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Eco-friendly cars can do it all

Date: 05 September 2008

Whether it's speed, space or spec you're after, there's a sub-121g/km model for everyone, writes Paul Barker

When then-Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the new sub-121g/km benefit-in-kind tax band, he couldn't have envisaged that business drivers would have 272 different vehicles to choose from.

They're not all impractical city cars any more either. With so many manufacturers now taking low-CO2 models seriously, everything from Renault's Grand Modus Mini-MPV through hatchbacks such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Seat Leon up to premium badges on the Mini, BMW 1-series and Audi A3 is on offer. These models come with a 13% BIK band, compared to the 18%+ of anything over 120g/km, which drops to 10% BIK if you choose one of the handful of petrol-engined variants available.

With this range of choice, there's no reason for most drivers to not examine the possibilities of sub-121g/km business motoring, especially as the fuel consumption will be improved in line with reduced emissions.

BusinessCar has worked its way through the 272 variants on sale at 120g/km or below to illustrate this diversity, and how it can meet different needs.

For example, offering drivers a low-emission model needn't be seen as a raw deal. As our 'Most exclusive' pricing table shows, it's possible to provide a well-specced BMW or Toyota worth well over £20,000, while the boot space tables ('Largest max carrying capacity' and 'Biggest boot') illustrate that practicality needn't take a back seat if your drivers go green. Estates such as the Ford Focus and Skoda Fabia easily cope with family life or business-related load-lugging, and most volume lower-medium hatchbacks have a sub-121g/km version, easing the decision process by making it less of a compromise.

The performance charts of 0-62mph time and top-speed ('Fastest accelerating' and 'Quickest') will also show your drivers that eco models aren't as sluggish and boring as they're expecting, especially in the case of BMW's 118d, possibly the most impressive car in this list as it's significantly more powerful than any of its peers, yet the Efficient Dynamics technology helps achieve great economy and emissions figures.

Peugeot takes top spot for the maker with the widest low-CO2 range ('Biggest choice'), which we've worked out by taking into account the number of individual models on its price list across model (e.g. 308), bodystyle (e.g. three-door) and trim level (e.g. SE) - we've ruled out anything beyond that, like gearbox option, special edition model or identical trims with added aircon or sunroof.

The French brand has 33 different sub-121g/km alternatives across nine different bodystyles of 107, 206, 207 or 308 - three- and five-door of each, plus the 207 SW.

Ford is second in that 'Biggest choice' list due to the Blue Oval's large range of 1.6 TDCi Focus and Fiesta models, although that may temporarily diminish while it gets the replacement Fiesta up to speed late this year. The Focus does, though, help Ford grab one top spot - 'Most individual model variants' - thanks to the large number of alternatives available. Due to the three-door, five-door, saloon and estate all being offered with a large number of trim levels, including Ford's low-CO2 Econetic branding, there are actually 17 different Focuses at 120g/km or below.

Our calculations

We've taken the data from BusinessCar's own online tax calculator - - which lists every model on-sale today, backed up by other industry sources including manufacturer's own websites. We've only included cars you can actually drive away today, which means models like the forthcoming 98g/km Ford Fiesta Econetic and 119g/km VW Jetta don't make it in, although they will have an impact when we repeat the exercise in 12 months' time. There's also an all-new VW Golf on the way, complete with a standard diesel model emitting 120g/km and a Bluemotion model coming in well below that.

Others that will increase their influence include the French manufacturers, with Citroen, Peugeot and Renault seeming to extend their low-CO2 offering on an almost daily basis, and the premium badges, with Mercedes and Volvo both expected to launch their first sub-121g/km models in the next 12 months - the A-class and C30 respectively.