There’s no denying it folks. We need to start being a whole lot nicer to this little blue planet we call home. The environmental damage we’re doing from heavy industry, animal agriculture and of course vehicle emissions has led no less a mind than Stephen Hawking to posit that we might have to consider relocating to the moon within 30 years.
While there are many little things that you can do to mitigate the damage that you and your family do to the environment, considering the ecological cost when buying a car is one of the most meaningful big things that you can do for the planet. The good news is that the industry is increasingly rising to the growing demand in green technology, with electric and hybrid engines, fuel additives,and new advances in construction materials all contributing to a slow but inexorable revolution in eco-friendly vehicles. Indeed, Volvo have recently pledged that all of their new vehicles will be entirely electric by 2019.
The bad news is that while a lot of this wonderful technology is much more affordable than it was a few years ago, much of it is still prohibitively expensive, even with government subsidies.
But wait, the news is still good!
While electric and hybrid engines are still on the pricey side there are still a great many affordable eco-friendly cars on the market that use a range of technologies to reduce your fuel consumption in ways which will benefit both your environment and your wallet.
Not only does the Ford EcoSport use a light-yet-durable boron steel to keep you safe while reducing fuel guzzling drag, it’s teardrop shape also improves the vehicle’s aerodynamics to reduce fuel consumption.
It’s a great city car on its own merit, too. The interior is designed to be optimally quiet in busy hours, while its traction control and Electronic Stability Control allow for smoother and more efficient cornering, reducing fuel wasting wheel spin as well and over and under steering.
Don’t let the unassuming 1.0L engine fool you, either. Its turbocharged EcoBoost technology can deliver full torque at 1,500 RPM delivering a surprising amount of power in an economically friendly 3 cylinder engine.
It might sound like a Yorkshire greeting, but the E-Up! represents an ideal marriage of performance and presentation, with comfort and convenience and the electric engine is, of course, the cherry on top.
While there are cheaper electric city cars on the market like the Citroen C-Zero and the Peugeot iOn on the market, they’re less enjoyable to drive. Volkswagen have been great at ensuring an enjoyable in-car experience for it’s bigger cars like the Polo, Golf and Jetta for some time now but it’s only recently that the smaller Up! has incorporated bluetooth stereo connectivity, and now CarNet (which exports the image from your phone screen to the dash-mounted ‘infotainment’ system).
It doesn’t compromise on performance either, with its instant torque and completely silent running. Combined with a variety of driving settings that enable you to emphasise performance or fuel economy depending on your journey, it all makes for a cool, fun and ecologically friendly city car.
Yes, it’s another 1.0L petrol engine, but not only does the Picanto have a history of award-winning low tailpipe emissions, it is also peerless in offering unassailable value for money. It is both road tax and congestion charge exempt and its five year/ 100,000 mile warranty is extremely helpful in helping the vehicle to retain its value.
Its compact size and good all-round visibility make it handy when it comes to cornering and parking, although performance nuts might feel the need to hammer the modest 3 cylinder engine, thereby eliminating the ecological benefits.
SMART fortwo coupe Electric Drive Prime Premium
Say what you will about SMART, they know their market. This all-electric version of the fortwo coupe offers the quirky looks you’d expect, combined with a mid-mounted, 80-hp electric motor that offers a theoretical mileage of 99 miles per charge.
Like most city cars, it performs best in its natural habitat, with its diminutive size and unbelievably small turning circle (22.8 feet) lending it unsurpassed cornering and parking. It’s no slouch in the power department either, going from 0-60 in an impressive 11.7 seconds. It’s impressive torque and light weight make it quick off the mark at the traffic lights and its petite,agile frame makes it perfect for maneuvering around the inevitable traffic jams and roadworks where bigger cars would have no choice but to sit and wait.
With the obvious caveat that this coupe isn’t going to flourish on long journeys or in rural areas, you’d be hard pressed to find a city car that offers more in terms of fun, customization and ecological friendliness.
This is more of a super-mini than a city car but the BMW i3 offers the craftsmanship that you’d expect from BMW. While the price tag is a little heftier than that of its contemporaries, the value for money that this car offers means that I couldn’t leave it off this list (it might represent even better value as a lease vehicle than as an outright purchase).
If you have a “go big or go home” approach to investing in an ecologically car then this really is one of the most innovative and well put together vehicles on the market.
It’s not only one of the most ecologically friendly cars out there, it’s also among the fastest and most agile, with instant torque and an acceleration of 0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds that leaves its competitors in the dust and a chassis made with state-of-the-art construction techniques and a combination of super lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium.
It’s battery life exceeds that of most vehicles in its class, offering an impressive realistic range of around 124 miles.
For the combination of battery efficiency, performance and understated good looks, it’s certainly worth the investment if you’re looking for something a little more ostentatious.