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Fuel Miser Comparison (2010/2022) Smart-VW

I thought I’d look at a list of cars that featured in an article written back in 2010, where I compared some of the thriftiest cars at that time.  These were cars which had been designed to function as some of the world’s best fuel sippers.  These vehicles were sold new in Australia, but I thought I’d add a new twist this time by adding what we can consider as the brand new version of these old models with their statistics for fuel consumption as a comparison – you know, a bit of nostalgia along with the new, and what’s changed – or not.

Note that the fuel consumption figures are based on the number of litres of fuel consumed every 100 km travelled.  Often real world situations can play havoc with Lab tested fuel consumption figures, but this definitely gives you an interesting picture  And, here is the list that is in alphabetical order – just to be helpful:

Smart

2010 Smart ForTwo

By far the smallest car being talked about in 2010 with excellent fuel consumption was the Smart ForTwo.  It still fits into car parks like you wouldn’t believe!  Small and safe, comfortable and peppy, any smart CBD commuter would be tempted by the tiny Smart ForTwo.  It boasts a combined fuel economy figure that sits well under 5 litres/100 km – and this all coming from a ULP motor.  Currently you can’t buy any new Smart car in Australia, though I’ve heard that, in the near future, they are making a comeback with purely electric power and with new design.

SsangYong

2010 SsangYong Actyon SUV

At the time, the 2010 SsangYong Actyon was about the most frugal SUV you could buy new at an impressively low price.  The economic SUV has muscly looks and a rugged design that could see the vehicle handling tough off-road terrain with ease.  SsangYong uses a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine in this vehicle, which packs over 300 Nm of torque to go with its excellent 4×4 underpinnings.  Getting any 1.8 tonne vehicle to manage under 5 litres/100 km is a feat.  So, well done to SsangYong!  Currently, no more SsangYong vehicles quite match the excellent economy of an Actyon Diesel.

Suzuki

2010 Suzuki Alto

Budget priced, and one of the few petrol powered cars back in 2010 delivering awesome fuel economy was the Suzuki Alto.  The Suzuki Alto 1.0 litre GL and GLX has an attainable fuel economy figure of 4.8 litres/100 km.  The Suzuki Alto is also nice looking (bug-eyed), has six airbags, and even comes with ESP as standard in the GLX model.  Great for around town – you’d be nuts to not consider an Alto.

2022 Suzuki Ignis

There are no new Altos in 2022, but Suzuki do offer us the awesome little Suzuki Ignis GL Manual and GLX auto.  These cars use a 1.2-litre ULP motor and deliver a similar fuel consumption to the 2010 Alto.  Safety in new Suzuki cars has taken a big leap forward, so too has all the modern technology.  Brand new Swift and Baleno models are definitely worth a look.  These are also economy-driven cars with decent comfort, technology, and practicality.

 

 

 

 

Toyota

Where would the world be without Toyota?  For a very frugal, spacious, and practical drive, the clean burning 2010 Toyota Prius III offered a 1.8 litre petrol hybrid engine.  It didn’t come cheap, but it was certainly friendly on the environment.  You could expect around 4.0 litres/ 100 km – sometimes better.

2022 Toyota Prius

You can now buy a 2022 Toyota Prius model for between $42–50k.  These are nice cars and much more impressive to look at than the older models.  They are safe and packed with excellent features.  The Prius still continues with the same petrol-electric engineering that made it such a standout when it was launched in 2001.  The same basic technology remains for the 4th-generation Prius, as well as all Toyota/Lexus hybrids these days.  So, what a new Prius offers is a small-capacity 4-cylinder engine that works through a planetary gear set to dispense the delivery of power to the front wheels (or also the rear wheels in SUV variants). The current Toyota Prius is powered by a 72kW/142Nm 1.8-litre engine that combines with an electric motor to produce a joint maximum power output of 90kW and a claimed fuel consumption of 3.4 litres/100km.  Better than ever!  Toyota newest vehicles: the CH-R, Camry, Corolla, RAV-4, and Yaris Hybrid models are available with very low fuel consumption figures.  Toyota and Honda are masters of the Hybrid-game, and have been for quite some time.

VW

Back in 2010, the Germans offered plenty of cars with excellent fuel consumption.  Volkswagen has for a long time offered well-designed, reliable and fuel efficient motorcars.  They are generally refined, elegant, and roomy, and the 2010 VW Golf 77TDI variant easily boasts fuel economy figures below 5 litres/100 km on a combined cycle.

2010 VW 77TDI

2022 sees the Golf Hatch with 5 models, and in Wagon form it has a couple of nice new variants.  The base models use a 110TSI 1.4-litre ULP motor, which is a 4-cylinder that is smooth and can return a claimed 5.8 litres/100 km.  250 Nm of torque offers muscle when you need it, and the car cruises at high speed effortlessly.  The 8th-generation of the Golf brings not only fresh external and interior design, but it is also the safest, most tech-laden ever.

