Britain’s cheapest green car is the Suzuki Alto

21 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Britain’s cheapest green car is the Suzuki Alto

Britain’s cheapest green car is the Suzuki Alto

Green cars are expensive. A Nissan LEAF costs well over £30k: yes, the government will give you £5000 towards that, but it’s still the price of a decent BMW 3 Series. The Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera are even more expensive; even the tiny Mitsubishi i-MiEV costs a small fortune.

Of course, you don’t have to go full EV to go green. What else is there, then? Well, a Toyota Prius hybrid is a clever thing for the city-bound but is still hardly the cheapest thing around.

The standard Prius costs upwards of £20k, as does its British-built sister car, the Toyota Auris HSD.

So, you look instead to super-eco versions of normal family cars. And find the £19k VW Golf Bluemotion. The £16k Kia cee’d. The near-£14k Fabia Greenline. Getting there, but still five figures.

To get a truly affordable green car, you need to think small. The 99g/km, £8k Peugeot 107 trio, the £9k VW up! trio, the £7k Nissan Pixo.

And now, officially, the UK’s cheapest green car, the Suzuki Alto SZ. Price? £5,995. CO2?

99g/km, free road tax, no London congestion charge and, thus, an annual saving of up to £2600 right away for metropolitan sorts. (Will this make the Alto the next big thing on London city streets, gaining the cult cool appeal also enjoyed by the Lexus RX 450h and Honda Civic Hybrid in the past? That’d be a very welcome brand-builder…)

This is clever stuff by Suzuki. Becoming officially the cheapest petrol-powered car on sale in the UK is sure to alert people who wouldn’t otherwise consider a new car. And even the price itself, already low as it is, comes with extra savings that motorists may not at first appreciate.

Green cars, see, consume less and this doesn’t just save the planet, but it saves owners money too.

Let’s say our new Alto buyer, who drives around 6000 miles a year, swaps from their 15 year old Ford Ka. This car averaged 42.2mpg – probably less than that now, but let’s use the average figure – meaning our driver will be paying £870 for a year’s fuel. Switch to the Suzuki and they’ll see this chopped to £560, thanks to a 65.7mpg average.

A £310 saving in fuel alone.

There’s more. The Ford emits a staggering 163g/km CO2 (unbelievable that this was once seen as fair game for city cars: today, a BMW 328i only emits 149g/km, and that produces FOUR times the power!). This means the annual Road Fund Licence for the Ka will be £170.

The Suzuki? Free. And there ‘aint no better charge than free, is there…

The Ford Ka will emit exhaust gases compliant with Euro 2 emissions standards. The Suzuki will emit gases compliant with Euro 5 – and, compared to the Euro 2 Ford Ka, this places restrictions on total hydrocarbon, particulate matter and NOX that simply weren’t in place before. Not only that, Euro 5 also demands a cut in CO by more than half, too.

The modern Suzuki Alto is, in short, not only vastly more fuel-efficient than an old Ford Ka, but the exhaust gasses it does emit are also far, far less harmful than the old car. That’s progress. But it’s progress that’s been out of bounds to the small car buyers who’d benefit most from it for too long now.

So, Suzuki’s combined efforts of making the Alto both greener and cheaper is a bit of a winner that deserves praise and plaudits. Borrow the money from a rich relative, tax-free, and this new car would cost you £250 a month for two years, then it’s yours – and some of the cost of buying it could be drawn from the huge amount of cash you save in running it.

In short, doing your bit for the planet has never been more in reach. No wonder Suzuki stats reveal 63 per cent of people who take an Alto for a spin then go on to buy one.

Initiatives like this are what’s needed to clean up the UK’s rather grotty air. Pollution in London is, apparently, the worst of any major city in Europe. The SMMT has this week reported that the total UK car parc is ageing – at more than 7 years old, it’s actually two months older now than it was this time last year. The recession means that people can’t afford to trade up into newer, greener and cleaner ones, so are holding on to the older, dirtier ones they already have.

And air pollution is suffering as a result.

The only way to quickly bring about mass changes in vehicle emissions is not to bank on zero emissions vehicles being the answer, but to incentivise people into greener cars today. EVs and fuel cell cars are for the future, and are an answer in waiting. But they are not the answer now because the technology is too expensive.

We still need an answer now, though, and it’s affordable low-emissions cars such as the latest Alto that help provide it.

Now Suzuki has moved though, who’ll be the next to bring in a sub-100g/km CO2 car for a sub-£6k price tag? The Japanese brand predicts sales of the Alto are set to rocket as a r esult: if they do, other brands will want a piece of the action, believe me.

Are we thus set for a minor revolution in the cleaning up of the UK’s budget car parc? I’ll be watching, and hoping, with interest…

Richard Aucock

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