TOPGEAR Top 9
Endorsed by Leo DiCaprio, this stunning low-slung 4dr saloon, paired two 160bhp e-motors with a 2.0-litre turbo range-extender. It drove nicely, but was beset by recalls, and folded after many were
wrecked by Hurricane Sandy.
SMART FORTWO CDi
Six years ago, the most economical
car money could buy was the diminutive Smart, compete with an 800cc, 3cyl diesel engine good for a claimed 3.3L/100km and 83g/km CO2. Great on a long run – but who
cruises continents in Smarts?
HONDA FCX CLARITY
The Clarity was, and is, a good car: quick to refuel, silent to drive, easy to use. But the issue of harvesting, storing and transporting hydrogen
in sufficient quantities has kept Honda’s – and everyone else’s – pioneers a cruelly niche interest.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF ECOMATIC
Long before stop-start became the norm, VW developed a non-turbo diesel MkIII Golf with a manual ’box and an auto clutch, so the engine
could decouple and switch off when cruising or stationary. Good,
but it was painfully slow.
Back in 1996, GM began a lease scheme of this 135bhp electric coupe in LA and Phoenix. The car was well-received but bean
counters, fearful of soaring maintenance costs, repossessed
and crushed all but 40.
From 1907 to 1939, Detroit Electric built 13,000 electric cars. OK, they only did 32kph, but they were ideal for cities, less smelly than a horse and even Henry Ford owned one. His cheaper Model T and the Great Depression killed off the company.
Oh, EVs, how far you’ve come. This
quadricycle attempted to take advantage of London Congestion
Charge exemption. But a 80-km range, golf-cart performance and appalling safety put paid to this
gawky electric runabout.
Oldsmobile’s oil-crisis-led gamble on diesel in the late Seventies had an anaemic 120bhp V8 that shared parts with smallblock petrol V8s. Watery fuel combining with weak components made them less reliable than a Trumpian tweet.
The all-aluminium, ultra-aero Audi A2 TDI was the first 5dr car capable of using under three litres of fuel to travel 100km (94.2mpg). But the sheer expense (£13–16k new in 2000) meant it lost the subcompact
war to the Mercedes A-Class.