Green­est of the green

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car Of The Year - KARLA PIN­COTT

FOUR vastly dif­fer­ent green ma­chines are fight­ing for en­vi­ron­men­tal brag­ging rights in the 2010 cars­Guide Green Car of the Year con­test.

As com­pa­nies in­vest bil­lions in the push for sus­tain­able mo­tor­ing, the range of green ve­hi­cles is rapidly grow­ing. But af­ter long con­sid­er­a­tion and de­bate, the cars­Guide team has set­tled on four fi­nal­ists.

HOLDEN BA­RINA SPARK Ori­gin: Korea 1.2-litre petrol en­gine, 59kW/107Nm, 5.6 litres/100km, 128g/km CO2 , $12,490

THE baby Ba­rina price fighter leads a dou­ble-edged at­tack on the fastest grow­ing class in show­rooms.

Apart from its keen pric­ing, which pits it head to head with Nis­san’s new $12,990 Mi­cra, the Spark ticks the right fuel econ­omy boxes with a miserly 5.6 litres/100km, CO emis­sions of

2 128g/km, and it has a full com­ple­ment of six airbags.

Holden be­lieves the Spark will draw new con­quests to the brand, par­tic­u­larly young women. Un­for­tu­nately, the lack of an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion will di­min­ish its ap­peal with some buy­ers.

VOLK­SWA­GEN POLO DIESEL Ori­gin: South Africa 1.6-litre tur­bod­iesel, 66kW/230Nm, 4.7 litres/100km, 124g/km CO2 , $24,850

THE VW Polo has not done spec­tac­u­larly well in Aus­tralia, partly be­cause they were too costly and partly be­cause the pre­vi­ous mod­els were . . . well ... tinny lit­tle cars with­out much panache.

This lat­est fifth-gen­er­a­tion ver­sion changes ev­ery­thing, from solid clunk-to-close doors to im­pres­sive equip­ment lev­els, all while de­liv­er­ing se­ri­ous lev­els of driv­ing en­joy­ment.

VW says the new Polo’s econ­omy has im­proved by up to 24 per cent, with the tur­bod­iesel flag­ship ver­sion of the new Polo range a par­tic­u­larly punchy and well equipped lit­tle unit.

The down­side is its one of the more ex­pen­sive play­ers in this cat­e­gory, which could mit­i­gate against its chances as green ti­tle-holder.

TOY­OTA CAMRY HY­BRID Ori­gin: Aus­tralia 2.4-litre petrol en­gine and elec­tric drive mo­tor, 110kW/187Nm plus elec­tric drive, 6.0 litres/100km, 142g/km CO2 , $36,990

AUS­TRALIA’S first home­grown hy­brid, the Camry picks up the vast ma­jor­ity of its me­chan­i­cal pack­age from the third-gen­er­a­tion Prius, though it has a 2.4-litre en­gine (up from 1.8) and still has a drive belt for the wa­ter pump, un­like the Prius.

Like the pi­o­neer­ing Prius, the hy­brid Camry of­fers a fuel sav­ing stop-start func­tion and brake en­ergy re­cap­ture that recharges its bat­tery pack while on the move.

Toy­ota’s of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of 6litres/100km is 32 per cent more eco­nom­i­cal that the four-cylin­der Camry petrol ver­sion it sits along­side in show­rooms.

How­ever, the hy­brid costs a sub­stan­tial $3000 more than the mid-spec Camry Sportivo with which it shares many fea­tures.

HOLDEN E85 COM­MODORE VEII Ori­gin: Aus­tralia 3.0-litre V6 petrol, 190kW/290Nm, 9.1litres/100km, 216g/km CO2 , $39,990

THE biggest news in the re­cent VE Com­modore Se­ries II up­grade was un­doubt­edly Holden’s move to flex-fuel ca­pa­bil­ity avail­able with the 3.0-litre SIDI (spark ig­ni­tion di­rect in­jec­tion) V6 en­gine and the 6.0-litre V8.

Flex-fuel ca­pa­bil­ity al­lows the en­gine to run on a range of ethanol-blended fu­els up to E85 (85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol).

The launch of the new Com­modore was the main rea­son Cal­tex pushed hard on rolling out its E85 pumps across Aus­tralia.

But the ques­tion re­mains as to whether the Aus­tralian con­sumer will move as hard on tak­ing up the greener fuel.

It’s also dis­ap­point­ing that E85 com­pat­i­bil­ity isn’t of­fered on the larger and more pop­u­lar 3.6-litre V6.

Cheap ride: the Ba­rina Spark is a fuel miser, us­ing just 5.6 litres/100km.

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