What's the best used green car?

16 June 2008
Aygo panning medium

You've got £5000 to spend on a used car. You want something reasonably green – what should you buy?

Toyota Aygo
Years 2005-present
CO2 emissions 109g/km
Average economy 61mpg
For Cute looks; great green credentials
Against Not very refined; small boot
Low emissions and impressive economy mean the Aygo makes great sense, either as a new or used buy. There are plenty of used examples at dealers, car supermarkets or private sellers.
Verdict You won’t find a such a new, green car for this kind of money.

Small family car

Volkswagen Golf
Years 2004-2008
CO2 emissions 163g/km
Average economy 41.5mpg

For Fast, fun, and fairly frugal
Against Potentially pricey to buy
It’s not the most fuel-efficient hatchback around, but factor in the first-class build quality, accomplished drive and reliability, and it’s a great package. There are also plenty on the used market and, with a newer model now available, prices are on their way down.
Verdict Classy yet affordable: the Golf should keep your fuel bills down and a smile on your face.

Family car
Mazda 6 1.8 4dr
Years 2003-present
CO2 emissions 185g/km
Average economy 36mpg

For Classy; reliable; practical
Against Dealer prices can be steep, so haggle
The Mazda 6 combines reliability, space and style in an affordable package. The 1.8-litre model is cleaner and greener than the larger 2.0-litre. There’s plenty of choice on the used market.
Verdict One of the best used cars you can buy is impressively green, too.

Compact executive
BMW 316i
Years 2000-2006
CO2 emissions 187g/km
Average economy 36mpg

For Great image; well put together
Against Only higher-mileage cars at this budget
The entry-level, old-shape 3 Series offers class, great build quality and low emissions for its size. Its 1.9-litre engine provides decent pace, too. The best used deals are at independent garages and in the classifieds.
Verdict Choose carefully and haggle hard, and you’ll get a great used compact executive.

Executive car
Audi A6 1.8T 4dr
Years 2000-2005
CO2 emissions 202g/km
Average economy 34mpg

For Looks good; well built; refined
Against Not the best driver’s car
This A6 is surprisingly green for its size; its turbocharged petrol engine delivers good economy compared with rivals. At this budget, you'll be looking at a car with high miles, but if it has been well maintained that shouldn't be an issue.
Verdicts This quiet, comfortable long-distance cruiser is a lot of car for not a lot of money.

Ford Galaxy 1.9 TDi
Years 2000-2006
CO2 emissions 172g/km
Average economy 43mpg

For Big enough for the whole family
Against The diesels are popular, so prices can be high
The diesel Galaxy's fuel economy and relatively low emissions appeal, as do the seven seats and ample load space. There are lots of used Galaxys to choose from, but private sales are the best value.
Verdict A green people-carrier that's good to drive and well built.

Open top
Smart Fortwo Cabriolet
Years 2002-present
CO2 emissions 113g/km
Average economy 58mpg

For Great in the city, nimble and fun to drive
Against Compromised on the motorway
The Fortwo cabrio is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way of getting wind-in-your-hair motoring. Its tiny engine gives adequate performance and low fuel consumption. There are only two seats, but you get a surprising amount of legroom and usable boot space.
Verdict Small, fun and green.

Sports car
MG TF 1.6
Years 2002-2005
CO2 emissions 169g/km
Average economy 40mpg

For A great British name, and it's fun to drive
Against Cabin cramped for taller drivers
Fun and economical - and keenly priced following the demise of MG Rover. Later cars were far more reliable than the early cars if properly maintained, and there's a good choice of stock with former MG dealers, independent garages and private sellers.
Verdict Cheap and green sports car

Subaru Forester 2.0
Years 2002-present
CO2 emissions 214g/km
Average economy 31mpg

For Great handling; four-wheel drive
Against Too small for serious off-road work
Off-roaders have a bad environmental image, but the Forester’s compact size means you get four-wheel drive without high emissions. The Forester is also good to drive, has a spacious cabin and a roomy boot.
Verdict Forester is a reasonably green alternative to large, inefficient 4x4s.

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