2022 VW Golf 110TSI

There are other new cars right across the auto-manufacturing spectrum now that offer superb fuel economy or EV power alone.  It’s interesting how in that time (2010–2022) we’ve seen auto manufacturers taking a shift away from providing the new-car buyer with several frugal diesel family options to a fleet that is now a lot more Hybrid in flavour.  It’s a change coerced by new government law and regulation.  However, hybrid vehicles are superb automobiles that offer top fuel consumption figures and practicality, creating that much needed bridge between purely fossil fuel vehicles and completely EV-powered automobiles

Do check out the brand new arrivals.  Cars like the Hyundai IONIC, Hyundai KONA, Kia EV6, Kia Niro, Mazda MX-30, BMW i and Hybrid models, Mercedes Benz EQA and EQC models, MG HS EV, Polestar cars, Tesla, and Volvo’s Recharge and Hybrid models are just some of the amazing new cars available that we can now buy that weren’t even a showing back in 2010.

Happy commuting!

Fuel Miser Comparison (2010/2022) Audi-Fiat

One of the easiest ways to counter any rises in the fuel prices is to look at downsizing to a more economical car.  If this sounds something you’d be into, then you certainly won’t be the first person to do so.  We’ve just purchased a smaller Honda Jazz as a run around.  Just think back to the fuel crisis in the seventies.

Anyway, it’s always an interesting topic, and who wouldn’t mind driving a new- to late-model car that spends less time at the gas pump.  If you are a commuter, then you’ll appreciate owning a car that doesn’t cost the earth to run.

I thought I’d look at a list of cars that featured in an article written back in 2010, where I compared some of the thriftiest cars at that time.  These were cars which had been designed to function as some of the world’s best fuel sippers.  These vehicles were sold new in Australia, but I thought I’d add a new twist this time by adding what we can consider as the brand new version of these old models with their statistics for fuel consumption as a comparison – you know, a bit of nostalgia along with the new, and what’s changed – or not.

Note that the fuel consumption figures are based on the number of litres of fuel consumed every 100 km travelled.  Often real world situations can play havoc with Lab tested fuel consumption figures, but this definitely gives you an interesting picture  And, here is the list that is in alphabetical order – just to be helpful:

Audi

Audi A3 TDI 2010

The 2010 Audi A3 TDI offered a tidy package with practicality and comfort on its side.  It uses the 1.9-litre TDI engine linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox that has plenty of useful torque and manages a fuel economy figure of around 4.5 litres/100 km.  It was probably one of the roomiest economy cars on this list at the time.

Audi’s 2022 A3 is available in three model grades and two body styles ” Sportback (hatchback) and Sedan.  Two powerplants are available for the stylish new A3.  The most fuel efficient is the 35 TFSI 1.5-litre turbo-petrol with mild-hybrid technology producing 110kW/250Nm with a claimed 5 litres/100 km combined economy.

Audi A3 2022

Audi also has the smaller A1 model to add to your shopping list, which you can now buy new.  It has a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder ULP engine with 85kW/200Nm and a 5.4 litres/100 km combined economy, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder 110kW/250Nm option with a 5.8 litres/100 km combined economy.

Audi A1 2022

BMW

BMW 118d 2010

At the time, another small German car, the 2010 BMW 118d, offered a fun drive and used an automatic gearbox with a stop/start function for the engine.  It also offers a slick 6-speed manual gearbox option and achieved an impressive 4.5 litres/100 km for its combined fuel economy.  You have 300 Nm of torque, and it feels a punchy little powerhouse, and it’s also RWD!

BMW 118i M Sport

In 2022, the 1-Series is available in a 118i M Sport version, which uses a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder turbo ULP (unleaded petrol) motor  with a claimed 5.9 litres/100km combined.

 

 

Citroen

The French loved to rival the Germans, and still do, so it was no surprise to see that the Citroen C3 and C4 featured in 2010.  They are still nice-looking and comfortable cars.  The Citroen C3 HDi offers the driver a tidy fuel consumption figure of 4.4 litres/100 km, while the bigger and roomier C4 HDi could deliver 4.5 litres/100 km in combined fuel economy runs.

Citroen C3 2010

2022 sees Citroen’s C3 with much more grown-up styling, and a 1.2-litre three-cylinder 82kW/205NmTurbo petrol engine that delivers the power through a 6-speed automatic FWD driveline.  Fuel consumption should see around 5.7–6.4 litres for a Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) combined cycle, which is the current testing process for measuring a new car’s fuel economy, electric driving range, and emissions.

Citroen C3 2022

 

 

 

 

Fiat

Fiat 500 2022

One of the 2010 super cuties, and still with endless loads of flair, is the nicely packaged turbo-diesel Fiat 500 that captures your attention.  Whether it is the 1.3 JTD engine mated to a 5-speed or 6-speed manual gearbox, both options provided a thrifty 4.0–4.5 litres/100 km fuel consumption.

2022 Fiat 500 cars are still available new, of course with all their modern updates and new technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and updated safety technology.  The current 500 and 500 Convertible offer a manual or single-clutch automated manual five-speed gearbox that underpins the driving force behind the 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine producing 51kW and 102Nm.  Fiat rate it good for around 4.9 litres/100 km on a combined run, making this a great modern car to drive in an urban setting.

