John Scott Lewinski makes the argument that fully electric cars are costly and create human rights and energy concerns, so maybe a non-electric car that keeps fuel consumption and carbon footprint contained is worth considering
If you look closely, cracks are forming across the dream temple that the green movement and some automakers built for the panacea of electric cars. While the fashionable, battery-driven dream of zero fossil fuel transportation seemed so promising even a year ago, some harsh realities came along to unplug the buzz.
Some skeptics cite the still considerable additional cost of most fully electric vehicles. Other analysts worry about the state of the electrical grids in many countries and the overall ability to handle millions of charging passenger vehicles. Finally, there are growing concerns over the planet’s mineral supplies for battery manufacturing and the human rights concerns of how humans are employed to mine those ingredients.
"Concerns include the cost of fully electric cars, the ability of electrical grids to handle millions of charging vehicles and the human rights of miners of minerals used for battery manufacturing"
With that in mind, if you’re a car shopper who wants to avoid the electric market for now—while keeping your fuel consumption costs and carbon footprint contained—there are cars out there that fulfill both requirements nicely.
Volvo V60 Cross Country
This is one of the last of a dying breed, while remaining a comfortable, safe, reliable and useful automobile. A true estate car (or the beloved “station wagon” in the US market), the V60 is a Volvo “mild hybrid.” It simply means this V60 recovers energy produced when braking and stores it in a 48V battery that can team with the petrol engine to reduce fuel consumption and emissions (while scoring about 30mpg on the roadways).
"The V60 recovers energy produced when braking and stores it in a 48V battery that can team with the petrol engine to reduce fuel consumption and emissions"
Admittedly, a little pricier than your average consumer saloon or crossover at about £48,000, the extra cash grabs you a proper Volvo—a brand name synonymous with safety and comfort since its historic introduction of the three-point seatbelt in 1959. The vehicle rolls out off the line with a Bower & Wilkins audio system, a panoramic moon roof, a 360-degree overhead camera, blindspot monitoring and more airbags than you can shake a soused herring at in downtown Stockholm.
Driving a modestly priced and efficient petrol-powered vehicle need not stomp out the simple pleasure of driving. Out in Hiroshima, the minds making Mazdas long ago concerned themselves with making their machines as fun as they are fuel efficient and clean running. Available in the UK and European markets, the Mazda CX-60 maintains that entertaining tradition with a tight, peppy and well-balanced ride for about £42,000.
To keep the CX-60 frugal in fuel consumption, Mazda put its Skyactiv tech to work. Mazda builds high-compression, turbocharged engines that produce more power out of a smaller block—using less petrol and reducing emissions. The CX-60 employs a Skyactiv G 2.5-litre petrol engine aided by a 100kW electric motor and 17.8kWh battery. All that turns the CX-60 into the most powerful road car Mazda’s ever produced, with a 0-60 mph time of about 5.8 seconds.
"Mazda builds high-compression, turbocharged engines that produce more power out of a smaller block—using less petrol and reducing emissions"
Mazda’s stylish aesthetics were so aggressive over recent years that they forced other Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Honda to up their game and make their cars more eye-catching. The CX-60’s sleek, sophisticated lines and low profile for a crossover or small SUV keep Mazda ahead of that Asiatic pack.
Credit: BMW X1
Before you raise an eyebrow that we included a BMW in what otherwise seems like a sensible, consumer-friendly collection, the Bavarians make their X1 crossover to serve as a more budget-friendly, entry-level morsel of meticulous precision. Starting around £34,000, the striking, refined, and sometimes thrilling BMW X1 is available in pure petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid versions.
BMW calls the X1 a “crossover”, a vehicle class that already replaced the estate or station wagon entirely in the global market (except for that Volvo holding the line above). Indeed, crossovers threaten to wipe the sedan from showrooms. This dominant breed of compact SUVs is the urban choice for a ride with more space than a saloon but less bulk than a full-size SUV.
However, a lot of this crossover talk is mere semantics. Some larger crossovers are really full-size SUVs, and many smaller versions are essentially sporty hatchbacks. We can put the BMW X1 in that latter category. Whether you choose the traditional fuel or hybrid versions, you can end up with a clean-running, fuel-efficient pack of driving technology that can produce as much as 55mpg.
Regardless of the powertrain you choose from petrol to diesel to hybrid, all versions include the BMW Operating System—a touch-based user interface using a multi-panel in dash screen. Popular features such as cloud-based navigation; a complete set of infotainment apps; power everything and airbag surrounding all passengers; and wireless charging.
Banner photo: Mazda CX60
Read more: Should your next car be a hybrid one?
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