Hybrids have a bad rep. They’re inexplicably shaped like dinosaur eggs – closer to a Jetsons view of what a modern car should look like than any actual designers, one would assume – famed for sluggish performance, plagued by technology issues and challenged on their supply chain eco-credentials – after all, if the components have travelled the world seven times over to allow the car to be assembled in the first place, then how much difference to the environment does the ‘hybrid’ make?
Eco-friendly cars are often grim, hair-shirted things that you suffer as penance for your emissions, even though they pump out less CO2 than their standard brethren.
Which is why I think its fantastic – although depressingly late to market – that there’s a new wave of environmentally friendly cars rolling off production lines around the world – whether its ‘Greenline’ (Skoda), ‘Bluemotion’ (VW) or ‘EfficientDynamics’ (BMW), the (German, anyway) manufacturers have cottoned onto this eco-friendly thing and are rapidly revising their product line. Since 2007 or so these cars have been entering the market and whilst – in the used car market at least – they still command a premium over their standard rivals, they do provide a number of key benefits thanks to a number of cool bits of technology.
- Ludicrous mileage – over 80 MPG in some cases, which will top out older hybrids
- Tax-free, mostly, thanks to low emissions
- Some of the cars have even lower emissions than many hybrids
- (Relatively) normal handling – the car’s body mass index hasn’t been skewed by a heavy battery pack
The tech that gives it this awesome mileage:
- Stop/start tech. The engine switches off when the car rolls to a halt (say at a traffic light). For urban driving, this makes a big difference.
- Regenerative braking. The kinetic energy lost when the car brakes is captured, generally in the car battery, for later use.
- Sill extensions & other aerodynamic tweaks – help seal the car and reduce drag
- Engine refinements â€“ high torque diesel, usually
- Gear shift indicators â€“ to help you drive more ecofficiently
I’m looking for a possible replacement for Horse (our ageing 68 BHP Skoda Fabia) and am very tempted by one of these cars – specifically the Golf in the above review – but they cost much money. Anyone have any advice?