by Lem Bingley
It’s nearly over, but 2013 has a been a vintage year for low-CO2 motoring, with a host of new arrivals of all shapes and sizes – capped off late in the year by the most tempting electric cars yet seen in the UK, in the form of the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S.
There’s no sign of any slack in 2014’s schedule, with lots of interesting and economical new cars already in the pipeline. Incoming options range from affordable new city cars to the kind of upmarket green vehicle likely to require some deep digging among the deals at Car Finance 247 to procure.
Here are some of the highlights worth saving up for...
Audi A3 e-tron
Due in the UK in the summer, Audi’s e-tron A3 Sportback is a plug-in hybrid, pairing a 1.4-litre 148bhp petrol engine with a 75kW (101bhp) electric motor and 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery. With a combined peak of just over 200bhp on tap it should be no slouch. And wrapped in the current A3 five-door bodywork it should remain utterly anonymous, given that it looks exactly like every other Audi, old or new, large or small.
BMW 2-Series MPV
Next year will see BMW’s smallest 2-door coupés shifted out of the 1-Series and into a new 2-Series range, where they will join the first front-wheel-drive cars to carry the blue-and-white roundel. The 2-Series Active Tourer, due early next year, has been previewed by a pair of concept cars that clearly aren’t wild flights of designer fancy. While the show cars have been plug-in hybrids, the production car seems likely to arrive with more conventional propulsion. Borrowing engines and gearboxes from the new Mini range should help the 2-Series compact MPV provide the urge we expect from a Beemer combined with a decent bit of thrift.
There’s also the small matter of the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car to look forward to.
Towards the end of the year Ford will launch its fifth generation Mondeo, which continues the blue oval’s current squint-hard-and-it’s-an-Aston styling theme. Design aside, the new Mondeo will be significant for becoming the largest car in the line-up to be powered by Ford’s tiny but titanic 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. All three cylinders will need to work pretty hard to lug around a full-size saloon, but should produce a CO2 score below 130g/km. A 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid edition of the Mondeo is also on the way, which ought to undercut the above CO2 rating by quite a margin.
An all-new C-Class is due to land in the summer. It has been shaved of 100kg, and honed down to a wind-cheating drag factor of just 0.24 – cleaner even than the tear-drop Toyota Prius. The C220 BlueTec will be the leanest of the initial three-engine range, with a combined cycle economy rating of 70.6mpg and 103g/km in CO2 terms – down from a best of 109g/km in the outgoing model. With peak power of 170bhp and a ripping 400Nm of torque, the C220 will gallop to 62mph in 8.1 seconds. A more modest 115bhp 1.6-litre diesel will join the range later in the year, which should take the CO2 label under 95g/km, bringing with it various company-car tax advantages. While the new C-Class exterior holds few surprises – wide-mouthed grille aside – apparently the interior brings an unexpectedly big leap upwards in quality.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mitsubishi was a pioneer of electric motoring with its egg-shaped i-Miev (which transmogrified into the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero too). Now it is set to blaze another trail with the first full-size 4x4 to come with a plug. Not a pure EV this time, the plug-in hybrid Outlander is due to arrive in the UK in March with a price tag of around £30,000 after the Plug-in Car Grant. The car’s 12kWh battery helps it achieve an official CO2 rating of just 44g/km, and will also provide an electric-only range of around 32 miles.
Nissan possibly surprised even itself with the rapturous success of the first Qashqai, and the all-new second generation looks like a relative cautious evolution of the same format. We’ll be reviewing it in mid-January, the same month it goes on sale in the UK. The most thrifty model in the opening line-up will be the 108bhp 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel, rated at 74.3mpg and just 99g/km.
The new 308 arrives in January, carrying rather less weight of expectation than the revamped Qashqai. The new Pug borrows the interior innovations of its little brother 208, with a miniaturised steering wheel, high-set instruments and touch-screen controls. Externally, however, it owes a greater debt to German thinking, with a strong nod to the Golf in its stance, proportions and overall demeanour. Which is a good thing, given the prior 308’s resemblance to a goggle-eyed creature from the deep. The most economical new 308 option will be the 115bhp e-HDi, rated at 95g/km.
VW e-Up and e-Golf
Electric editions of Volkswagen’s city car and evergreen hatchback are due in 2014. We’ll be testing an early example of the e-Up in the first weeks of the new year, with the first UK deliveries due at the end of January. The e-Golf is due to follow later in the year. The e-Up went on sale in early December priced at a bracing £19,250 after the £5,000 reduction of the Plug-in Car Grant. At that price it will need to be really very good indeed to outcompete existing options in the fledgling electric car market, where there are now EVs from the likes of Renault and Smart that look a lot more financially persuasive.
New green cars for 2014
17 December 2013
by Lem Bingley