Read our exclusive guide, live from the show, to the most important top 40 fuel efficient cars at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show – the majority of which you can either buy now, or you’ll be able to buy in the near future. So don’t place that order for a new car until you’ve read this
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This is our top green car of the 2013 Geneva Motor Show – the two-seater Volkswagen XL1 is capable of 313mpg, thanks to its plug-in hybrid, or TwinDrive, system which includes an electric motor, a two-cylinder TDI engine, and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. It can cover 30 miles in all-electric mode. Volkswagen is actually going to build the XL1, but only in small volumes – and at a steep price.
The new Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion will soon be on sale in the UK – and it will be available in estate form, as shown here, as well as a hatchback. It’s capable of combined fuel consumption of 88.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 85 g/km in hatch form; the estate has combined fuel consumption of 85.6mpg, equivalent to 87 g/km CO2.
While we’re on the subject on Golfs, if you want efficiency but also performance, then this is the one to go for – the diesel Golf GT is capable of 67.3mpg, with 109g/km CO2, yet it can also accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, with a top speed of 142mph. It goes on sale in Europe in June 2013.
The Volkswagen Eco Up is a super-economical version of the firm’s city car, which runs on compressed natural gas, emitting just 79g/km CO2. The only problem is that you can’t buy one in the UK, because there’s no gas refuelling network.
There’s been lots of electric car concepts at motor shows over recent years, but some manufacturers such as Audi have cooled off about bringing pure EVs to market. The Audi A3 e-tron is a 1.4 TFSI petrol-electric plug-in hybrid that returns 188mpg and CO2 emissions of 35g/km. It also develops 204PS, 350Nm of system torque, has a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds, a 138mph top speed, and a 31-mile maximum range in electric mode.
Not to be confused with the e-tron, the Audi A3 g-tron is an A3 Sportback powered by a combination of a 1.4 TFSI petrol engine and CO2-neutral Audi e-gas (compressed natural gas). It develops 110PS and 200Nm of torque, accelerates from 0-62 mph in 11 seconds, has a 118mph top speed, emits less than 95g/km CO2 (well-to-wheel 30g/km), delivering 80.7mpg equivalent. Like the Volkswagen Eco Up, and the Volkswagen Golf with the same engine technology, you can’t buy this car in the UK, but it’s a reminder that compressed natural gas is an environmentally-friendly fuel that’s available in Europe.
The BMW i3 is the first production electric car from the company, which will go on sale in the UK in 2013. It will be available with either a pure electric powertrain – with a range of 80-100 miles – or an optional petrol-electric range-extender, which increases the driving range to approximately 186 miles.
The BMW i8 is the high performance/high efficiency sports car model in the i-brand range. The new generation of high-tech, 3-cylinder petrol engines for the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will be produced exclusively at the BMW engine plant at Hams Hall, near Birmingham. The BMW i8 Concept has an eDrive plug-in hybrid system combining an electric drive system with a high performance three-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine producing 349hp/300Nm, and acceleration of 0-62mph in under five seconds combined with 78mpg. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid drive, most daily journeys can be undertaken in zero-emission all-electric mode with an electric range of approximately 20 miles. The 2+2 seater provides enough space for four people.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) based on the drivetrain of the BMW i8 concept car, with fuel economy of 113mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 60g/km. The Concept Active Tourer combines a new transversely mounted 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine mounted at the front, with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. The electric motor is capable of driving the Concept Active Tourer for almost 20 miles on battery power alone.
The current BMW 3 Series is quite simply one of the best cars you can buy, combining efficiency with a great driving experience. The 3 Series GT promises the same 3 Series qualities, but with a hatchback option for people who don’t want a saloon or an estate.
The Renault Zoe is one of the most eagerly anticipated green cars of the year – it’s a full electric supermini priced at only £13,650 after the UK Plug-in Car Grant deduction – plus a monthly battery lease .
If you want an electric car that’s even more nippy than the Renault Zoe, then the Renault Twizy should fit the bill. Starting at just £6,690 plus battery lease.
If you want a supermini without the range anxiety of an electric car then the new Renault Clio should be near the top of your list. It looks good and is great to drive – with emissions from just 83g/km CO2 for the diesel model.
Renault desperately needs to get in on the ‘urban crossover’ market and so the Captur is the company’s response, with emissions from 96g/km CO2.
Peugeot also needs to get in on the compact SUV market and so the 2008 is designed to meet this requirement. It will have an engine line-up including an e-HDi diesel and new 3-cylinder petrol units, with emissions from just 99g/km CO2.
There’s been talk about air-powered cars for a number of years now but Peugeot is the first to show a working concept that could be on sale soon. The Peugeot 2008 HYbrid Air combines petrol with compressed air and this technology has the potential for achieving 140mpg.
Of course whatever Peugeot does, there’s a good chance that Citroen is also doing something similar. A Citroen C3 HybridAir prototype also showcased HybridAir technology, delivering fuel economy of 97mpg.
