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Top 8 environmentally-friendly cars

By Anna Kantilaftas, 17 Oct 2016 Car Advice

plants coming out of car exhaust pipe

There was a strong electric vehicle vibe at the recent Paris Motor Show, but Australia still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to electron-powered automobiles. Eco-minded Aussies have a few options, though.

The low-emissions lifestyle hasn’t really caught on in Australia yet. While other countries may offer tax deductions, rebates and other financial incentives for motorists to convert to a more environmentally vehicle like a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric car, Australia’s state and federal bodies stubbornly refuse to embrace emissions-free motoring.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have choices. If you’re in the market for something a bit greener than the average car, here are eight choices that might tickle your inner tree-hugger.


It may look bland, but the Toyota Corolla is one of Australia’s favourite cars for a reason – it’s a safe choice. Add a hybrid powertrain into the mix and you’ve got the attention of the eco-conscious.

It’s one of the most affordable hybrids around and, while somewhat basic and unsophisticated, it still offers the versatility and practicality the Corolla is known for.

Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Pro: Price; practicality.
It’s a little bland and you won’t stand out from the crowd; performance.
Fuel Efficiency: 4.1L/100km
Price: $26,990


Toyota’s other hybrid hatch consumes even less than the Corolla, thanks to a slightly more modern hybrid powertrain and aero-optimised exterior. We also like that it cleverly converts braking energy back into electricity, but the Prius is an expensive way of satisfying your green itch and there’s no plug-in capability.

Toyota Prius

Pro: Frugal drivetrain; good standard safety; distinctive design.
Con: Expensive; modest highway performance; runs on petrol and doesn’t have a plug-in option.
Fuel efficiency: 3.4L/100km
Price: From $34,990


It’s the cheapest pure-electric vehicle available in Australia, and totally worth a look-in if you’re sticking to city runabouts. While it sells slowly over here, the Nissan Leaf is, to date, the world’s top-selling electric car.

Nissan leaf

Pro: It’s cheaper than most other cars of the same size.
Cons: It doesn’t go the distance of some other all-electric cars.
Range: 170km 
Price: From $39,990


It’s a hybrid SUV, and anything this size that clocks a fuel efficiency figure under 5L/100km is a great option for anyone interested in keeping the greenhouse effect at bay. But while the Outlander normally comes with a seven seater option, the hybrid PHEV does not.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Pro: Regenerative braking; spacious; fuel efficient SUV.
No seven seat option; price.
Fuel Efficiency:
Price: From$47,490


The A3 plug-in may be conservative on the outside, but it’s stunning on the inside with great technology and classy design. The 1.4-litre petrol-electric hybrid is the most fuel efficient option of the A3 range, but is also costly – it’s the most expensive Audi A3 hatch besides the RS3 performance flagship.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Pro: Good acceleration; long range; produces little noise.
Con: Expensive; uses a lot more fuel on long country trips.
Fuel Efficiency: 1.6L/100km
From $62,490

BMW i3

The BMW i3 is offered as an EV or a plug-in hybrid, and recently underwent an update to extend its range to a possible 390km. It’s compact but boasts an avant-garde design that’s cutting edge for the conservative German brand.

BMW i3

Pro: Increased range for 2017 and comes with a range of stylish options.
Con: Expensive for its size.
Range: 245km(battery-electric) 370km (range-extender hybrid)
Price: From $63,900


The Tesla Model S offers the longest range in the EV space, with six variants available with varying battery capacities. Tesla added two models this year with the entry-level 60 and 60D to offer buyers a ‘more affordable’ option - although still expect to pay upwards of $100k. The Model S also offers the biggest pure-electric range and is the fastest EV clocking 0-100km in as little as 2.7 seconds.

Telsa Model S

Pro: Biggest range; fastest EV; Autopilot.
Con: It’s expensive.
Range: from 339km to 512km
Price: From $114,100


It’s stylish, it’s spacious and it’s got seven seats. And, with the T8-spec petrol-electric hybrid engine and plug-in charging capability, it’ll be the most fuel efficient seven-seater on any leafy suburban street.

Volvo XC90

Pro: Luxurious and stylish; packed with safety features; fuel efficient for its size
Con: Pricey
Fuel Efficiency: 2.1L/100km
Price: From $120,900