New green cars for 2012 - part three

6 January 2012

A torrent of new cars is due to flood our roads during 2012. Here are some of the new models we can look forward to that will each offer better than average fuel economy.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read part one and part two of the GreenMotor 2012 new-car roundup.

Peugeot 208 in two body styles

Peugeot 208 – spring

Peugeot has set out to right the hideous wrongs of the outgoing 207 with its replacement, unsurprisingly dubbed 208, which is due this spring. Thankfully, this one doesn’t look like a beached basking shark. Equally importantly, the car is lighter and better packaged. On average each model is 110kg lighter than its predecessor, a hand-span shorter and a smidge lower, yet still provides superior room for knees and luggage alike.

As a result, CO2 emissions will be 34g/km lower on average across the range. At launch there will be five diesel models, four boasting stop-start, and all turning in CO2 scores between 87g/km and 99g/km. There will also be a three-cylinder petrol promising 99g/km and 65.7mpg.

The three-door and five-door bodyshells are now quite distinct. A blade-shaped crease cuts across the side of the three-door, slicing forward from the rear lamps, whipping down through the front door and zipping back toward the rear hubs. On the five-door, a muscular rear haunch is paired with an upward-kinked crease at shin height. Both body styles share the same rather busy face, but at least it doesn’t look like a gasping fish.

Also due in 2012: The facelifted 107 city car lands in February, with a lightly modified 99g/km petrol engine that will open the velvet ropes to the London Congestion zone. Its Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo clone brothers follow shortly thereafter with similar updates. Meanwhile two Peugeot Hybrid4 models will arrive during the year, the 3008 hybrid early in the first quarter and the 508 diesel-electric saloon in July.

Three Renault EVs

Renault Fluence ZE and Twizy – April
Renault Zoe – August

Fewer than 1,100 electric cars were sold last year under the government’s plug-in car grant, a low take-up that can be attributed to wide range of factors, including high cost and lack of choice. Renault will attempt to ease both in April with the arrival of its Fluence electric saloon, which will undercut Nissan’s trailblazing Leaf by more than £8,000 with a base price of £17,850 after the £5,000 grant. Renault will then claw back a little of the difference with a £75 per month charge for leasing the big battery sandwiched into the boot.

It remains to be seen if electric cars will catch on at all, but Renault is making a double gamble with an entirely new class of vehicle in the cute and skinny shape of the Twizy. Open to the elements and with tandem seating for two, Twizy will bridge the gap between cars and scooters when it arrives in April. It could provide perfect urban transport. Or, alternatively, a perfect opportunity for onlookers to point and snigger. It won’t qualify for a government handout, but starting at just £6,690 it shouldn’t need it. The battery lease will add a hefty £40 per month, however.

And finally Renault’s Zoe will bring an electric option to Europe’s enormously popular supermini sector when it arrives in August. Prices are yet to be revealed, as are tiny details like where Renault will hide its bulky battery.

Also due in 2012: An all-new Renault Clio, sharing much with the electric Zoe, should go on sale at the tail end of the year.

Yaris HSD Concept

Toyota Yaris HSD – June
Toyota Prius Plug-in – August

The hybrid version of Toyota’s latest Yaris supermini will reportedly undercut Honda’s Jazz hybrid by about £1,000 when it goes on sale in June, which ought to make it the UK’s most tempting small hybrid option.

The Yaris HSD will employ a revised version of the same Hybrid Synergy Drive components used in the larger Auris hybrid and much larger Prius, making it quick, reliable and capable – if a little on the porky side for such a small car. It should deliver a CO2 rating of around 85g/km, beating the 89g/km that’s the best the Auris hybrid can achieve on its skinniest tyre option

August’s Prius Plug-in, meanwhile, will move the game along with a new lithium-ion battery stowed in its rear. It will store enough of the sparky stuff to push the Prius along for 14 miles of electrical wafting, with the engine dormant until speed rises above 62mph (although you won’t do anything like 14 miles at 62mph). With an hour and a half of mains electricity stuffed under its belt it should ace the combined-cycle test with CO2 emissions of 49g/km and 134.5mpg fuel economy. The snag is a base price of around £31,000, or about £26,000 after the government’s grant for plug-in cars.

While the battery pack is new, the 98bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine and 80bhp electric motor carry over from the standard Prius, for a combined peak of 134bhp. The benchmark 62mph will arrive 13.7 seconds after you plant the throttle, assuming you can bear the CVT gearbox wailing in your ear.

Toyota Prius+ from the side

Toyota Prius+ – June

In June, Toyota will redeploy the running gear from the Plug-in Prius to power its new seven-seat hybrid, the Prius+, but it will dispense with the mains socket and charger. This will make the Prius+ the first Toyota hybrid without a flex to use lithium-ion cells. The battery’s compact size is the key, allowing the fitment of a second row of rear seats without the need for passengers to throw their legs over their shoulders.

To make room for the extra bench, the Prius+ has been stretched by 155mm compared with an ordinary five-seater Prius, with 80mm of the extra appearing between the wheels. The bodyshell is also 30mm wider, with a much longer roofline that’s 85mm higher than the standard car

Despite the extra size, the Prius+ should still sip through the official tests to record 65.7mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions – uncontested economy for a petrol car of this size.

VW Up from the side

VW Up! – March
Seat Mii - May
Skoda Citigo – June

A trio of new city cars will be rolled out by the Volkswagen group this spring, starting with VW’s Up!, which is already available to order ahead of the first deliveries in March.

Sister brands Seat and Skoda will offer their versions of the Up! starting in May and June, badged as the Mii and Citigo. Each will have a slightly different personality but all will be assembled in the same Slovakian factory. Only VW prices have been announced, starting at £7,995, but base prices for both Citigo and Mii are expected to be about £7,500.

All models will get the same engine, a 999cc three-cylinder petrol developing either 59bhp or 74bhp. Paired with a five-speed manual transmission this will yield official economy of 62.7mpg or 60.1mpg, and CO2 output of 105g/km or 108g/km respectively. Top speeds will be 99mph and 106mph for the two versions.

A BlueMotion edition of the VW will trim the CO2 figure to 97g/km, sufficient to dodge road tax and the London Congestion Charge, with combined-cycle economy of 67.2mpg. Skoda will get two GreenLine variants of the Citigo, one pegged at 97g/km and another at 99g/km.

Also due in 2012: Order books for the five-door version of the Up! should open soon, ahead of the first deliveries around the middle of the year.

Volvo V40 covered with a silk sheet

Volvo V40 – August

The shape hiding under the sheet looks like a boil-washed V60 but it’s actually the new Volvo V40.

Golf-sized or perhaps slightly bigger – think Lexus CT 200h – the new car will initially replace the C30 hatch, S40 saloon and V50 estate. A new saloon, coupe and XC40 off-roader are likely to follow in due course.

The sheet will be whipped away at the Geneva show in early March, with production models reaching showrooms around August.

Also due in 2012: Volvo’s impressive (and expensive) V60 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle will appear in limited numbers starting in November.

What car are you looking forward to most in 2012? Let us know via the comments, below...

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