What Car? Green Awards 2009 - MPVs

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Best buy: Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi SX EGS
Saving cash, rather than the planet, is the priority for almost 70% of car buyers, if a recent poll on whatcar.com is anything to go by.

What's great about choosing a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso is that you can help do both without compromising on the quality of the car you're buying.

Ace of Space
The Grand C4 Picasso is our current MPV of the year, and that means it's had to fight off some seriously good opposition. Not only that, it's held this title for three years in a row, which is no mean feat.

What earned it such accolades? Space, for starters – and plenty of it. There's enough room inside for seven people to sit in comfort, because the Picasso's seats are particularly accommodating and offer generous head- and legroom. Large doors make it easy to get children or child seats in and out of the cabin, and access to the rearmost seats is also easy, thanks to a middle row that slides and folds out of the way.

Those rear seats also tumble forward quickly and easily to give you an enormous boot with a low, flat floor that really boosts the Picasso's versatility. In truth, it's just as well it does, because the boot is small with all seven seats in place, but that's a common problem in many MPVs this size.

Then there are the Picasso's easy-going driving characteristics. Sure, there are sharper-driving MPVs out there (the Ford S-Max, for example), but for long-haul comfort and ease of manoeuvring around town, there's nothing to beat a Grand C4 Picasso. Its fine high-speed ride, class-leading refinement and light steering make it comfortable for all the family all of the time.

Power with less pollution
The Picasso is gifted in other areas, too, not least its 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine. In fact, it's this brilliantly flexible turbodiesel that gives the car the three cornerstones of its success – economy, strength and low emissions.

It's got enough pull to carry seven people and their luggage comfortably, it remains efficient at all times – you'll get 53.3mpg on average – and it puffs out a truly impressive 140g/km of carbon dioxide. For a car this size, that's a terrific achievement and one that Citroën should rightly be very proud of. More practically, those low emissions mean it falls into Band E (£120) for road tax, lower than many rivals.

Ultimately, carbon emissions are the greatest measure of a car's eco-credentials. In this respect, no other seven-seat MPV comes close, and that – as well as its brilliant practicality, comfortable ride and low running costs – makes it our Green MPV of the Year.

Buying used:
Early Grand C4 Picassos now cost as little as £7500, or six-month-old models from £11,000, saving you thousands on the list price. There are just a few things to look out for: problems with the power steering and gearbox have been reported, as well as bits of trim breaking or coming loose.

Green car fact file

Best buy up to £14,000
Citroën C3 Picasso 1.6 VTi VTR+
Price: £13,345
Target Price: £12,859
CO2: 159g/km
NOx: 0.031g/km
Particulate emissions: na
Average fuel economy: 40.9mpg
Green verdict: It's the best real-world small MPV around – it's clean and efficient for a petrol, as well as being practical and affordable

Best buy £14,000-£18,000
Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D T2
Price: £17,945
Target Price: £16,890
CO2: 143g/km
NOx: 0.21g/km
Particulate emissions: 0.014g/km
Average fuel economy: 51.4mpg
Green verdict: With low CO2 emissions, brilliant fuel economy and a practical cabin, the Verso is an MPV for families with an eco-conscience

Best buy over £18,000
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi SX EGS
Price: £19,095
Target Price: £18,115
CO2: 140g/km
NOx: 0.24g/km
Particulate emissions: 0.004g/km
Average fuel economy: 53.3mpg
Green verdict: Affordable to buy and own, practical, well-equipped, good to drive and emits far less CO2 than most rivals

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What Car? Green Awards 2009 - SUVs


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