Fiat Punto 2010

In 2010, the Italian flamboyance continued with the Punto 1.3 and 1.4 JTD models.  The Punto handles the road well, making it rewarding to drive, while returning a combined 4.6 litres/100 km.  Currently, Fiat no longer sells a New Punto model, so, if you’re into Fiats, then the 500 is the one for you.

Are You Being Misgendered By A Crash Test Dummy?

It may have come to your notice that not all car drivers are men. For most of us, this isn’t much of a staggering revelation, especially if you are a woman. Or if you were ever driven places by your mother. Or taught your daughter to drive. Or asked your wife or girlfriend to share the driving with you on a long-haul trip interstate. Or if… well, you get the picture. However, it seems as if car manufacturers, especially those responsible for the passive safety features, haven’t quite cottoned onto this yet, as a whole.  You’d think that Bertha Benz had never taken her husband’s prototype horseless carriage out for a long drive to demonstrate to the world that this new invention was easy to use.

The road safety analysts who collect facts on these sorts of things found, when they separated out the data for men and the data for women, found out that women are 73% more likely to be injured in a vehicle crash than men and 17% more likely to die in one. This isn’t because they’re crashing at a higher rate, either. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US, men still crash more and are more likely to do silly things like not wear seatbelts, drive too fast and drive drunk. However, if they do get into identical crashes, a man is more likely to survive it than a woman.

One has to ask why, given that most car manufacturers pride themselves on how good their safety features are. After all, they do all those crash tests with dummies, don’t they? Surely these should make cars safer for both men and women?

Well, yes. Lots of passive safety features such as airbags have become standard on just about every new vehicle thanks to these tests. But there’s a wee problem with these tests, as pointed out by investigator and social commentator Caroline Criado-Perez in her book Invisible Women. Ms Criado-Perez dug around a bit and found out a few things about the standard crash test dummies used in most tests by most manufacturers. In these tests, they tend to use three main ones for the frontal crash tests: one 95th percentile male (in other words, a dummy representing a really big dude who’s bigger than 95% of other guys), a 50th percentile male (an average guy) and a 5th percentile female dummy (a teeny lady who’s shorter than 95% of the population). In other words, tests are carried out on twice as many male dummies as they are on female dummies. That’s a wee bit of a problem to begin with.

However, it gets worse. According to Ms Criado-Perez, during those frontal crash tests, the female dummy isn’t even tested in the driver’s seat – she goes into the front passenger seat. This makes you wonder what century these designers are living in. Surely, given that they’re putting all these electronic assistance gadgets, they know that this is the 21st century and that women drive cars, don’t they? The good news here is that in Australia, the ANCAP tests do put that 5th percentile female dummy in the driver’s seat during the frontal tests – good for them.

However, there’s one wee problem with that female dummy. OK, she’s smaller than the male ones and she’s got boobs, but when it comes to actual anatomy, that dummy doesn’t actually represent real female biology. What the designers did was to simply take the male dummy, scale it down and put boobs on it. The trouble is that nature doesn’t work like that. There are differences between male and female skeletons – that’s forensics 101 (yes, literally; it’s part of the basic undergraduate anatomy course). Take necks for example.  If a man and a woman have the same sized head, the woman will have thinner neck vertebrae and a thinner neck.  Now look down a bit to the other end of the spine, and look at the pelvis. The male pelvis is narrower and has a heap of different angles, which means that a guy’s legs are also straighter – and that’s just the start. The differences between male and female pelvises are as different as the soft bits found in and on the pelvis (yes, the bits you’re thinking of). And the list goes on: men have longer ribcages and denser long bones as well.

In short, using a smaller version of a male dummy doesn’t actually represent a female body. Women are being misgendered by crash test dummies, in effect.

Would you be surprised to learn that in one recent study on sex differences between injuries from car crashes, women were more likely to have injuries to their pelvises and spines – the places where female bodies are most different from male bodies? Those whiplash-protecting headrests do something, but they’re better at protecting male necks than female necks – because they’ve been tested on what are essentially male dummies.

However, this isn’t an excuse for men to hog the driver’s seat.  Volvo is one car manufacturer who has cottoned onto the fact that women have been driving since Bertha Benz took a road trip through the Schwartzwald, and they’re starting to work out how they can make cars safer for 100% of drivers.  What’s more, a more anthropomorphically correct female dummy has been invented, known as the THOR-5F.  The THOR-5F isn’t just a scaled-down male dummy but has been built to actually represent that dainty 5th percentile female, pelvis, neck and all. This dummy even has a whole heap of sensors in the abdomen and the dummy looks like she’s in the second trimester of pregnancy.  A crash test mummy, if you like. Here’s hoping that ANCAP and the other safety testing authorities will insist that this dummy or other dummies based on real women must be used in crash tests.

In the meantime, keep on driving safely and always wear your seatbelt (even if arranging it around your boobs is awkward).

