The sports cars that don't cost the earth
15th Oct 2008 | 11:53
Why your next car will be fast, affordable AND eco-friendly
At this year's Paris Motor Show the message was loud and very clear - the future's bright, the future's, erm, green.
Nearly every manufacturer had at least one eco-friendly machine on display, the hardcore and stubborn supercar makers were the rare exception.
Some were production cars due to go on sale next year, others concepts providing an insight into the future of green motoring. For you chip lovers out there, the answer isn't vegetable oil.
Surprise, surprise, but electric is one of the emerging choices. And the Chevrolet Volt was one of the most striking new plug-in cars to be shown. It might not be terribly sexy, but this car is a significant step in the right direction. Why? Well, it has an electric motor than can run emissions-free for 40 miles, with a back-up petrol motor if you run out of juice. That's a first! Current hybrids like the Toyota Prius can only go electric for a few miles before the petrol engine takes over.
The world's first mainstream hybrid?
Another problem with cars like the Prius is the cost - they're not exactly priced to appeal to the masses. However, Honda's new Insight hybrid - coming next year - is expected to cost from £15k. That's Ford Focus money, so it's little surprise Honda expects the Insight to be the world's first mainstream hybrid. It doesn't do anything particularly new - the Insight has a petrol-electric hybrid motor much like the Prius - but this combination still delivers very low carbon dioxide emissions and excellent fuel economy, and the price is so low it will become one of the cheapest ways to go green.
Daring to be different, Peugeot showed off its vision of the sports car of the future - the Peugeot RC HYmotion4 concept. Starring alongside the Peugeot Prologue diesel-electric hybrid, the RC four-door supercar uses a hybrid propulsion system comprising a 1.6-litre engine and electric motors to generate 313bhp, a 182mph top speed and only 109g/Km of carbon emissions. That's less than a Ford Fiesta.
Star of the show
Not to be outdone, fellow French car maker Renault showed the Z.E. Concept, an all-electric car due in your local showroom by 2011. You'll be able to come home from a hard day at work, plug your car in to charge and never visit a filling station again. Unless you run out of American Hard Gums or McCoys.
These electric and hybrid cars are great, but where is the stuff of science fiction? Where are the nuclear cars, the solar-powered flying machines and the cars that can zoom - emissions free - under water? Well, actually, it might not fly or do anything that clever, but Citroen's new GT concept was the undisputed star of the Paris show. Powered by electric motors and a hydrogen fuel cell for walloping straight-line speed, this two-seat sports car is all the proof we need that the green future isn't going to be as dull as an episode of the Antiques Roadshow. If you fancy test driving the GT Concept for yourself, it's in Gran Turismo 5.