — CO2: 119 g/km (expected)

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First unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show last year, 2010 should see the production version of the much publicised S60 Concept. While it remains to be seen which of the numerous on-board innovations make it to the real-world version, its looks and emissions are likely to be close to those of the Concept model. The new S60 will come with a four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol unit using high-efficiency GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) technology, producing 180 horsepower. GTDi’s ability to improve fuel economy by around 20% is the main reason that the S60 is expected to have CO2 emissions of only 119g/km — remarkable for a non-hybrid petrol car and more like a diesel in this respect. The new model may also come with an updated radar-based Volvo’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which maintains a set time gap to the vehicle in front; now usable in slow-moving queues with repeated starting and stopping. Also advertised is the S60’s Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection, which gives an audible and visual warning to the driver, before automatically braking the car to avoid a pedestrian. Prices tbc; available mid-2010.

8. Ford C-MAX — CO2: TBA

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Building on the green credentials of the 2009 Ford C-MAX, the all-new 2010 model will provide even better comfort and lower emissions. Based on new C-segment vehicle platform, Ford will offer both a choice of a five-seat C-MAX or seven-seat Grand C-MAX, which features twin sliding doors and innovative seat design to provide outstanding space and flexibility. In addition to upgraded versions of Ford’s highly acclaimed TDCi diesel engines, the new C-MAX range introduces a number of advanced new technologies including the more fuel-efficient, lower-CO2 EcoBoost petrol engines which use turbocharging and direct injection technology to improve fuel consumption by up to 20%. Ford philosophy is that this technology provides similar benefits to hybrid or diesel engine designs at lower cost. EcoBoost is also able to deliver the strong low-end torque and responsive performance of a large capacity engine, but with the size, weight and fuel economy of a much smaller unit. Other new innovations include a new more versatile seat layout, semi-automatic parallel parking, blind spot detection, seat belt warning lights for rear seat passengers, and power operation for the tailgate. Prices tbc; available 2010.

9. Honda CR-Z hybrid — CO2: TBA

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For drivers who want a sports coupe that can claim to be green, Honda is planning to launch the CR-Z (Compact Renaissance Zero) as a follow-up to the successful second-generation CR-X. The new CR-Z is set to be a hybrid and will be the next Honda hybrid to be launched following the successful Insight launched in 2009, and before the Jazz hybrid which is next in line. Like the Insight, the CR-Z will utilise a mild hybrid Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) drive-train, which places an electric motor between the petrol engine and transmission. Unlike Toyota’s Prius system, this limits the possibility of electric-only operation, but does significantly increase overall fuel economy, so reducing emissions. Although its sporty image, the efficiency of the 2+2 front-wheel drive sports coupe CR-Z is helped by its small size and low weight. From £16,000 (est); available mid-2009.

10. BMW 5 Series — CO2: TBA

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Under its EfficientDynamics branding, BMW’s 5th generation 5 Series will continue to squeeze maximum performance with minimum emissions. There are plenty of greener (and not so green) models to choose from in the new line-up ranging from the most popular diesel-powered 520d (184hp, 0-62 in 8.1 seconds, top speed of 141mph, 56.5 official mpg, and CO2 of just 132g/km), right up to the petrol-powered twin-turbo 535i (0-62 in 6.0 seconds, 155mph, 33.2mpg , CO2 199g/km). Other main models include the 525d, 530d, 535d, 523i, 535i and 528i. (There is also a decidedly un-green twin turbo 4.4-litre V8 550i with CO2 emissions of 243g/km.) All 5 Series with manual gearboxes will get a gearshift indicator light, to assist with eco-driving. Regenerative breaking is a standard feature — this tops the battery up with juice using kinetic energy gleaned from breaking. Low-rolling resistance tyres are also an option on some models. As you’d expect from BMW, interior finish is improved yet again, with the new model taking the interior refinement close to 7 Series levels. Other new innovations include: Park Assist (which scans the roadside for a suitably proportioned parking space), 360 degree cameras which give an all round view for parking convenience and better views around blind junctions and four-wheel steering, which lowers the new BMW’s turning circle by 0.5 metres. From £27,555; available March 2010.

Source: WGC