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Next Green Car Green Car of the Year 2008

Welcome to the What Green Car? Green Car of the Year Awards 2008 - the most thorough environmental analysis of 2008's new cars in the UK.

This year, for the first time, Next Green Car has used its rating system to award a Green Car of the Year to the greenest new car. Models are rated for environmental impact, CO2 emissions, price, running costs, design and reliability - features of growing concern to the majority of motorists.


And the 2008 Award winner is...

Ford Focus ECOnetic

Next Green Car's first Green Car of the Year Award 2008 goes to the Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic. The Focus has CO2 emissions of only 115g/km (65.6mpg on a combined test cycle) and, with a diesel particulate filter fitted as standard on the 110PS engine, a WGC? rating of only 33 - the lowest in its class and lower even than the bench-mark Prius hybrid (rated at 35).

The Ford Focus ECOnetic was chosen by an independent panel of six judges representing leading UK green transport and environmental organisations who agreed to select and judge the latest green cars on the UK market. From an initial list of 26 cars pre-selected using Next Green Car's own environmental ratings, the Focus was selected as the winner of the 2008 Award from a short-list of 10 cars, which also included the new NICE Mega City electric car, VW Polo BlueMotion, MINI Cooper D, Fiat Bravo ECO, VW Golf BlueMotion, Toyota Prius hybrid, and the BMW 118d and 318d saloons.

For more details about the models on the short-list, click here.


2008 Award overview

In drawing up this initial long-list, the following approach was adopted: All cars had to be commercially available to private and fleet consumers in the UK during 2008; after-market conversions were not eligible - all cars had to be be as sold by the OEM; flex-fuel cars were not eligible as the UK network of E85 fuelling stations numbers only 22; quadricycles were eligible for the Award; and cars from six vehicle classes formed the initial selection (city-cars, super-minis, small family, large family, MPV, executive).

To generate the short-list and decide on the Award winner, the following approach was adopted: Judges were invited to approve the long-list and select a short-list of 10 cars based on environmental and other factors; six selected short-listed cars were made available for a day's test-drives by the judges. The final round test drives and judging was held in London on 13th June; and judges were asked to agree by consensus (or majority) which car should be awarded the Next Green Car Car of the Year 2008.


2008 Award judging panel

A panel representing some of the UK's leading green transport and environmental experts agreed to select and judge the greenest cars on the market. The judging was independent of the motor industry and aimed to provide consumers with an objective analysis of 2008's new cars to make it simpler for consumers to choose a green, low-cost car.

The Green Car of the Year 2008 judges were:

  • Jessica Aldred, Deputy Editor, guardian.co.uk/environment
  • Andrew Davis, Director, Environmental Transport Association
  • Johnny Goldstone, Co-founder, Greentomatocars
  • Nigel Underdown, Head of Advice for Transport, Energy Saving Trust
  • Neil Wallis, Head of Communications, Low carbon Vehicle Partnership
  • Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor, Next Green Car


Short-list for the Green Car of the Year 2008

New NICE Mega City Citycar: NICE Mega City - WGC? rating: 6, CO2: 0 g/km
On the surface, the Mega City electric vehicle looks like any other small city car. Apart from the almost silent running, most people wouldn't know that there wasn't an internal combustion engine under the bonnet. With a top speed of 40 mph and range of only around 50 miles, the Mega may not compare well with conventional cars for driving performance, but as one of the greenest 4-wheelers available in the UK its green credentials are unbeatable. Built with an aluminium frame clad in ABS plastic and glass, the Mega is also fully recyclable. The car comes in a two-seat/large load bay or four-seat configuration. Twelve lead-acid batteries installed beneath the front seats power a 4kW (5.4 hp) motor housed under the bonnet, driving the front wheels. A full recharge takes eight hours, but the batteries respond well to frequent top-up recharging. Priced from £10,498 - with fuel costs of around 2p per mile (roughly 5 times cheaper than the fuel costs of similarly sized petrol cars). Links: NICE , BusinessGreen, YouTube.

VW Polo BlueMotion Supermini: VW Polo 1.4 BlueMotion 1 - WGC? rating: 29, CO2: 99 g/km
The first model to be launched under its BlueMotion badge, VW the Polo BlueMotion 1 is in essence a stripped-down version of the standard diesel model (no air conditioning or central locking etc) and is fitted with a 1.4-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel engine. To reduce environmental impact, the a particulate filter and improved oxidation catalytic converter have been fitted. The gearbox has also been given longer ratios to maximise fuel consumption remains even at motorway speeds. The aerodynamics have also been improved through the use of a new smooth grille and revised front spoiler, smaller door mirrors, subtle side skirts and a rear boot spoiler to reduce drag. The model is also fitted with lower rolling resistance tyres mounted on specially designed alloy wheels. The result is very impressive combined test fuel economy (74. 3 mpg) and carbon emissions of only 99 g/km, which makes the Polo BlueMotion 1 road tax free. However, the 78 bhp unit will still give 110mph and a 0-62mph time of 12.8 seconds. From £12,120. Links: CarPages, YouTube.

