What Car? Green awards 2008 - Small family cars
The combination of a green car that's stylish, fun and practical might sound about as likely as gravy and ice-cream to some, but the Ford Focus shows you can have your cake and eat it (with a salad on the side).
For a start, this Focus hasn't gone in for any painful foot-binding exercises in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. The 107bhp 1.6-litre TDCI engine doesn't gasp for breath while travelling down the high street, or up into the Highlands, but emits only 119g/km of carbon dioxide. That's plenty low enough to earn a £35 a year VED bill and very low company car tax charges.
Another benefit is that the Focus will do an average of 62.7mpg, so filling up will be a pretty rare occurrence.
This model also comes equipped with a diesel particulate filter, which reduces sooty particulates output to nil, while the car's nitrogen oxide emissions are also pretty reasonable.
Worthy the Focus might be, but austere it isn't. It's still a great-looking car in our book, so you can do your bit for the environment and cut a dash at the same time.
The Style-trimmed car we've chosen even comes with alloy wheels as well as air-conditioning - both missing from the entry-level Studio variant - while remote central locking and electric windows are also standard.
It may have a sleek profile, but the Focus is a super-practical small family car. Whether you're off to five-a-side footie, dashing out on a shopping trip with the girls or just taking the kids to school, the roomy cabin and boot show there's no need to give up on space.
You might be wondering why we haven't picked the ECOnetic Focus, which is only £250 more than our winner but has even lower CO2 and better fuel consumption.
Well, we just don't see the point in spending more on a Focus that doesn't drive as well as standard models - and the 5g/km reduction in emissions and 2.9mpg improvement in fuel economy are minuscule.
You could easily put out more CO2 emissions in an ECOnetic if you thrashed it, so, by the same token, you could just as easily match, or beat, the 'green' version of the UK's favourite hatch by taking it easy in Style.
The newer 1.6 TDCI Focus is elusive on the used market. Buyers are snapping up these frugal hatchbacks as soon as they appear, so there aren't many on sale. Hunt hard and you could find an 08-plate Style 5dr with around 4000 miles on the clock for about £13,500 at a dealer.
Best buy £12,000-£17,000
Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI Style 110bhp (DPF) 5dr
Target Price £15,167
Average economy 62.7mpg
Green verdict A car that can tackle pretty much any road without running out of breath - or fuel
Best buy up to £12,000
Hyundai i30 1.4 Comfort
Target Price £10,388
Average economy 46.3mpg
Green verdict Zippy family car without the thirst of some rivals
Best buy £17,000+
BMW 118d ES 5dr
Target Price £18,682
Average economy 62.8mpg
Green verdict The 118d is a persuasive mix of power and efficiency
With thanks to the Eden Project: www.edenproject.com
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