What Car? Green Awards 2009 - Superminis

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Best buy: Fiat 500 Start&Stop
Being green doesn't mean you have to be boring, as Fiat's chic 500 proves. It's not only one of the cleanest superminis around, but also one of the most stylish and desirable.

Thanks to its low weight and 1.2-litre petrol engine, the standard 500 is impressively efficient. The new Start&Stop version is even less polluting, though. The addition of an engine stop-start system brings CO2 emissions down from 119g/km to 113g and fuel economy rises from 55.4mpg to 58.9. Not many cars as chic as the 500 are so easy on the environment.

Feel-good factor
If the 500's green credentials make you feel good about yourself, its smart styling will make you feel even better. It's one of those cars that's almost guaranteed to give you a warm glow every time you see it parked outside your house.

It's equally lovable on the inside, with a cabin that strikes a perfect balance between modern and retro. Circular switches and swathes of colour make it cheerful, but it's also classy, with good-quality materials and fine fit and finish. Everything is easy to use, too, thanks to a dashboard that puts everything within easy reach of the driver.

Space up front is plentiful and, although adults won't relish long journeys in the back, the 500 is a genuine four-seater. The boot, as you'd expect, is pretty small, but it's large enough to swallow your luggage for a weekend away.

The driving experience isn't as engaging as the way it looks, but the 500 can still put a smile on your face and it's composed at speed. Its natural habitat is the city, where its dinky size and light steering make parking a breeze.

Although it's low on fuel consumption and emissions, the 1.2-litre petrol engine doesn't sell you short; it's impressively flexible and refined at speed.

The Start&Stop model might not be the cheapest 500, but it's good value because it comes loaded with equipment. As well as seven airbags (including one for the driver's knees), air-conditioning, alloy wheels, electric front windows and door mirrors and Bluetooth are included.

Running costs are low thanks to group four insurance and you'll pay only £35 per year in car tax because of its low CO2 emissions. Discounts on the list price are hard to come by, but the 500 is keenly priced to start with, especially when you consider that it's as desirable as a Mini, which costs a whole lot more. That, in turn, keeps resale values high: after three years, you should be able to get back around half of what you paid.

Buying used
The Start&Stop model has only just gone on sale, so you won't find any used examples on the market yet. Even the standard model is still a hot ticket, so don't expect to find one for bargain-basement money. Strong demand means you can expect to pay at least £6365 for a used standard car if you're buying privately, or £6890 at a dealership. Even so, we think that's still great value for money.

Green car fact file:

Best buy up to £8000
Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i+ 3dr
Price: £7600
Target Price: £7050
CO2: 106g/km
NOx: 0.010g/km
Particulate emissions: na
Average fuel economy: 62.8mpg
Green verdict: Low on emissions, but high on value and appeal, the Aygo appeals to your heart, conscience and bank balance

Best buy £8000-£13,000
Fiat 500 Start&Stop
Price: £9700
Target Price: £9700
CO2: 113g/km
NOx: 0.032g/km
Particulate emissions: na
Average fuel economy: 58.9mpg
Green verdict: Chic, yet cheap. The 500 is easy on the eye, easy on the environment and easy on your wallet

Best buy over £13,000
Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic 5dr
Price: £13,195
Target Price: £11,861
CO2: 98g/km
NOx: 0.217g/km
Particulate emissions: Too low to register
Average fuel economy: 76.3mpg
Green verdict: Great to look at, great to drive and incredibly efficient. The best supermini around is also one of the greenest

Warranty DirectMichelin

What Car? Green Awards 2009 - Small family cars


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