CO2 champions: best cars for real-world CO2 emissions

Official figures are one thing, but which are the cars that put out the least CO2 in the real world?

CO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissionsNo matter how impressive a car’s claimed CO2 figures are, the planet won’t be saved if they’re not actually achievable in the real world. That’s exactly what Volkswagen tried to circumvent with its emissions-cheating defeat device, and is now paying many billions as the price for this subterfuge.

British company Emissions Analytics has thus developed a new set of tests that aim to showcase the actual on-road emissions of Britain’s cars.

We’ve already exposed the worst performers, but it seems only fair to also showcase the best of the best – the brand with the lowest real-world CO2, and those with the least variance from official figures: the ‘honesty factor’, if you like. First, then, it’s the best performers. Which car companies emit the lowest levels of CO2?

10: DaciaCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Don’t want to spend much on a new car but still want to put out manageable levels of CO2 in the real world? Choose Dacia, whose range emits an average of 171g/km in real-world tests.

9: Alfa RomeoCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Want something a bit sportier and more emotive? Try Alfa Romeo, whose range emits 169g/km in real-world tests. This is helped by it only selling two relatively compact cars – how will the launch of the new Giulia affect things?

8: FiatCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Fiat is the volume sister company to Alfa Romeo. Its range, surprisingly, emits the same 169g/km CO2 figure in the real world, but it gets the nod over the premium brand here because the variance from claimed figures is less.

7: SkodaCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Skoda is a brand that trades on practicality and spaciousness. So it’s good to learn picking one of its practical cars won’t hurt your real-world CO2 emissions. It’s the seventh-best brand in the UK here.

6: MazdaCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Mazda may sell lots of sporty MX-5 roadsters, but that doesn’t mean its range-average CO2 emissions suffer in the real world. On average, Mazda cars emit 168g/km CO2.

5: SeatCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Seat is the sporty sibling of Skoda and its range of cars emit slightly less CO2, on average. The variance is a little higher over official figures, though.

4: PeugeotCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Peugeot has been working hard on cutting CO2 emissions of its cars both on paper and in the real world. This seems to be paying dividends on the road. It’s the fourth best brand here.

3: SuzukiCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Small car specialist Suzuki is a real star. Not only are its real-world CO2 emissions capped at 161g/km, they also show the lowest variance from official figures in this top 10 collection.

2: ToyotaCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Toyota is a green-focused volume brand and, although its CO2 figures show a variance factor of 2.6 over official stats, it’s still much lower than most other volume brands at 160g/km.

1: CitroenCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

The clear leader for emitting low levels of CO2 in the real world is Citroen. Its margin of superiority over any other brand is hefty, with its range of cars emitting just 152g/km in real-world testing. A really impressive performance indeed from the increasingly innovative French car company.

The car brands with real-world CO2 closest to claimed figuresCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

If you’re a car brand that has high official CO2 figures, the last thing you want is for those to go even higher in the real world. Emissions Analytics has looked at this too – and revealed the top 10 brands with the lowest variance from official figures – the best ‘honesty factors’, if you like. Some of them are bad, but at least they’re little worse in practice than the claim to be…

10: MitsubishiCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Nissan has just bought a majority stake in its Japanese rival Mitsubishi. It’s only been able to do this because Mitsubishi has been caught lying in fuel economy tests for the past 25 years. So Nissan will be pleased to discover UK figures show Mitsubishi’s real-world CO2 emissions to have the 10th-lowest variance to those claimed…

9: ChevroletCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Chevrolet cars, on average, emit 180g/km CO2 in real-world testing. This is closer than many brands to those claimed in the official figures. Good to know if you’re buying a cheap secondhand model: the brand is no longer sold new in the UK.

8: PorscheCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Sports car manufacturer Porsche naturally has rather a high real-world CO2 average. But the divergence from claimed figures is less than most high-volume, low CO2 brands.

7: LexusCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Lexus is a premium car company famed for its green-focused hybrids. Some question whether these actually deliver in the real world: Emissions Analytics’ figures suggest they do, with the seventh lowest divergence from official figures in the real world. Better than rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz…

6: SsangYongCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

On average, SsangYong models emit 206g/km CO2 in real-world testing. This shows less variance than many other specialist SUV manufacturers. And its variance factor of 1.8…

5: SuzukiCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

…is matched by small car specialist Suzuki – which boasts significantly lower real-world CO2 emissions of 161g/km.

4: HondaCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Honda is yet another Japanese brand in the top 10 car makers whose real-world CO2 figures show the least variance from official stats. On average, Honda vehicles emit 180/km CO2.

3: JeepCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

The top three brands are all impressive. SUV specialist Jeep may emit a steep 200g/km CO2 in the real world, but the variance from claimed figures is just 1.1. Two British specialists go one better, though.

2: Aston MartinCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Aston Martin’s real-world CO2 figures are ultra-high at 314g/km. But the variance factor is a perfect 1.0, suggesting that it is little worse in the real world than the figures claim.

1: LotusCO2 champions: best cars for real-world emissions

Topping our list here is Lotus. Its real-world CO2 has, like Aston Martin, an almost ideal 1.0 variance factor over official stats. And those emissions are significantly lower than Aston, at 177g/km, adding to its green credentials. Despite its high-performance specialist sports cars, it’s actually the second-lowest brand for CO2 in the best-performing real world car makers.

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Richard Aucockhttps://www.motoringresearch.com/
Richard is director at Motoring Research. He has been with us since 2001, and has been a motoring journalist even longer. He won the IMCO Motoring Writer of the Future Award in 1996 and the acclaimed Sir William Lyons Award in 1998. Both awards are run by the Guild of Motoring Writers and Richard is currently chairman of the world's largest organisation for automotive media professionals. Richard is also a juror for World Car Awards and the UK juror for the AUTOBEST awards.

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