the carbon economy

top ten cars for company car buyers looking for low emissions

the carbon economy

If you're perusing the lists of company cars available to you, the old faithfuls of speed, equipment and residual values have now been replaced by one criterion - carbon dioxide emissions. The difference between the best and worst cars in each class is still huge and should you need a few pointers as to where you can make the biggest savings, we've done the legwork so you don't have to.

Citycar: smart fortwo CDI - 86g/km

In the current climate, a headline-grabbing fuel economy figure can do wonders for a car's profile and sales. The fortwo cdi certainly has one. It takes a notoriously long time for a diesel city car doing a low annual mileage to justify in fuel savings the higher purchase price it commands over a petrol model. That said, 85.6mpg combined economy with 89g/km emissions will endow the fortwo cdi with a powerful appeal for anyone keen to do their bit for the planet, dip under the cut off point for congestion charging schemes or benefit from the convenience of a car capable of going from Dover to Prague on a single tank of fuel. Quite simply, this is one of the greenest cars on the road.

Supermini: Skoda Fabia Greenline 1.2 TDI - 89g/km

The Fabia GreenLine features an economy figure of nearly 83mpg on the combined cycle which, if you're into comparisons, is good enough to put the car on a par with the most efficient models on the market. Where the GreenLine also scores is in its carbon dioxide emissions. It's rated at 89g/km which makes it extremely tax-efficient for private buyers and company car users. The low insurance grouping also spells minuscule premiums.

Family hatch: Toyota Auris HSD - 89g/km

Toyota has invested a lot of time, effort and cash into developing its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology and the Auris HSD is tasked with reaping the dividends. The ultimate goal of all that technology is fuel efficiency and its resulting environmental and financial benefits. The car is being made available in two versions, one with 17-inch wheels that achieves 71mpg and CO2 emissions of 93g/km and another that thanks to 15-inch wheels improves its returns to 74mpg and 89g/km. That makes the Auris HSD one of the most efficient cars on sale and sets the standard to which the rest of the family hatch class must aspire.

Medium Range: Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TD Bluemotion - 118g/km

This Passat knocks down more preconceived ideas when it comes to cost of ownership. For a start, this BlueMotion version isn't at all expensive. Compared to an entry level Passat 1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology weighing in at £19,655, a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi Exclusiv (also the entry-level model despite the name) is £800 dearer and the Passat retains at least 8 per cent more of its new value over three years. The final blow to the otherwise excellent Vauxhall is the fact that it returns an average of 56.5mpg while the Passat driver will be getting 65.7 miles from a gallon. Emissions are kept well in check, with a 118g/km showing for this manual model.

Compact Executive: Volvo S40 1.6 TD DRIVe - 99g/km

Expected to see a BMW 3 Series here? Think again. The Volvo S40 1.6TD DRIVe's CO2 figure of 99g/km easily beats the 119g/km of BMW's 318d ES and the Audi A4 2.0 TDIe. The fuel economy's very impressive too, with this car achieving 72.4mpg on the combined cycle and over 75mpg at motorway speeds. It's a strong showing for this 109PS Swedish contender. The Start/Stop system contributes to this excellent figure and, what's more, there's no CO2 penalty for choosing the V50 estate version either.

Executive: Volvo S80 1.6 TD DRIVe - 119g/km

In order to get over the perceived handicap of a tiny 1.6-litre engine, the Volvo S80 1.6TD DRIVe counters with some excellent fuel and emissions figures. Well, the bottom line for the S80 DRIVe is a 62.8mpg economy figure and CO2 emissions of 119g/km. That's pretty impressive and it makes the S80 DRIVe the most fuel and tax efficient car in the executive car sector. The big names like BMW, Audi and Mercedes all have models that run the S80 DRIVe very close with economy in the mid to high 50's from cars that have far superior performance but if the lowest emission is the defining buying criterion, the Volvo will hold definite appeal.

Luxury: Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro- 174g/km

Thanks to its extensive use of aluminium, this A8 is as much as 200kg lighter model for model than the previous generation car. Much of that advantage is negated by the addition on most models of the heavy quattro 4WD system but even allowing for that, this car's fuel returns are still impressive, aided further by a stop-start system to save fuel in urban traffic and Audi's Recuperation system which captures kinetic energy to charge the battery when the car is coasting or braking. The result is 42.8mpg on the combined cycle for this 3.0 TDI Quattro model and 174g/km of CO2.

SUV: BMW X1 sDrive18d - 136g/km

The diesel-dominated engine range of the X1 bodes well for the running costs. As with performance, economy suffers when the extra weight of a 4x4 system is brought to bear on the car and the sDrive rear-wheel-drive derivatives are just under 5mpg more efficient than the xDrive 4x4s. The top performer is the sDrive18d with its 54.3mpg combined cycle showing. BMW's EfficientDynamics technology is present in all of the X1 models and includes Brake Energy Regeneration, gear shift indicators and enhanced aerodynamics. Auto Start-Stop technology is also available on all manual models which stops the engine when the vehicle is stationary to improve economy.

MPV: Peugeot 5008 1.6 HDI 110 - 134g/km

Peugeot's diesel engines have garnered a great reputation for longevity, economy and emissions. The 1.6-litre HDi manual car returns 53.3mpg and 139g/km emissions but the star performer is the model using that engine and the robotised self-shifting gearbox. This 5008 gets over 55mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 134g/km. Both of the petrol engines and the 2.0-litre HDi diesels comply with Euro5 emissions standards and all of the diesel engines are fitted with the FAP diesel particulate filter.

Coupe: Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology - 118g/km

It's hard to argue with a combined fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg with emissions rated at just 118g/km. Whichever way you choose to look at it, those are the figures of a tiny citycar rather than a beefy-looking coupe. Should you choose the DSG gearbox, the green credentials slip a degree or two, fuel economy edging back to a still hardly gluttonous 57.6mpg while emissions are rated at 129g/km.