TALE OF THE TAILPIPE

Stricter emis­sions rules over­seas will bring ever-cleaner tech to Aus­tralia

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

Fuel prices are at record highs. Mo­torists are threat­en­ing to boy­cott petrol sta­tions. Is it time to up­date to a more fuel-ef­fi­cient car? We will soon have a much big­ger choice of what pow­ers our ve­hi­cles. Car brands are build­ing more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ve­hi­cles in re­sponse to stricter emis­sions reg­u­la­tions over­seas and those cars even­tu­ally will come here.

New tech­nol­ogy has given petrol and diesel an ex­tra lease of life and more brands are adding hy­brid, plug-in hy­brid and pure elec­tric cars. Then there’s what many be­lieve to be the end game: hy­dro­gen.

Here’s what’s avail­able now — and what’s around the cor­ner.

TURBOCHARGING

Tur­bos have be­come pop­u­lar be­cause mak­ers can fit smaller, more ef­fi­cient en­gines with­out sac­ri­fic­ing per­for­mance. Euro­pean brands led the way and Ja­pan and the US fol­lowed suit. The VW Polo and Golf are prime ex­am­ples, with small ca­pac­ity turbo three and four-cylin­der power in lieu of big­ger non-turbo en­gines.

BMW shares a turbo three-cylin­der with Mini for its en­try level 3 Se­ries sedan.

Toy­ota in­tro­duced a small turbo four­cylin­der with its city SUV, the swoopy C-HR.

The Ford Es­cape and Holden Equinox mid­size SUVs are avail­able with 1.5-litre tur­bos and yet have as much oomph as larger, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated pre­de­ces­sors.

The best ex­am­ple of do­ing a lot with a lit­tle are large seven-seat SUVs such as the Mazda CX-9, which uses a turbo four — ri­vals use V6s — and the new Volvo XC90, with turbo and su­per­charged four-cylin­der.

More power from smaller en­gines, fru­gal when not driven hard.

Of­ten re­quire dearer, pre­mium fuel. Bet­ter suited to small cars.

TURBO DIESEL

Most com­monly, turbo diesels power large SUVs, 4WDs and dou­ble-cab utes. They make plenty of grunt at low revs, ideal for tow­ing and car­ry­ing heavy loads.

How­ever, they are not suited to fre­quent short trips in the city. Diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ters — nec­es­sary to clean tailpipe emis­sions — can clog if they don’t reg­u­larly stretch their legs and “burn off ” the residue.

Diesel is all but dead in pas­sen­ger cars thanks to gains in petrol en­gine tech­nol­ogy — and Diesel­gate. Porsche re­cently dropped diesel power for its new Cayenne SUV in favour of petrol-elec­tric plug-in hy­brid tech. Most lux­ury SUV ri­vals still use diesel.

Strong torque at low revs, good high­way fuel ef­fi­ciency, ideal for heavy loads or tow­ing.

Fu­ture tech­nol­ogy re­quired to re­duce diesel emis­sions adds com­plex­ity and cost.

HY­BRID

The Toy­ota Prius is the world’s best-known hy­brid car but petrol-elec­tric tech is on the verge of be­com­ing main­stream as the cost comes down. In ad­di­tion to three ded­i­cated Prius ver­sions, you can now buy hy­brid ver­sions of Toy­ota’s Corolla, Camry, and C-HR.

COVER STORY

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