New Cars and Software Updates

How would you react if you had to pay for the apps that appear on the touchscreen of your new car?  Various auto manufacturers are looking at new ways to charge owners money for features that were previously sold as an option for the car when you bought it new.  One idea that has shown up in their brainstorming sessions was to charge car owners subscription fees for features like Apple CarPlay and its phone-pairing connectivity – as BMW is already doing.  Of course, this has been a feature that has been included for free on many mainstream cars.

Perhaps not so surprising to many would be the results that Cox Automotive collected, which were collected from a survey that asked a relatively small group of a little over 200 people about their thoughts and attitudes towards having to pay over and over again for features that used to be included at the point of sale.  Around 75% of the survey respondents would refuse to pay for features on an ongoing basis.

When asked about having to pay for any safety features on an ongoing basis, the survey showed that around 80% would not want to pay for these safety items again and again.  However, if forced to, these same respondents would be prepared to pay up to $35 per month.  I’m not sure whether the people surveyed were by enlarge high-flyers or a decent cross-section of society that included your average wage earner.  This cost per month was the highest level that these respondents would be prepared to pay for them if they were forced to.

A full 92% of respondents said that the physical items like heated and cooled seats, massage functions, or a refrigerated drinks box should be purchased as a one-off-at-the-point-of-sale option, just like anyone does now when they buy a new car with extra options.

A new car these days is full of computerised technology, so any software updates or subscription fees for software enhancements, EV power upgrades, satellite or vehicle locator enhancements need to be paid for somewhere along the line.  The funny thing is that, even as with a standard Office update on a desktop, the real-life software updates rarely have any significant practical benefits in real-life usage for the user.  Sometimes a new desktop Office update can even complicate things with the user having to relearn the fifth new visual format and appearance update in two years – I know, I was probably exaggerating.

I guess I would be prepared to pay for a driving range enhancement or a better battery capacity after purchasing a new EV, though I guess this could be a bargaining carrot for keeping a customer longer and loyal to a brand, or even enticing them to buy a certain car in the first place.

Interestingly, around 50% of the survey respondents weren’t even aware that subscription fees for car features were a prerequisite.  Rising costs that grow quicker than someone’s usable income is never a welcome scenario, so these sorts of surveys and results will hopefully provide auto manufacturers with the necessary feedback from their customers, and on the customers’ tolerance for any new additional fees in general.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (MG to Z)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (MG to Toyota)…

MG HS Plus EV SUV

Yes, a new and very fuel efficient Hybrid for less than $50k is possible, thanks to the snazzy MG HS Plus EV SUV.  Nice to drive, comfortable, and with roomy interiors, loaded with technology, and five-star safe, these are a great hybrid buy.  The MG HS Essence-spec plug-in hybrid joined the range in 2021 and uses a 119 kW/250 Nm 1.5-litre Turbo four driving the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.  It boasts a strong presence among class leaders that include the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail.  It comes with 5-star safety technology that includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian avoidance and satellite navigation as standard.  MG says it takes about 7 seconds for the 0-100 dash, while returning a fuel efficiency that can be as low as 1.7 litres/100 km or more commonly up to 5.7 litres/100 km.

MINI Countryman Cooper SE Classic SUV

The Countryman Cooper SE Classic is a cute three-cylinder plug-in hybrid with electrically-assisted AWD.  BMW indicates a combined cycle as low as 2.4 litres/100 km but may look more like 4.5 litres/100 km for most of the time.  Combining a 1.5-litre Turbo 3-cylinder ULP petrol (100 kW/220 Nm) and a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion plug-in battery, this combined system equates to an output of 165 kW of power and 385 Nm of torque.  The small MINI sees off the 0-100kmh sprint in 6.8 seconds and is a lot of fun to drive.  The MINI Countryman’s roomy interior is backed up by 450 litres of luggage space behind the back seats, growing to 1275 litres if the seats are folded down.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES

From around $51k you can get one of these new.  The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES is a very stylish small SUV with very low running costs.  Aspire and Exceed models are also available.  Comfortable and loaded with tech and safety, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV makes a lot of sense.  Even the top of the range Exceed with all of the bells and whistles can be bought for under $60k.  Mitsubishi indicates as low as 1.9 litres/100 km is possible, though real world figure of 3.7–4.0 litres/ 100 km is still impressively low in the real world.  Boot space is around 350 litres, and 0-100 km/h takes about 10.5 seconds.

Peugeot 3008 GT Sport Plug-in Hybrid AWD SUV

For less than $90k you can have one of these very stylish hybrids.  Boasting a 1.6-litre Turbo ULP engine and electric power that combines to a maximum of 222 kW, this sporty SUV uses an 8-speed automatic.  Thanks to twin electric motors driven by a 13.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Peugeot 3008 PHEV enables zero-emissions driving for up to 60km.  Its 222 kW power output and a 6.5-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time makes this one of the fastest SUVs in its class.  It is also 4×4 capable, making it a highly desirable vehicle for undertaking light off-road terrain.  Gorgeous full-grain Nappa leather-appointed seats with grey stitching, nicely-integrated twin digital screens (a 10.0-inch central touch-screen with satellite navigation and a 12.3-inch driver display), real world fuel efficiency likely be around 5–5.5 litres/100 km (but much less than this is possible), and you have yourself quite a vehicle.  Peugeot reckons the 3008 PHEV can achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 1.6 litres/100 km with CO2 emissions of 36.4g/km.  Boot space is 395 litres.

