Greenest of the green
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.