Can the biggest-selling cars in the UK really be green?
We get behind the wheel of 'eco' versions of the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and the Volkswagen Golf, Passat and Polo to find out.
Ford Focus Econetic
What is it?
Ford's small family car now has sub-100g/km carbon dioxide emissions.
Ford's Econetic badge will let everyone know you're doing your bit for the planet, but you'll need a calculator to work out if the greenest Focus will cost you the earth.
Focussing on the positives, lowered suspension, low-rolling-resistance tyres, longer gearing to reduce revs, and engine stop-stop technology the engine cuts out when you come to a standstill and put the gearbox in neutral all reduce CO2 emissions from the five-door Focus Econetic to just 99g/km.
Those same measures, plus a more aerodynamic nose, a Game Boy-style dashboard display designed to encourage you to drive smoothly and economically, and score points accordingly and numerous engine tweaks, mean the 1.6-litre diesel Focus is capable of averaging 74.2mpg.
What's more, because the Focus falls below the magic 100g/km CO2 emissions mark, you won't have to pay any road tax.
20k for a Ford Focus?
Don't be put off by the crazily optimistic 19,995 list price, because there isn't a Ford dealer in the land who won't offer you a substantial discount.
Trouble is, the taxman isn't interested in discounts so if you're a company car driver you will pay tax on that full list price. Ouch!
Although it's been around since 2004 and the rather plain Jane cabin is showing signs of age, the Focus remains one of the best small family cars to drive. The 107bhp engine is strong and flexible, all the controls are beautifully weighted and few if any rivals can match the Focus's exemplary blend of comfort and control.
If only Ford could control its prices as well.
On SaleFebruary 2010
You can do better for a lot less.