These are the Top 20 Green Cars at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show – if you’re looking to buy a new car in the next 12 months then you should read this first, as these cars will either be on sale in the next year or will give an indication about what’s coming.
It may have been rolled out to motorshows in concept form for many years, but it’s now on sale and the BMW i8 still remains the most exciting green car prospect for the next 12 months. The i8 combines M3-like performance with the potential for more than 100mpg thanks to its plug-in capability and three-cylinder petrol engine. It costs around £100,000 and the first year of production has already been spoken for.
The BMW i3 has now been on sale for a while but it’s still the only electric car in this class to offer rear-wheel drive and the handling characteristics of a BMW. The i3 is available either as a pure electric car or with a small petrol range-extender engine which gives an additional range of around 80 miles. The i3 is very light thanks to being made from carbon fibre. It costs from £25,680, after the £5,000 government Plug-in Car Grant. Read our BMW i3 review.
While the BMW i3 and i8 break new ground for having plug-in electric power, the new 2 Series Active Tourer MPV breaks new ground by being front-wheel drive – in fact it’s BMW’s first ever front-wheel drive car. If this sounds worrying, it shouldn’t be – a survey showed that around 85% of BMW 1 Series owners didn’t know that their car was rear-wheel drive – which is worrying – but it means that potential buyers shouldn’t be turned off by the 2 Series being front-wheel drive. The 2 Series also features the brand’s first three-cylinder engine. The 150hp 218d will be capable of 68.9mpg and 109 g/km CO2. Even the petrol 218i can manage 57.6mpg and 115g/km CO2.
The new MINI builds on the strengths of the last model and addresses the weaknesses. This means it’s still fun to look at and to drive, but it now has an improved ride, it’s even more economical, and the interior ergonomics have been improved. There are new three-cylinder engines. The new MINI Cooper D Hatch comes with a three-cylinder diesel engine with an output of 114bhp – and combined economy of 80.7mpg on the EU test cycle. The new MINI will cost from £15,300 and will launch in spring 2014.
MINI showed the new Clubman Concept at Geneva. The previous Clubman was essentially a two-door estate, with half of a rear door on the driver’s side. The new Clubman looks altogether more sleek and sophisticated and should appeal to people wanting a five-door MINI hatch but who don’t want the higher-riding Countryman. Although this is a concept, it’s likely that it will make it into production in a very similar form.
The Tesla Model S is an all-electric luxury sports saloon with a 300-mile range, a 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 132mph. It also has seven seats, and it looks fantastic – including on the inside where the dashboard is dominated by a huge 17-inch diameter iPad-like touchscreen. The Model S comes with two battery options – 60 kWh and 85 kWh. Prices for the all-electric Tesla Model S luxury saloon in the UK start from £49,900 for the 60kWh model, after the £5,000 UK Plug-in Car Grant.
The Soul EV is Kia’s first all-electric car. It also gives the consumer more choice as it’s also the first funky urban compact MPV to go electric. The styling of the Soul EV has a somewhat eco feel to it compared to the regular petrol Soul. Kia says that the Soul EV is capable of a driving range of around 124 miles on a single charge. The Soul EV goes on sale in the UK later in 2014 and conservative sales numbers are forecast by Kia.
The Volkswagen XL1 returns 313 mpg along with emissions of just 24 g/km CO2. Powering the XL1 is a compact 800 cc TDI two-cylinder common rail diesel engine developing 48 PS. However it’s a plug-in hybrid, so it’s linked to an electric motor producing 27 PS, resulting in a total of 75 PS – in a car that weighs just 795kg. However – the XL1 is only being built in very limited numbers and despite costing around £100,000 each, they’ve all been spoken for. So the 188mpg Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid is probably a more important car. The Volkswagen Polo has also become more efficient. And there’s the new Scirocco…
Mercedes-Benz displayed the S500 Plug-in Hybrid at Geneva, which returns 94.2mpg along with 69g/km CO2 emissions. It can drive up to 18 miles on electric power alone. It joins the S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid L AMG Line and the S 400 Hybrid L. The 400 Hybrid L has a petrol engine, whereas the new S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid has a diesel – making it the first diesel hybrid engine in the segment. The S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid L AMG Line, with its 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine and 27hp electric motor, is capable of 61.4mpg and 120g/km CO2. Of course the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is also pretty efficient; the C220 BlueTEC returns 70.6mpg and 103g/km CO2, without any hybrid or plug-in hybrid capability.
