South Africa’s recently implemented CO2 tax might be beneficial to the world’s polar bear population but it’s also taking the cost of purchasing a box-fresh car to gilded new heights. Indeed, for every gramme above and beyond the enforced 120g/km threshold you can expect to cough up no less than R75 plus VAT. On a 2.0 Toyota Corolla this adds on an extra R4532 to the indicated list price but switch to something big ‘n burly like a Range Rover Sport Supercharged and you’ll be hit with an eye-watering R17 100. Fortunately there are a handful of cars on the market that are exempt from this Earth-saving tariff that won’t cost you a dollar more than the numbers already scrawled across their shiny new windscreens. From an executive saloon to a small and spunky hatchback molded to the needs of the iPod generation, we’ve scoured local showrooms to bring you a selection of the best eco-warriors money can buy. Yep, no longer is CO2 a dirty word.
Fiat 500 1.2 Pop: 119g/km
A retro reinvention of that spirited original that defined Italian joie de vivre back in the 1950s, the Fiat 500 1.2 Pop shoehorns social responsibility into a fun-filled driving package. Like any small Fiat you’ve got to rev the nuts off its tiny 51kW engine to get anywhere but this just turns even the dreariest urban commute into something an experience. Great to look at, this baby Fiat also packs a beautiful interior – one that puts the overly fussy innards of its MINI rival to shame. Best of all it’s yours from R135 500.
Ford Fiesta 1.6TDCI: 110g/km
When gymkhana legend Ken Block drives a Ford Fiesta you know it’s cool. Granted this sensible 1.6TDCI version doesn’t pack anywhere near as much power as the 630kW monster he uses in those YouTube videos but with 200Nm of turbocharged torque on tap it’s got more than enough grunt to keep you happy. Designed by people who know a thing or two about handling this R197 570 Fiesta is also a real joy to throw through the twisties thanks to Ford’s sparkling chassis and well-sorted suspension setup. A class act.
Citroën C3 HDI Seduction: 110g/km
While the last Citroën C3 was a bit of a big girl’s blouse, I think you’ll agree that this new R205 900 HDI Seduction model is infinitely more exciting to look at. With a DS3-derived front grille and a unique “Zenith” panoramic windscreen laying on the ocular kudos, this practical French hatchback also comes equipped with standard interior features such as automatic climate control, USB/iPod integration and a leather-stitched steering wheel. Endowed with 215Nm of torque expect it to hit 100km/h in 10.9-seconds.
Honda CR-Z Hybrid: 117g/km
One of my best cars of 2010 and the complete antithesis to the terminally dull Toyota Prius, Honda’s R299 900 “sports” hybrid injects some much-needed fun into saving the planet. Now while it’s certainly no sports car in terms of all-out speed, its fine handling and fruity exhaust note certainly make it a lot of fun to pedal around your favourite back roads. Interestingly styled and packaged, this sharkish little coupé also encourages you to drive responsibly thanks to the implementation of some genuinely engaging driver aids.
Audi 2.0 TDI Efficiency Ambition: 119g/km
Normally I’d recommend a BMW 3-Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class over an Audi A4 but with the cleanest eco-credentials in its class, the R350 000 Efficiency model makes a convincing case for itself. For not only is it frugal if driven with care, it’s crisp lines are complemented with one of the best built interiors in the business. As to be expected the Four Rings’ options list is vast but you do get niceties like Milano leather seats, cruise control and sports suspension as standard fare. Spec sensibly and you’ve got a winner.