What Car? Green Awards 2011 - Executive cars

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Slash company car tax bills but retain all of the kudos.

Winner
BMW 3 Series 318d ES

Last year we gave this award to the lowest CO2-emitting 3 Series of them all, the 320d Efficient Dynamics. This time around we’ve gone for a version that emits slightly more carbon dioxide.

This is because CO2 isn’t the only emission that cars produce, and the 320d ED produces twice as many harmful particulates as the newer 318d. What’s more, although these awards major heavily on green credentials, they don’t completely overlook other important factors, such as driveability and price.

The 318d is more than £2500 cheaper to buy than the 320d ED, and is far better to drive because it isn’t hampered by such frustratingly long gearing.

Crucially, though, with CO2 emissions of 119g/km, the 318d still qualifies for the lowest band of company car tax for diesel cars of 13%. It can also average 62.8mpg, and if you’re a private buyer you’ll pay just £30 a year for a tax disc.

Green Awards or not, the BMW 3 Series heads its class in almost every single area, and absolutely trounces the opposition on the road. The 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine pulls strongly and there’s a smooth flow of power all the way to the redline. The body is perfectly controlled, which means the 318d has excellent poise through corners. It grips strongly, too, while the steering is precise with plenty of feedback.

The suspension is fairly firm, but it’s always comfortable, even on bumpy and coarse surfaces.

We’d recommend sticking with entry-level ES trim. It keeps the price down, and you get stability control, six airbags, air-con, alloys and electric windows.


BMW 5 Series
520d SE
Price £29,430
Target Price £27,395
CO2 129g/km NOx 0.131g/km
Particulate emissions 0.32mg/km
Average economy 57.6mpg
Mercedes-Benz CLS
250 CDI Blue Efficiency
Price £46,360
Target Price £44,119
CO2 135g/km NOx 0.146g/km
Particulate emissions 0.16mg/km
Average economy 54.3mpg

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