New cars trump their predecessors when it comes to being environmentally friendly, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). A study by the organisation shows today’s motors are more efficient and less polluting, despite being heavier than their ancestors.
Seven makers – BMW, Mercedes, VW, Ford, Vauxhall, Toyota and MINI – supplied figures for current and older models. And the results are surprising. BMW’s 318i is over a third more economical and produces 25 per cent less CO2 than its slower 1998 counterpart. And it achieves this despite tipping the scales at 1,360kg, which is 215kg more than the older version. The Vauxhall Astra has also found its waistline expanding. In 17 years, it has risen by 301kg, but seen a 92 per cent drop in harmful nitrogen oxide exhaust gas.
The increases in weight have been down to safety improvements. All the models looked at featured far more kit for drivers and passengers. The latest Mercedes C-Class has seven airbags, active head restraints, ESP and brake assist, while the 1991 190E only had anti-lock brakes.