Even five years ago the answer to that question would have been "not very much". Maybe an entry level Korean hatchback like the Hyundai Atoz or a ghastly Perodua - something tiny, tinny, wretched and altogether hopeless. Times have changed though with the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Skoda abandoning the super-budget market as their cars have improved and their corporate ambitions have expanded.
The electric car has failed, right? Err, no. In the USA Tesla’s Model S is selling faster than hot cakes while in the UK the Nissan Leaf has finally become affordable thanks to production moving from Japan to Sunderland and the introduction of a battery lease scheme. Now Renault has launched it’s first serious mass-market electric car called the Zoe and it’s on sale in the UK now.
Subaru BRZ has recently won the Wheels Car of the Year award, a symbol of the widespread praise this car has been earning in the Australian market. But is such recognition deserved? And why has the BRZ bagged its second award Down Under, also having been named previously News Limited Car of the Year 2012? We believe that a big part of the BRZ’s success comes from its boldness and innovative approach. And these elements alone, in an automotive industry which at times risks repetition and safe solutions, are to be welcomed positively.
Only the most rabid electric car fan would argue that the current state of battery technology and the absence of a national recharging infrastructure isn’t a major impediment to the widespread uptake of electric motoring. On paper the new Vauxhall Ampera has the perfect answer to the problem by providing medium range zero-emission electric motoring and long range petrol engine flexibility in the same vehicle.
When it comes to hybrids like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight it’s tough not to get hung up on the conclusion that they only exist because Americans refuse to buy diesels. After all a modern turbo-diesel is a cheaper and more efficient way of getting the most from a gallon of juice than Toyota’s clever but complex Hybrid Synergy Drive. Don’t get me wrong, plug-in hybrids like Vauxhall’s Ampera and Toyota’s forthcoming Plug-In Prius which allow you to move twixt A and B using electricity generated someplace else, ideally by a wind turbine, are great, but the traditional hybrid? I’ve yet be convinced. Toyota’s new Yaris Hybrid may change that though.
Peugeot's new 3008 HYbrid4 looks perfectly normal on the outside and indeed if you pop open the bonnet you will find a perfectly normal 163bhp 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel which as you would expect in this day and age also has a start/stop system. But plonk yourself down on the floor and stick your head under the back end and you will find some interesting and unique battery-powered hybrid voodoo.