Peugeot 508 GT Plug-in Hybrid

From around $84k one of these extremely stylish cars can be yours.  Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain allows the svelte sedan to drive up to 55 km (WLTP) in silence, by switching off the combustion engine and using only its electric motor.  It’s hard not to be impressed with the car’s looks and style.  Inside, the leather seats, the dashboard design, the sporty cockpit layout, and the sheer attention to detail is very impressive.  A 12.3-inch iCockpit digital driver’s display, a 10.0-inch central touch-screen, a 10-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, five-star safety, it’s all there!  0-100 km/h takes around 8.2 seconds, while the Plug-in Hybrid system uses a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine developing 133 kW at 6000 rpm and 300 Nm at 3000 rpm to get the job done.  The official combined-cycle fuel consumption figure is 1.8 litres/ 100 km, but to achieve that would require frequent charging – something that’s not always possible in the real world.  Expect around 5.0 to 6.5 litres/100 km combined.  Boot space is 487 litres.

Subaru Forester Hybrid

Subaru XV Hybrid

The fifth generation of Subaru’s mid-size, all-AWD Forester SUV was updated in late 2021 with a new look, plus refinements to steering and suspension and a revised instrument panel.  The smaller XV Hatch also uses similar tech.  Expect around 6-7 litres/100 km for the 2.0-litre boxer-based mild hybrid powerplants.  Off-road is no problems at all for the Forester or XV and safety is off the top shelf.  All Foresters and XV Hybrids get active cruise control, blind-spot monitors, lane-change assist, “active” LED headlights and rear cross traffic alert. The Forester offers truly generous passenger space and luggage capacity (422 litres expanding to 1768 litres with rear seats folded).  The XV has 340 litres behind the rear seats.  Both are nice to drive adventure seekers.

Toyota Hybrids

Almost every model on the Toyota showroom floor can be a hybrid.  There are so many that I’ll list them all here in picture form.

Toyota C-HR Hybrid SUV from $42k.

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan between $38-52k.

Toyota Corolla Hatch and Sedan between $32-40k.

 

Toyota Kluger SUV between $60-83k.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

 

 

Toyota Prius between $43-51k.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

These are truly excellent hybrid vehicles, and, if you don’t know where to start, Toyota is a great place.  Reliability, practicality, some of the best hybrid economy figures (usually very achievable: 3.5 to 5.5 litres/100 km), and excellent 5-star safety are all reasons why Toyota Hybrids are so good.  They are also very competitively priced right across the board from the little Yaris Hatch to the larger Camry Sedan or Kluger SUV.  Get ready to be impressed.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the Hybrid benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (Kia-Merc)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (Kia-Merc)…

 

Kia Niro Hybrid S

The Kia Niro comes in regular hybrid, plug-in PHEV hybrid, and also pure electric (EV) form. Hybrid variants of this small SUV use a 77 kW/147 Nm 1.6-litre ULP engine that is mated to a 44.5 kW electric motor.  The PHEV version can run in EV mode for around 58 km, while the pure EV model has a 150 kW/395 Nm motor and a 455 km WLTP (World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure) range.  All variants are available in regular or Sport form – the Sport model adding more technology and luxury such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, climate control and part-leather seat trim, as well as extra safety in the form of blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.  Drive away in one of these from around $45k.  Boot space is 382 litres for the regular hybrid, while the PHEV drops to 324 litres.

Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line and PHEV GT-Line

Drive away from in a HEV Sorento for around $73k or a PHEV Sorento for around $88k.  Being a spacious SUV, the Sorento is a very practical companion for the family.  The HEV model runs with a 1.6 litre Turbo engine and an electric motor that puts out a healthy combine output of 169kW.  The 6-speed auto is smooth and well-mapped.  Expect a combined fuel consumption of around 5.5 litres/100 km.  In PHEV form, the Sorento has 195 kW, Kia indicating a combined fuel consumption of 1.6 litres/100 km is possible, though it will likely be more than this in a real world commute.  The 7-seat Kia Sorento SUV won the 2021 car sales Best Family SUV award. Festooned with sensors, cameras and digital screens, it can even park itself without anyone inside.  Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance are all standard. The roomy cabin is enhanced by a boot that has over 600 litres, and when all-seats are folded, a whopping 2000 litres is possible.

Lexus ES 300h

One of the most luxurious hybrid sedans you can buy – let alone hybrid vehicles on the market – for under $70k new for the Luxury version or $90k new for the Sports Luxury version, this stylish car can be yours.  Toyota indicate that a combined city/highway run can be as low as 4.8 litres/100 km.  A combined 160 kW of power and five-star safety, what more could you want?  Boot space is 454 litres, and the 0-100 km/h takes around 8.5 seconds.

