Expert Car Picks: Which 'clean' car is best? Here's what we'd choose
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The NZ government’s Clean Car Standard announced a few months ago comes into full effect in 2025, assuming there are no changes between now and then. Let’s put aside the practicalities and challenges of that for a small non-car-manufacturing like NZ for now, and just take a look at the models that are eligible for the new mandate of emissions, of 105g/km – or 4.5l/100km.
We ran a story and a full list of all the cars currently for sale that meet the standard here, so we thought we should choose out own cars from the list of 48 cars, of the 1000+ different models for sale, that currently meet the standard.
We purposely omitted the 15 EVs on sale from this list, as that was somewhat cheating for our purpose, bringing our total shopping list of cars, basically consisting of hybrids and PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), down to just 33 vehicles.
So what would we choose with our own money? Read on to find out…
Dean: Toyota C-HR GR Sport Hybrid
It had me at the colour, as I’m a bit of a sucker for white cars with black wheels, and in the two-tone (white, or red and black), it’s very now. I quite like the C-HR’s modern look and city suited size and the GR Sport model makes it even sharper. Though my actual short list was down to five, including the Porsche Panamera (Andrew nicked that), the Outlander PHEV (nice, just 42g, but...), MINI Countryman Cooper SE (49g), and the new Yaris Cross Hybrid (86g), but it’s my money I’m spending, so I’m perfectly happy to fork out $41,990 for the GR C-HR… yes, I know that’s a lot of letters.
Sadly it’s lacking the excitement of the GR Yaris, thought it does look the part, and when I’m stuck in gridlock traffic, a GR C-HR is just as fast as a Supra. So let’s just skim past the 72kW/142kW (90kW with the hybrid boost) from its 1.8-litre four. It’ll also do a paltry 3.8l/100km around town where the hybrid works best (or 4.3l/100km/97g on the official combined cycle).
GR bumper, honeycomb mesh grille, spoiler and 19-inch wheels all up the looks, and while the ‘track tuned’ claim might induce a few smirks, there are subtle improvements to the steering, and springs and shocks to make it a little tighter. Personally, I’d be happy with the standard set-up, as it’d never see a track.
The GR adds enough extras to get my attention, including the GR seats, leather wheel and shifter, plus all the usual Toyota gear like the Safety Sense suite (radar cruise and road sign recognition are my favourites), and of course the price guarantee.
I know, it probably won’t get your vote when a Porsche is in the mix, but keep in mind, it’s OUR money we’re spending on these Expert Car Picks, and Andrew is looking at buying a house, and I sorely doubt his partner Anna would allow him to spend double the deposit on a Panamera.
Vote GR C-HR for Clean Car President!
David: Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
Polestar used to be Volvo’s motorsport division. Now it’s an arm of the company creating future-proofed performance Electric Vehicles (EVs).
That puts the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered perfectly into context. It’s based on the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which means 46km of pure-electric commuting power and a 69g/km CO2 figure: in your face, Clean Car Standard.
But while it may be an electric SUV, the XC60 Polestar Engineered still has old-school performance credentials. It packs 311kW from an engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged, can hit 100km/h in 5.2 and boasts 21-inch wheels, huge Akebono brakes, a massive strut brace under bonnet and suspension with Ohlins Dual Flow shock absorbers that can be adjusted to any one of 22 different settings by hand. On each individual wheel.
A lot of it is completely over the top in other words. A bit silly. They’re often the best kinds of cars.
But the XC60 also still offers all the comfort and practicality of the standard XC60, state of the art safety technology and gold valve caps for the tyres. It is $129,990… but did I mention the gold bits?
Andrew: Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
If I’m being perfectly honest, this Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid was actually my third choice - why? Because wagons are better.
My first choice would’ve been the Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered because it’s a great looking wagon that not only falls into the category thanks to its plug-in hybrid power train, but is also very fast wagon. Unfortunately, Volvo New Zealand must have pulled this wagon from its line-up just recently, as it doesn’t appear on the website anymore.
Given that the Volvo is already North of $100K, I’m playing with imaginary money here, so my second choice would’ve been the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo as it’s an even faster wagon with more than 500kW on tap. But just like Swedes, it seems that Porsche New Zealand didn’t find enough success with the Sport Turismo and have pulled it from the line-up.
So I’m left with the regular Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, which is still a hefty bit of kit, but it comes at a rather hefty cost.
Powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain that utilizes electric power alongside a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 to produce a whopping 514kW and 870Nm, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a four-door rocket. These crazy figures allow the family hauler to hit 100km/h in 3.2 seconds before topping out at 315km/h.
In terms of emissions and economy, the E-Hybrid comes in at 79g/km and will average around 2.4L/100km, which is ridiculously considering the twin-turbo V8 onboard.
Then comes the issue of price, and it should be now clear that I’m living in a fantasy world if I’m considering buying one. The ‘cheap’ Panamera 4S E-Hyrbid starts from $262,300 and uses a V6 instead of the V8. But if you want the full hog, you’ve got to go with the Turbo S E-Hybrid which starts at $382,400.