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Emissions How Low is Low Enough

Today’s car buying and leasing customers give more consideration to how environmentally friendly a model is than ever before. Compared to just five years ago when environmental friendliness was in one survey1 ranked the 12th most influential factor, a recent study2 found the influence of emissions to rank in fifth place.

 With air pollution and public health statistics linked to vehicle emissions having come to the fore over the last year or so, the drive towards low emissions cars is understandable and encouraging. The question is, how low is low enough?

Are diesel engines still worth considering?

While questions have been posted over diesel in recent times, the latest ‘Euro 6’ engines fuelled by the black nozzle are the cleanest ever developed thanks to strides in various technologies and processes. Such ‘EU 6’ diesel powerplants typically emit less than a sixth of the levels of NOx that older diesel cars produce3. Cars meeting this uppermost European standard look set to be exempt4 from the ultra-low emissions zone that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is likely to introduce in 2019.

 A wide range of marques sold by Inchcape offer diesel models with emissions below the psychological barrier of 100g/km CO2, which signifies significant progress compared to only a few years ago. Models include the Toyota Auris 1.4D-4D Business Edition (92g), Volkswagen Passat saloon 1.6 TDI BlueMotion 120PS (95g), Audi A4 saloon 2.0 TDI ultra SE 150PS (99g), the MINI Hatch 1.5 One D 3-door (89g) and BMW 1 Series 116d ED Plus that also emits just 89g/km CO2.

Is petrol now quite economical and clean?

Petrol engines have also improved enormously in recent years, with many manufacturers ‘down-sizing’ and equipping their models with smaller capacity engines mated to a turbocharger, such as Audi shifting its feisty RS models from V8 to V6 power. A healthy range of petrol cars are available that emit under 100g/km CO2, such as the Audi A1 1.0 TFSI SE 95PS (97g), Toyota Yaris 1.0 VVT-I Active 5-door (99g) and the VW Up! 1.0 Take up! 60PS, which emits 96g/km of CO2.

The move towards zero emissions

When it comes to ‘how low is low enough?’, though, more and more drivers are seeking to own or lease cars offering even lower CO2 emissions, all the way down to zero. The Society of Manufacturers and Traders’ figures for September 2017 reveal that alternatively-fuelled vehicles, which mainly means hybrid and electric cars, have surged by 34.6% compared to the previous year and now account for an extra 2% of the market share5.

Environmentally-minded customers are embracing conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and pure electric or ‘zero emissions’ (ZE) cars because they not only reduce their immediate everyday impact on the environment, but they also offer a smooth, relaxing and quiet driving experience.Across the brands we work with, Inchcape’s customers have a wide range of ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEV) to consider.

Audi currently manufacturers the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid combining a 1.4 TFSI petrol engine with an electric motor, which can provide emissions-free all-electric motoring for up to 29 miles. It emits a mere 38g/km CO2 and fuel consumption is cited as upto 166.2mpg. The large Q7 SUV is also available in e-tron guise with a 3.0 TDI diesel engine working with a battery and electric motor to offer CO2 emissions as low as 48g/km and fuel economy of upto 156.9mpg.

BMW was the first to introduce an all-electric model to the premium compact market and its electric i3 is now better than ever, but the Bavarian firm’s desirable model range also includes a variety of hybrid models under the iPerformance badge. Choose from the practical 2 Series MPV, 3, 5 and 7 Series saloons, X5 SUV and i8 supercar, all in plug-in hybrid guise.

Jaguar will be launching its much-anticipated all-electric debut in the second half of 2018 in the form of the amazing I-PACE, set to combine zero emissions with stunning performance. Electric power responds instantly, translating in the I-PACE’s case to 400PS, a 0-60mph sprint time of around 4 seconds and instant torque of 700Nm.

Land Rover has recently unleashed a new PHEV version of its highly desirable Range Rover Sport model. With amazing credentials of 64g/km CO2 emissions and upto 101mpg, customers seeking the ultimate luxury SUV experience can now opt for the large Range Rover in plug-in hybrid form, too, with the same green figures almost contradicting its dimensions.

Lexus has long been synonymous with hybrid vehicles, remaining one of the leaders in the field. In fact, every single model in Lexus’ lineup can be specified as a hybrid, from the IS and GS saloons and NX and RX SUVs through to its sleek RC and LC coupes.

Mercedes is another prestige car brand than offers a comprehensive selection of plug-in hybrid vehicles under the eMobility banner, spanning from its beautiful C-Class and E-Class saloons and estates through to the GLE SUV and S-Class luxury saloon.

MINI, part of the BMW Group, now sells the practical and stylish Countryman as a plug-in hybrid variant, combining uprated power with four-wheel drive capability when the weather or road surfaces become challenging. Its emissions go as low as 49g/km while combined fuel economy is published as upto 134mpg making it economical for green-minded families.

Toyota boasts over 10 million hybrid-driving customers worldwide, which is unsurprising as it was one of the first to pioneer such green technology. Toyota customers are offered hybrid power from the small and classy Yaris, practical Auris and eye-catching C-HR to the RAV4 SUV and the firm’s iconic Prius, which leads Toyota’s offering in the emissions stakes from a mere 70g/km CO2, with fuel economy as high as 94.1mpg.

The Volkswagen range of electric and hybrid vehicles is also growing at an impressive rate, the e-Golf and Golf GTE proving popular along with the new Passat saloon and estate also in GTE guise. VW’s current emissions hero, though, is the e-Up!, which emits no CO2 at all.

For customers who desire to embrace cars with as low emissions as possible, plug-in hybrid and fully electric power are clearly the answers to explore and now is an exciting time with such a wide selection of such green vehicles available.


1. https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/fleet-management/the-top-12-consumer-car-buying-factors/36506/ 

2. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/t-charge-what-is-it-london-emissions-charge-how-affect-will-pay-congestion-car-diesel-a8014976.html

4. https://www.motoringresearch.com/advice/london-t-charge-toxicity/

5. https://www.smmt.co.uk/2017/10/demand-new-cars-declines-september-consumer-business-confidence-falls/