Lexus UX 250h SUV

The company’s first EV, the UX 300e has a 150 kW/300 Nm FWD electric powertrain and a 54.3 kW/h battery pack, the Lexus UX 300e claims a 360 km range.  But it is the Lexus UX 250h SUV Hybrid with the 2.0-litre 131 kW ULP regular hybrid engine that we’re particularly interested in here, which is available in Luxury, Crafted Edition, Sports Luxury and F Sport guise.  The Luxury Lexus UX 250h version can be had for well under $60k, a very reasonably-priced luxury machine all things considered.  These are five-star safe, FWD, extremely reliable, and very comfortable to drive.  Toyota indicate around 4.5 litres/100 km for a combined highway/city cycle for hybrid versions.  Boot space is 438 litres.

Mercedes Benz A250e Sedan and Hatch

Immensely low running costs can be had for this plug-in hybrid.  If everything suits the PHEV commute, then Mercedes Benz indicates you could see as low as 1.6 litres/100 km on a combined cycle.  Luxurious, safe, and fun to drive, these can be had for under $80k.  A 1.3-litre Turbo ULP engine with a plug-in hybrid combo that produces 160 kW max through its smooth 8-speed automatic FWD system.  The 2022 A-Class A250e runs the 0-100 km/h dash in less than 7 seconds, providing well for passengers and their luggage, driving with the poise and comfort that are hallmarks of the brand.  Safety, quality, comfort, and premium equipment levels are all up to expected Mercedes Benz standards.  Boot space is 315 litres for the Sedan and 310 litres for the Hatch.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (A-H)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see…

 

BMW 330e Sedan Hybrid Sedan

Drive away from around $85k in your new BMW 330e Hybrid sedan, where a claimed combined fuel consumption of around 5.6 litres/100 km combined with 215 kW provides plenty of spirited driving (0-100 km/h in around 6 seconds).  Comfort, safety and all the new technology is on-board this neat 3 Series Hybrid Sedan package.  375 litres of boot space is present.

Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid Sedan

Drive away in a new Honda Accord Hybrid for around $61k, and you get a wonderful 2.0-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 158 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  This is a very comfortable car with plenty of space in the cabin, and you get all the latest technology and safety.  It is fun to drive, with the 0-100 km/h sprint taking around 8 seconds.  Honda indicates that you can expect around 5.0 litres/100 km for a combined fuel consumption figure.  473 litres of boot space is present.

Honda HR-V e:HEV L

Wanting a new small SUV with Hybrid technology?  Then Honda’s little HR-V is a beauty.  Drive away in a new Honda HR-V e from around $45k, and it will boast a smooth 1.5-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 96 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  Honda suggests we can expect a combined fuel consumption of around 4.3 litres/100 km.  319 litres of boot space is present.

Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid Premium Fastback

Drive away from around $46k.  With its neat little Fastback design, the 1.6-litre ULP engine combines with a small electric motor to put out a sprightly 104 kW of power.  This Hybrid set-up runs a more conventional 6-speed automatic FWD, and it is a smooth, comfortable vehicle to drive.  Undercutting competitors such as the Toyota Prius and Renault Zoe, Hyundai’s IONIQ comes with plenty of premium features like autonomous emergency braking, an 8-year battery warranty and an attractive capped-price servicing deal.  The regular hybrid version is quoted at having a fuel consumption figure as low as 3.4 litres/100 km, while the plug-in version was quoted at an astonishing 1.1 litres/100 km.  Real world figures will be a bit more, I’m sure, but.  Boot space is 443 litres.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.  Take a look at the next blog list of Hybrid vehicles available (Kia-Merc).

Solid-State Batteries for EVs

The flourish of new electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids on the auto markets hint towards the diminishing of fossil fuel use.  EV sales have a long, long way to go before outselling vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), but the goals have been set by international emission standard agreements.  Certainly, doing away with EV range anxiety, the liquid lithium-ion batteries proneness to catching fire, having EVs with brief recharging times that are in line with current ICE refuelling times, and have pricing parity between a new EV and an equivalent new ICE vehicle would make a world of difference in the minds of people on the lookout for a new car.  Once these EV problems have been solved, perhaps consumers will genuinely buy into an all-EV future.

The good news for EV enthusiasts is that essentially every big automotive manufacturer in the world has unveiled its fleet’s electrification plans and zero-emission target dates. Some manufacturers have even gone further, declaring that gasoline and diesel engines would no longer be available in their model line-ups by 2050.  And, in order for these claims to become reality, some big landmark advancements in the EV future are being made right now, with huge money currently being pumped into various manufacturer’s kitties to research and create the perfect solid-state battery – especially designed for use in EVs.