MINI Cooper D Supermini: MINI Cooper D - WGC? rating: 30, CO2: 104 g/km
The low emission MINI Cooper D 108bhp 1.6litre diesel. The revised model is now capable of an impressive 72.4mpg with CO2 emissions of only 104g/km. With a WGC? environmental rating of only 30, this makes it one of the cleanest UK super-minis. The Cooper D's high fuel economy is achieved in part by the use of Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC), a regenerative braking system that recharges the battery on braking and deceleration. The engine also includes an auto start-stop function that switches the engine off when the vehicle is stationary and the driver puts the car into neutral - engaging the clutch restarts the engine. The new model also includes a Switch Point Display that recommends to the driver when to change gear to maximise fuel economy. These new technological modifications to improve fuel efficiency are being rolled out across all the MINI model variants - the result is a 6.5% fuel economy improvement for the MINI One, 6.9% for the Cooper, 10.3% for the Cooper S and 12.8% for the Cooper D as compared to previous models. From £14,420. Links: MINI, CarPages.

FORD Focus 1.6 ECOnetic Family: FORD Focus 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic - WGC? rating 33, CO2: 115 g/km
The Focus is the first model in the diesel ECOnetic range, the name Ford has given to its new range of low CO2 models that will be rolled out to the Mondeo later this year and the Fiesta in 2009. The engineering behind ECOnetic includes recalibrated engine management and power steering system, and an improved aero-profile (the car is almost 1 cm closer to the ground compared with a regular Focus, has a lower grille and new front bumper skirt, a rear spoiler and slimmer tyres). Interestingly the emissions improvements are achieved without fitting longer gear ratios (as adopted by the VW BlueMotion and BMW EfficientDynamics models). The results of these changes for the Focus ECOnetic 109PS is CO2 emissions of only 115g/km (65.6mpg on a combined test cycle) and a WGC? rating lower than the bench-mark Prius hybrid. Priced from £16,545 (about £250 above the Style model with the same engine), the Focus ECOnetic slots into the Focus range between the Studio/Style versions and top end Zetec/Titanium models. Links: Ford, CarPages.

Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Family: VW Golf BlueMotion TDI - WGC? rating 34, CO2: 119g/km
After the Polo, Passat Saloon and Passat Estate, the Golf is the fourth in the VW line-up to wear the BlueMotion badge, identifying it as the most economical model in the range. The TDI's 77 kW / 105 PS diesel engine provides a hefty 250 Nm of torque and the car requires just 4.5 litres fuel per 100 km (62.8 mpg combined, CO2 119 g/km), a full 0.6 litres per 100 km less than the original model (55.3 mpg, CO2 135 g/km). In common with others in the BlueMotion range, the emissions improvements have been achieved by the use of a recalibrated engine management system that reduces idling speed, a particulate filter, longer gear ratios, improved aerodynamic design, and low rolling resistance tyres. The top speed is electronically limited 118 mph. From £15,565. Links: Volkswagen, CarPages.

Fiat Bravo ECO Family: Fiat Bravo 1.6 Multijet ECO - WGC? rating 34, CO2: 119g/km
Available in either 105 bhp or 118 bhp variants, the 1.6-litre direct injection common rail unit is a development of the 1.9-litre engine created under a partnership with General Motors. While the more powerful version directly replaces the 1.9-litre 8v diesel with the same power output, it's the 105 bhp engine that is used across the majority of the Bravo diesel range. Although the new ECO model shares the same power unit, it has longer gearing and an ECU set for low CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km (62.7 mpg combined). Although not quite Euro 5 compliant, with a WGC? rating of just 34, this diesel just beats the Prius hybrid for overall environmental impact. From £14,150. Links: CarPages, Fiat.