One of our favourite cars of recent months has been the Mazda3, which looks great, drives brilliantly, and has an ergonomically excellent interior. So we’ve got high hopes for the Mazda ‘Hazumi’ which was on the company’s stand, which previews the next Mazda2. If Mazda can keep the appearance of the production car exactly as the show car then it will look fantastic. Add in Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies and it should also be efficient. And if it drives like a lighter weight Mazda3 then we can’t wait.
Volvo displayed a V40 at Geneva with 190hp and 85g/km CO2 emissions, which is a pretty amazing combination of figures. This is a result of the new two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains. The new engines also appear in the S60, where the S60 D4 with 181 hp and a manual gearbox emits just 99 g/km CO2, which equates to fuel consumption of 74.3 mpg. The Drive-E engines are also sufficiently compact to allow for a plug-in capability to be added.
The new Renault Twingo, with five doors and a rear engine, shares its platform with the next-generation two- and four-seat versions of the smart. The rear-engined layout – with a normally-aspirated or a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine – means extra space inside (the Twingo even still has a boot), and it also results in a smaller turning circle. With a wheel at each corner, Renault promises agile handling for the Twingo.
The Citroen C4 Cactus is all about being lightweight – in fact it weighs just 965kg, which is 200kg less than a Citroen C4. As a result, the Citroen C4 Cactus can achieve fuel economy of 91.1mpg and 82g/km CO2 with a diesel version, and can emit less than 100g/km CO2 with a petrol engine. The car’s styling features ‘Airbump’ panels on the side of the car which are designed to absorb impacts. The Citroen C4 Cactus is due to be on sale from October 2014.
The last Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo all looked pretty much the same regardless of which manufacturer they came from. That has now all changed, as each has an individual look. However the engines are shared, with a choice of four petrol three-cylinder power units, all of which emit less than 100g/km CO2. The vehicle as a whole weighs from just 840kg and is available with three or five doors. The C1/108/Aygo will be on sale in the UK in summer 2014.
The Peugeot 308 with its diesel 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120bhp engine will soon be available and it’s capable of an impressive 91mpg and just 82g/km CO2. This efficiency will be combined with the rest of the features of the Peugeot 308, ie. refinement, an interior that will appeal to people who like technology and minimalistic appearance, and an exterior that aims to compete with premium rivals.
The Peugeot 2008 Hybrid Air moves the efficiency game on from the Peugeot 308 BlueHDi as it combines the new generation of 3-cylinder petrol engines with compressed air, with this technology having the potential for achieving 140mpg. The compressed air will assist, or even take the place of, the petrol engine during the phases which consume the most energy, i.e. acceleration and moving off.
Toyota plans to launch the FCV Concept as a fuel cell vehicle in 2015. Fuel cell vehicles have a long cruising range and a short fuelling time. Hydrogen can be manufactured from solar, wind, and other natural energy sources however the hydrogen infrastructure needs to be developed. Toyota has been working on reducing the fuel cell system cost and therefore the retail price; the cost of the FCV’s fuel cell system will be 95 per cent lower than that of Toyota’s previous FCV, the FCHV-adv.
The Honda FCEV Concept points to the potential styling direction of Honda’s next-generation fuel cell electric vehicle which launches in the U.S. and Japan in 2015, followed by Europe. The FCEV will feature the world’s first application of a fuel-cell powertrain packaged completely in the engine bay of the vehicle. Power density has increased by 60 percent and the stack size has reduced by 33 percent compared to the current FCX Clarity. The FCEV is anticipated to deliver a driving range of approximately 430 miles.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV, it has official tailpipe emissions of just 44g/km CO2 and is capable of over 30 miles of range in pure EV mode. It uses a Twin Motor 4WD system comprised of independent electric motors to drive the front and rear wheels. An Outlander PHEV that completed the Asia Cross Country Rally was on show at Geneva.
The electric Nissan BladeGlider performance car concept is heavily influenced by the Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), which will make its debut at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race. It aims to combine lightweight engineering with excellent aerodynamics. The front track is just one metre wide. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances manoeuvrability for cornering power. The BladeGlider features in-wheel motors which provide rear-wheel drive.