A number of manufacturers have shown small urban transport concepts over recent years, here’s one from Toyota. The all-electric, three-wheeled Toyota i-ROAD personal mobility vehicle (PMV) seats two in tandem and under cover and has a range of up to 30 miles on a single charge. Using ‘Active Lean’ technology, Toyota says it is safe, intuitive and enjoyable to drive, with no need for driver or passenger to wear a helmet.
The Toyota Auris Tourer is the first estate car to be available with a hybrid option, offering emissions from just 85g/km CO2, and it will be built in Britain.
The Toyota GT86 was the joint winner of our Car of the Year 2012 award for offering class-leading levels of economy relative to its amazing driving experience. Now Toyota has come up with a drop-top FT-86 – the company says the Concept has been created to gauge reaction to the possible development of a cabriolet version of the GT86 sports coupe, but we’re pretty sure it will be on sale before long.
There’s a new Toyota RAV4 , and it promises good levels of efficiency for what is a capable off-road car, with CO2 emissions from a new low of 127g/km – band D for road tax (VED) – for the new 2.0-litre D-4D diesel (two-wheel drive model).
The NSX Concept makes use of lightweight materials and a mid-mounted V6 engine and employs several new technologies, including a new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) hybrid system.
One of the best-looking surprises on show at Geneva was the Honda Civic Tourer Concept. The Civic hatch isn’t a particularly great-looking car, but the addition of an estate body makes it look much better. Mated to Honda’s new 1.6-litre diesel engine it should also be efficient.
The new CRV is now on sale. It looks less ungainly than the previous model, but any car in the SUV sector is going to struggle in the looks department since the launch of the Range Rover Evoque. It will be available with Honda’s new 1.6-litre diesel engine, resulting in emissions of just 119g/km CO2 (in two-wheel drive form).
The all-electric Nissan LEAF has received some revisions – including a longer range, which has increased from 109 to 124 miles. It will also be built in the UK from this spring.
There’s also a new, sleeker Nissan Note , which promises emissions from just 95g/km CO2.
The Nissan Resonance Crossover Concept is said to show the design direction for the next Qashqai. It also has a hybrid electric drivetrain.
Hydrogen as a transport fuel has been 10 years away for as long as anyone can remember, but now it may be becoming a reality at last. The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle is now in production, and other companies are developing commercially viable fuel cell technology – so all we need now is a supply of sustainable hydrogen
The new Lexus IS 300h , making its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show, has a 2.5-litre full hybrid powertrain with CO2 emissions from 99g/km (achieved by the IS 300h SE model, fitted with 16-inch wheels).
The Lexus LF-LC is a 2+2 hybrid sports coupe concept. It’s being considered for production
Despite the Kia sign over the car, and the headlights that look they’ve come from a Kia Cee’d, this is the new Infiniti Q50 and it features a hybrid drivetrain. Both Lexus and Infiniti seem to be adorning cars that have a basically attractive design with body kit details that make a car of this class look too fussy.
The new Mazda6 uses a highly optimised conventional powertrain rather than hybrid technology to deliver class-leading fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. It also looks good.
The Mitsubishi Outlander has now been launched in the UK, but the Plug-in Hybrid version doesn’t arrive for a few months yet. Impressive official economy figures, it’s just a shame that the Outlander looks so bland – especially next to an Evoque.
Whereas the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is a petrol-electric hybrid, the Mitsubishi Concept GR-HEV is a diesel-electric hybrid, making it more suitable for commercial use. It’s aiming for CO2 emissions below 149 g/km.
Small SUVs are currently a popular vehicle for manufacturers to bring to market, and the EcoSport is Ford’s effort. We’re sitting next to one whilst writing this at the Geneva Motor Show and we must admit we’re not too sure about the styling – for an SUV, albeit a mini-SUV, the body looks too tall and narrow, and the wheels look too small. Anyway, it should be efficient
This is Fiat’s take on the small SUV concept – and like the Ford EcoSport, it has a small, efficient engine, making it one of the most economical 4x4s that you can buy.
We’ve covered the Volvo V60 Plug-in diesel hybrid over its entire development, and it’s now in production. It officially returns 150mpg, but that’s only going to happen in real life if your driving matches the NEDC test cycle every time that you drive it.
After many years in development and undergoing trials, you can now, finally, buy a smart fortwo electric drive. With its diminutive size combined with a zero emission electric powertrain, it’s surely the ideal means of transport for cites such as London.
The Fisker Karma range-extended electric saloon has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator when the lithium-ion battery pack that drives a pair of rear-mounted electric motors runs out of charge. Total power is 397bhp with 959 lb ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0-60mph in 6.3sec with a top speed of 125mph, while emitting just 53g/km CO2.
Last but not least, the concept of an electric Land Rover Defender may seem somewhat bizarre, but there are certain organisations ranging from the military to safari operators that would welcome such a silent off-road vehicle. Don’t place your order yet as it’s just a development vehicle at the moment.