Revealed! Lowest polluting petrol cars UAE

You can’t afford one of few hybrids available in the UAE but you want to reduce the amount of toxic CO2 you’re pumping into the air (you know, the deadly greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change) – what do you do? Read our guide on which cars available in the UAE produce the lowest amounts of CO2…
Words by Adrian Maul.

In the last issue of Awakenings magazine (Sept- Nov 2013), we looked at hybrid cars in the UAE and I concluded that the most eco-friendly cars available in the Emirates were high-end luxury brands such as the hybrid Porsche, Lexus, Fisker Karma, and soon the Maclaren P1.

However, many people can’t afford a high-end hybrid so now and in future issues, I reveal the most environmentally-conscious, lowest CO2 emitting vehicles available from petrol and hybrid cars in all classes, from superminis to SUVs. That’s a lot of cars so for this issue, I look at the most efficient cars in the following classes:
* Superminis
* Small, medium and large saloons
* Small, medium and large prestige

These cars may be hybrids or exclusively powered by petrol engines that have good fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions. I have excluded diesels as the manufacturers claim that because the quality of diesel available in the UAE is poor and it’s significantly more expensive than petrol, they do not tend to supply diesels for this market.

I have only taken into account cars and engines that are available in the UAE, and graded them for their economy and emissions, but if there’s a car just outside the top three that’s worth a mention for some reason, I’ve highlighted it.

Where available, I have used the European standards for fuel consumption (Directive 93/116/EC) and CO2 emissions since these statistics are not formalised for the UAE. The fuel consumption figure I have used is the combined figure which is an average of the urban and extra urban parts of the test, weighted by the distances covered in each part. Both parts of the test are run on a rolling road as follows:

This class of car falls between the very small city cars such as the Fiat 500 or Smart car. There is a wide range available across the manufacturers, and for this survey I considered 21 different cars. The Mitsubishi Mirage wins the Supermini class. It has a 1.2 litre 3 cylinder engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) wide ratio gearbox to keep the engine speed optimal for performance and fuel economy. Not the quickest car on the block, well actually fairly slow. For those wanting a little more agility and style then the Audi A1 would make a good option, still with very impressive fuel economy and emission figures, but with a bit more oomph to get you along that little bit quicker. One to also consider would be the Alfa Romeo Mito, which is a little quicker again than the Audi A1, but still returns good economy and emissions at 5.6l/km and CO2 of 129g/km.

* The urban test covers a distance of 4km with a series of accelerations, steady speeds, decelerations and idling. Maximum speed is 50kmh, average speed 19kmh.

* The extra urban test covers a distance of 7km, again with a series of accelerations, steady speeds, decelerations and idling. Maximum speed is 120kmh, average speed 63kmh.

Small family car
The small family car class are between 4.1m and 4.75m long, they sit four adults in relative comfort. Again this class includes a large number of vehicles and for this survey I considered 36 cars of which the iconic VW Golf is the winner. VW have made great advances with petrol engine technology, their TSI engine range which are turbo-charged and sometimes super-charged as well, combined with direct fuel injection have proved to provide a very small engine capable of great economy, low emissions and remarkable power output. For those on a smaller budget then the Toyota and Kia are also a good option.

MediumLarge Size Family Car
I have combined the medium and large family cars as there are so few large family cars to stand-alone. This size of car comfortably seats four to five adults, they tend to have much more luggage space than their smaller counterparts. I considered 25 cars in this class.

The winner for this class with impressively low economy and CO2 emission figures was the Mazda 6. The Peugeot is another good example of how smaller engine development has come along in recent years, with the ability of a smaller engine out-performing on speed and acceleration much larger engines. Peugeot uses variable valve technology combined with a high pressure turbo and stop start technology to produce smaller highly efficient engines that can effectively compete on performance with much larger engines, whilst reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Premium Compact
The premium compact class of cars is fairly exclusive; I only found 12 cars to compare here across a number of manufacturers that were primarily European. This class of car is aimed at two adults sitting in the front. Rear seats could fit children but may be a little cramped for larger adults. The winner here is the first hybrid to be
encountered, and as a result the Lexus with its hybrid transmission produces extremely good figures that beat its competitors hands down. The Lexus CT is not a plug-in hybrid, so relies on using the engine and regenerative forces from coasting and braking to recharge the batteries. For those of you that feel the Alfa or BMW in second and third place are a little too small then there is a choice of the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 which are a very close joint fourth with identical fuel consumption and emissions.

