A green car without the compromises

Price: £16,550. Engine: 1,560cc, 4cyls. Power: 108bhp@4,000rpm. Claimed fuel economy: 65.5mpg. Claimed CO2: 115g/km.

The three letters that have long meant the most to hatchback drivers are G, T and I, says AutoExpress. That could soon change to E, C and O. The “newest arrival on the green scene”, the Ford Focus ECOnetic, aims to show that we can have the best of both worlds – merging one of the finest cars in its class with guilt-free emissions.

And given the Government’s priorities, ‘green’ cars could save your wallet too. Its fuel economy and low carbon emissions, achieved with many subtle changes designed to lessen drag and energy losses, is so impressive that it makes it into tax band B – leading to annual road tax of just £35 – and will be free to drive in London’s congestion charging zone.

But has the Focus’s shine been lost in the transition from hot hatch to eco warrior? Thankfully, no. Which is bad news for the hairshirt brigade, says Piers Ward in Top Gear. Now, you can buy an environmentally sound car without making huge sacrifices in luxury or performance. Indeed, while driving it it’s hard to notice that anything has really changed: the engine is “torquey and has plenty of punch for motorway work” and it rides “incredibly well”.

The Ford Focus is the least compromised of the new batch of green cars, agrees What Car, beating the Toyota Prius and the VW Golf BlueMotion. It is practical and the cheapest to buy.