One automotive manufacturer with a big sway in what goes down in the automotive world is Toyota, and they have pumped billions into creating a solid-state battery for use in their future hybrid vehicles and EVs.  A version of Toyota’s LQ Concept, which first debuted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, is now using working solid-state batteries, and has been doing so since June 2020.  Toyota has been collecting all the performance data from the solid state batteries in the LQ for research, development, and better solid-state battery designs.  The LQ Concept car is unlikely to end up as a production vehicle, however the solid-state batteries inside the car, and their development, will be used as a blueprint in Toyota’s new hybrid vehicles and EVs soon to make an appearance on the market for buyers to purchase.

Toyota LQ Concept Solid-State

Toyota’s quick development of solid-state batteries for use in all their hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030 is a sign of the ramping up in EV production that is happening not only at Toyota but in all other big global automotive brands who are boosting investments in the anticipation of greater EV and hybrid vehicle consumerism.

What battery type does Tesla use?  Currently, Tesla has been using heavy liquid lithium-ion battery technology.  However solid-state batteries are really the next step in clever battery technology, especially for EVs.  Why?  Solid-state batteries offer much better energy density, which leads to smaller, lighter batteries for cars but with a vastly improved range before recharging is necessary.  Solid-state batteries will also be able to recharge from empty (flat) to 80 % in just 15 min – not anywhere between 2 to 10 hours that is currently the norm, if you can find a spare fast charger to park up at.

The good news for solid-state batteries doesn’t stop here either, because solid-state batteries are inherently safer due to the lack of flammable liquid electrolytes that you’ll find in liquid lithium-ion batteries.  You may have heard of various electronic devices bursting into flame?  Well, liquid lithium-ion batteries bursting into flame and causing fires in various EVs over the last couple of decades has been an issue.  This in itself has deterred many people away from buying into EVs altogether.

So, big dollars are being spent in the design of solid electrolyte batteries (solid-state batteries) that are stable, chemically inert, and still a good conductor of ions between the electrodes.  In essence solid-state batteries will be doing away with the slopping, flammable liquid lithium-ion electrolyte battery designs.

By default, solid-state batteries are more stable, but they are also more compact in design, and therefore lighter.  Solid state batteries thus pack more energy output into the same amount of storage space that heavier and lower-output liquid lithium-ion batteries require.  Because solid-state batteries are lighter, they have more energy density, offer more range, and deliver a better power to weight ratio, and they also recharge faster.

Solid-state batteries have been used in small electronic devices like pacemakers (an amazing bit of life-changing tech) as well as radio frequency identification (RFID), and wearable devices for years.  Having fewer bits and pieces involved in the solid-state battery design means fewer things are present to go wrong.  In addition to their improved safety, size, and stability, solid-state batteries in EVs would also offer faster charging times, more travel range, and even greater energy density.

Solid electrolytes in solid-state batteries can even be composed from a number of everyday materials – even ceramics and glass.  The challenge to making solid-state batteries viable, however, is developing the technology that is commonly used in small devices and applying it to large-scale applications like in an EV.  Currently, solid state batteries are expensive to fabricate because they have been prone to cracking, which has been a result of the brittleness of the electrolytes inside the battery expanding and contracting during continual use.  The new research and development is setting out to change this.

Toyota is cracking the problem and will be using their solid-state batteries in their new range of hybrid vehicles first, which is an ideal testing ground for their fully-kitted EVs soon.  Volkswagen is also promising that they will have solid-state batteries in use and in their cars by 2024.  Like Toyota and Volkswagen, BMW anticipates that solid-state batteries could make it into production cars by 2025.  Tech giants Samsung and Panasonic are working away at creating a range of solid state batteries that automakers will be able to use.  Toyota has partnered with Panasonic to pave the way to an EV future.

Cars with the Biggest Mileage

Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S.

There is such a thing as the “Million-Mile Club”, a club for owners of cars which have travelled the 1–million milestone.  It is a very distinguished club that boasts a special list of cars and some special owners who have clicked over the huge distances.  The details of the car plus its owner can be proudly enlisted for the world to see and admire.  What cars feature most in the highest of highest mileage cub?  Maybe not so surprising to some people, but a few of the older vehicles made by Volvo and Mercedes have made it onto this rather prestigious list.  There certainly was a time where Mercedes Benz and Volvo made some of the most bulletproof cars on the planet.

Maybe some of these big mileage cars should be regarded as being sustainably green.  How many times would other people have bought a new car in that time?

Now I have a sneaky suspicion that there could be an old Ford Falcon or a Commie that could make its way onto the big milage hall of fame.  I did see on a Ford Forum page that of the AU-BF Falcon models, there was an AU Falcon Taxi with 930,000 km, and 04 BA Falcon XT wagon Egas with 906,600 km, an AU Forte Duel Fuel with 850,000 km and a BA Falcon Egas with 566,000 km on it.  These are big numbers, but not quite 1 million miles!  Sorry Holden fans, I can’t find any with much over 300,000 km!

Here’s a quick list of some of the furthest travelled cars on the planet – highest first:

  1. Over 3,000,000 miles (Over 4,800,000 km) – the highest recorded thus far by Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S. He changed the oil every 3,000 – 3,500 miles and changed the transmission fluid every 25,000 miles. Sadly, Irving has recently passed away.

Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S.

2) Gregorios Sachinidis with his 1976 Mercedes 240D clocked 2,850,000 miles.  The car, predominantly a taxi, is now on display in Mercedes-Benz’s personal museum as the longest running vehicle in the brand’s history.

A Mercedes Benz 240D a bit like his.

3) 1979 Volvo 245 GL, a well maintained Finnish company vehicle covered 1,630,000 miles.

The Volvo 245 GL Estate

4) A 1963 Plymouth Fury takes out fourth place having reached 1,620,000 miles by 1999.  It was owned and driven by Joseph Vaillancourt, however it was totalled by another road user in a truck running a red light.  Thankfully Joseph was unhurt!

A Plymouth Fury

5) A 1983 Lincoln Town Car that was owned by Chet Belisle covered 1.3 million miles.  He drove because he loved driving it.

A Lincoln Town Car

6) A 1991 Chevrolet Silverado owned by Frank Oresnik put over 1.25 million miles on the odometer.

A 1991 Chevrolet Silverado

7) A 1993 Toyota Corolla in New Zealand has just recently clocked a huge 1.25 million miles (2,000,000 km) since new. The Whanganui Chronicle’s local newspaper delivery contractor, Graeme Hebley, bought the Corolla wagon from Japan in 2000 with 80,000 km on the odometer.  Since then, he has since driven approximately 5000 km every week between Wellington and New Plymouth for work.  The engine, transmission, bodywork, and drivetrain are entirely original, all thanks to a maintenance routine where the vehicle is serviced every second week.  It has had its cambelt changed close to 20 times in its life.

Graeme Hebley and his Toyota Corolla

8) A 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Diesel owned by Hugh & Tammy Pennington has done well over the 1 million mile mark with no major maintenance.  Routine servicing was the key.

A 2006 Chevrolet Silverado

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

In a country like Australia where the sun shines brightly for most of the year a car like the Lightyear One might be just the thing for getting around in.  Sleek and comfortable, the Lightyear One is a solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) that has been designed and engineered in the Netherlands by Lightyear.

Having been recently tested in Italy, the Lightyear One completed 400 km on a single charge while driving at a constant speed of 130 km/h.  According to Lightyear One’s manufacturer, regular driving will easily result in a range of 725 km (WLTP).  If you’re like me and don’t know what WLTP means, then WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Procedure.  This mouthful is a new standard to measure fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and range.  The standard was introduced in 2017 and takes the measurements of test vehicles when driven in realistic driving situations to determine their fuel consumption, range, and emissions.

Lightyear One Interior

Because the Lightyear One is a solar-powered EV, its manufacturer also states that it would be possible to drive the car for months without needing to recharge.  In Australia, where the sun shines most days of the year, a car like the Lightyear One would be perfect for this scenario.  Take a good look at the car’s exterior and you’ll see the array of solar panels incorporated into the sleek exterior design.  All of the panels facing skyward are made of solar panels and are ready for harvesting energy from the sun to charge the 60 kWh battery.  5 m2 of solar panels cover the Lightyear One’s roof, bonnet and tail and are capable of harnessing up to 12 km of range every hour. That means during a sunny 8-hour workday, a parked up Lightyear One could harvest 96 km of driving range – more than enough for most people’s work commutes.  Even in cloudy conditions, its maker claims the Lightyear One that around 40 km of range can be harvested in that time.  Obviously, you can also plug the car in for a quick recharge if you ever needed to.

Jump in the Lightyear One and drive on a full charge, and the Lightyear One’s 60 kWh battery pack provides a claimed 725 km of range, making it one of the most energy efficient EVs on the market.  Efficiency of this standard is also achieved thanks to its construction consisting essentially of aluminium and carbon-fibre which gives it a weight of just 1315 kg.  Also the car’s drag coefficient of just 0.20cd is sensational.  As you can imagine, the aluminium and carbo-fibre underpinnings also drive the price of the car upward.

The Lightyear One is being manufactured in Finland, where its first deliveries will be made to Europe in mid-2022.  The car’s price is around the AUD $238,000 mark.  Just 946 of these cars will be built, however the company is already working on a more affordable solar-powered EV called the Lightyear Two which is expected to go on sale in 2024/25.  It will have a much more affordable price, maybe even as low as AUD $50,000.

Lightyear One Sedan

In the Lightyear One there are 4 electric motors on board, one for each wheel.  These provide the driving power.  Together, they produce a combined 101 kW of power and 1200 Nm of torque.  The car’s manufacturers say that the Lightyear One Sedan can seat 5 in comfort, and it has been designed especially for cruising and efficiency, and not for outright speed, thus claiming a 0-100 km/h sprint time of around 10 seconds.

I hope we see cars like this become available to people in Australia very soon.  It also begs the question: Couldn’t the Holden name resurrect itself by Holden designers and engineers making a similar type of car in Australia for primarily Australians?