Executive Car
This class of car is probably the most popular class of the premium brands with cars that can transport up to five adults in comfort. These again are primarily from Europe with a few Japanese marques in there also. I looked at 13 different cars in this class. All of these cars are very close to one another for economy and emissions and there is very little to separate them, though the Mercedes is the winner. The Audi and BMW are very close joint third place, but the car also well worth a mention is the second placed Lexus as through its hybrid technology it is significantly more powerful, yet with very favourable economy and emissions figures.

Large, executive cars
This is the crème de la crème of luxury motoring – very important for the UAE due to the number of affluent residents. For this class of car I looked at 17 different vehicles from manufacturers across the globe. All of these cars sit five adults very comfortably and are often used as limousines or chauffer-driven private vehicles.

In the large executive class it is interesting that the top three are all German manufactured, the top two of course are hybrids. The winner though, by a very long way, is the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.
Its plug-in hybrid technology beats every other car in the survey for fuel efficiency and emissions. This class of car tends to be plagued with vehicles with large engines although BMW are launching a 4.5l 7 Series hybrid and Lexus produce a 5.0l hybrid in this class, which are efficient cars for their performance, but unfortunately do not make the top three here.

The overall winner is the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid. The Porsche benefits from plug-in hybrid technology so it can be recharged from a domestic or commercial style electric socket making recharging the batteries much cheaper and more efficient than relying on the engine and brake regeneration alone. When asked about Porsche’s policy on environmentally friendly cars in the Middle East Christer Ekberg, the Managing Director of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, stated, “Porsche engineers are continually looking for ways how to lower fuel consumption, further reduce emissions of pollutants and CO2 and incorporate more recoverable materials.” 

The manufacturer with most cars in the top three is BMW, their efficient twin turbo engines produces high power whilst maintaining good economy. BMW is about to start supplying hybrid cars to the UAE so may well perform even better next time round.

The manufacturer with the most hybrids on offer in the UAE is Lexus with four models, two of which made the grade into our top three of class. With the exception of the CT, Lexus interestingly use hybrid technology to make larger engines able to compete with their smaller counterparts on economy and emissions, but as a result have significantly more powerful cars offering a solution to the environmentally-minded driver who likes a little bit of performance in their car.

Out of the 19 cars listed here, nine are manufactured in Germany, which could give the impression that premium German brands are leading the way on environmentally-friendly cars, however the reality is that none of the mainstream manufacturers that produce hybrid cars, such as Toyota, Nissan, Peugeot, Chevrolet etc. have made them available in the UAE yet; all claiming that the infrastructure necessary is not in place to support them. I feel that this is a fairly feeble excuse, if the high-end brands such as Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes and soon BMW can do it, why can’t they? Had I written this article for the UK then it would have a completely different set of results, check out to see what is available there.

Interestingly though, Toyota has supplied 20 hybrid Camry to the RTA following a three-year trial, which were found to have saved around 33 per cent on fuel and emissions over their petrol counterparts. Nissan has also announced at the Dubai International Motor Show that it will be supplying hybrid Pathfinders in the UAE shortly. Manufacturers are starting to realise that there is a market for eco-friendly cars in the UAE, they just need that little extra push from buyers.

Petrol engines have advanced significantly over the past few years as a result of stricter worldwide emission standards. Many manufacturers are now producing smaller more efficient engines with the same power of much larger engines. This is achieved through a number of techniques:

  • Compressing the air prior to combustion, thus increasing the amount of oxygen available to burn. This can be done with turbochargers, superchargers, or in some cases a combination of both.
  • Direct fuel injection where the petrol is pressurised and the amount of fuel injected into the cylinder accurately controlled depending on the engine load.
  • Improved transmission by using gearboxes, which maintain the engine at its optimum efficiency for more of the time.
  • Using tyres with low rolling resistance. Tyre manufactures like Bridgestone have also made great improvements to tyre technology recognising that reducing the resistance between the tyre and the road surface contributes significantly to a car’s overall performance.
  • Reducing the resistance between moving parts by using highly machined and polished moving parts, combined with efficient lubricants in the engine and transmission of cars.
  • Improved aerodynamics of cars reduces their resistance to moving through the air and consequently the load on the engine, ultimately improving fuel efficiency and emissons.

Lowest polluting petrol cars UAE


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