October 22nd, 2010

Top 5 Congestion Charge exempt cars

Transport for London have just announced that cars emitting below 100g/km of CO2 will be exempt from the congestion charge, as of January 2011.

There may be some debate from the most eco-conscious of folk about whether or not the move is truly environmentally friendly, but the general public won’t care. To them it makes buying a new car that’s C-charge exempt a lot more interesting, and gives them a lot more choice. But what would you pick?

Here’s a run down of my top 5 C-charge exempt motors.

Smart ForTwo CDI

I’ll admit that the smart isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, (It’s not really mine) but in the right environment, it makes perfect sense. And the right environment is London, so it certainly makes sense in this context. Moving in and out of little gaps in traffic and parking in the tiniest of spaces is what the smart car does best, and with the CDi you get the benefit of 85.6mpg and 86g/km of CO2. It’s just a same that semi-auto box is so slow to change.
Toyota Auris HSD

Say ‘hybrid’ and most people will come up with an image of the Toyota Prius. It’s the car which has become synonymous with eco-friendliness, and as a result, it stands out a bit. If you see one, you think that the driver must be putting the environment first and his car second. But now Toyota are making the Auris HSD – which is a hybrid, just like it’s Prius sibling. But it doesn’t shove that fact in your face with weird styling. It just looks like… well, an Auris. Which is no bad thing at all.
Volvo C30 DRIVe

I love the C30; it’s pretty to look at, safe, comfortable, and has a very Volvo interior which, in my opinion, is the best sort of interior you can get. You’d pay a fortune to have armchairs as fabulous as the drivers seat in a Volvo. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is refined, and despite only emitting 99g/km of CO2 and delivering 74.3mpg, it doesn’t feel like a compromise. It just feels like any other diesel… and I even like those strange, low drag alloys.
Citroën DS3

The DS3 is impeccable. It’s very, very cool to look at from every angle, and turns heads all over the place, whether because of the LED running lights or the array of crazy coloured roofs. It’s also brilliant to drive, practical, and well built. It’s all of the car a hip young urbanite could ask for, and with a 99g/km diesel engine in the line up, as of next year it’ll be C-charge exempt to boot. Fantastic.
Honda CR-Z
The winner is already C-charge exempt, you don’t even have to wait until 2011. In fact, it doesn’t even emit below 100g of CO2, while every other car on this page does. But who cares? Drive one, and you won’t.

The CR-Z is, put simply, brilliant. It looks fantastic for a start, with edgy, sharp, aggressive lines and a stylish, modern, well trimmed and well equipped interior. It’s not just a pretty face, though, it’s a hoot to drive on twisty roads. Threading this car through bends is an utter joy, and the sonorous exhaust note provides a wonderful soundtrack. Yet, when all is said and done, and you’ve finished hooning around the countryside, you can pop it in eco-mode and drive into The City, no quibbles. It’s the best of both worlds, and that’s why it’s my number one.

John Slavin