 BMW 118d Saloon Family: BMW 118d Saloon - WGC? rating: 34, CO2: 119 g/km
The 118d earns its green badge by adopting BMW's EfficientDynamics technology package aimed at cutting emissions while maintaining performance. For the 118d, this includes a new optimised four-cylinder common-rail diesel engines, regenerative brakes that reduce fuel consumption by up to 7% (the 118d is the first model in the BMW range to use this technology), and an Auto Stop Start Function which cuts out the engine when in neutral. Together with an 'optimum shift point indicator' (better known as an 'econometer'), these innovations result in increased output, reduced fuel consumption, and vastly lowered CO2 emissions. For the 143 bhp 118d, CO2 emissions are among the best-in-class at 119 g/km CO2 (62.8 mpg combined test), while performance is an impressive 0 to 100 km/h in 8.9. The EfficientDynamics technology employed by the 118d led in March this year to the car being declared the 2008 World Green Car. From £18,350. Links: CarPages, EfficientDynamics, YouTube.

 Toyota Prius Family: Toyota Prius - WGC? rating: 35, CO2: 104
There isn't much that hasn't been said about the Prius, the world�s first and bestselling commercial hybrid car. Since its launch in 1997, the Prius has collected rave reviews and a loyal customer base - and has recently (last month) clocked up its 1 millionth global sale. With the current model (the Mark II) Toyota has extended its market lead for hybrids, leaving most of its competitors behind. Indeed it plans to hybridise its complete car range, and also will launch a new Prius model sometime next year. As you may already know, hybrids work by using a temporary energy storage device (usually a battery), which enables the engine to be operated at close to its maximum efficiency. For the Prius this means CO2 emissions of only 104 g/km, a test fuel economy of 65.7 mpg (combined), and a very respectable 0 to 62 mph in 10.9 seconds (max Speed 106 mph). From £17,780. Links: CarPages, YouTube.

 BMW 318d Saloon Executive: BMW 318d Saloon - WGC? rating: 35, CO2: 123 g/km
The 318d earns its green badge by adopting the latest BMW EfficientDynamics technology package aimed at cutting emissions while maintaining performance. BMW's approach, to be rolled out on all 2008 model-year cars, includes new optimised four-cylinder diesel engines (using the latest common-rail systems), regenerative brakes that reduce fuel consumption by up to 7% (first revealed on the entry level 1-series earlier this year) and a stop-start function that cuts the engine when in neutral. Together with an 'optimum shift point indicator' (aka an 'econometer'), these innovations result in increased output, fuel consumption that�s reduced by up to 17 per cent, and vastly lowered CO2 emissions. As a result, the 2008 BMW line-up now boasts 22 models that achieve over 48mpg while emitting 140g/km or less of CO2. For the 90 kW (105 hp) 318d, CO2 emissions are a best-in-class 123 g/km CO2 (60.1 mpg combined test), overall environmental impact is on a par with the Prius hybrid (WGC? rating of 35), while performance is an impressive 0 to 100 km/h in 9.3. From £23,870. Links: CarPages, EfficientDynamics, YouTube.

Volkswagen Golf Plus BlueMotion MPV: VW Golf Plus BlueMotion TDI - WGC? rating 36 (est), CO2: 127g/km
The Golf Plus is the most recent model to join the BlueMotion line-up (following the Passat and Golf earlier this year). The TDI's 105 PS diesel engine provides a hefty 250 Nm of torque and the car achieves one of the best-in-class fuel economies of 58.9 mpg test combined. In common with others in the BlueMotion range, the emissions improvements have been achieved by the use of a recalibrated engine management system that reduces idling speed, a particulate filter, longer gear ratios, improved aerodynamic design, and low rolling resistance tyres. From £16,775. Links: Volkswagen.

Note: Short-list revised 12 June 2008


And one more for the road...

While it didn't make the 2008 short-list, the judges also liked the new Smart fortwo mhd.

Smart mhd Citycar: SMART fortwo mhd - WGC? rating 28 (est), CO2: 103 g/km
Due for launch in October this year, the fortwo mhd (mild hybrid drive) uses the new 999cc, three cylinder petrol engine providing 71bhp (max speed 91 mph, 0-62 mph in 13.3 seconds). The 'mild hybrid' drive refers to the use of a belt driven generator that supplies the car's electrical system and doubles up as a starter motor. Though not a hybrid in the true sense, the engine features a stop-start function which cuts out the engine when the vehicle's speeds is below 5 mph and the brake pedal is operated - the engine automatically re-starts once the brake pedal is released. The impact of this relatively simple technology is to reduce CO2 emissions by 8% as compared to its non-mhd petrol equivalent (from 112g/km to 103g/km). This equates to a test fuel economy of around 65.1 mpg (combined). Price tbc (estimated from £8,500). Links: SmartNews, YouTube.

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