Eco-conscious Katherine Stott seeks to make her daily commute without inducing worrying frowns from Mother Nature.

We arranged three “Green” B-segment cars and threw the keys to our reader. Environmental-friendliness was high on the list of criteria – as well as value and most importantly, “wow” factor.

Although hybrids are touted as the best way to save fuel and be kind to the planet, they are expensive – and don’t seem to offer a significant cut in consumption compared to petrol counterparts. In addition to a hybrid model, we took a look at a small capacity turbocharged car, as well as a diesel model.

Toyota Yaris HSD

Hybrid Hype

The Car: 2012 Toyota Yaris HSD

The Engine: 1.5-litre petrol, combined with an electric motor (74kW).

The Credentials: Toyota claims 3.8l/100km for their baby hybrid.

The Payment: R209 900

The Mileage: 2000 kilometres

The Dealership: Toyota Rivonia

Katherine Says: I loved this car simply because I know that driving it would have the least impact on the environment in terms of its carbon footprint. It was a little strange not having the sound of the engine whirring in the background, but you get used to it and the silence becomes somewhat peaceful. The only thing that puts me off is the cost; I know you’re paying for the technology, but it seems that caring for the environment always comes at a price.

We Say: Toyota brings hybrid novelty to the B-segment. Whisper-quiet silence and zero emissions fill the air when you’re cruising around town, a 1.5-litre petrol engine kicks in when you want more go. When we tested the Yaris HSD last year, we deemed it expensive and overrated. But on the second-hand market, having taken the inevitable price-knock, it’s a more attractive purchase.

Audi A1 1.2TSI

Practical Petrol

The Car: Audi A1 1.2TFSI

The Engine: 1.2-litre, turbocharged and supercharged (63kW).

The Credentials: Audi claims 4.4l/100km for the entry-level A1. It also has features like stop-start, to help you save fuel when stationary at traffic lights.

The Payment: R199 950

The Mileage: 9000 kilometres

The Dealership: Pinnacle Cars

Katherine Says: This car is beautiful; so much power in such a little package. While I wasn’t 100% convinced that its impact on the environment would match that of a hybrid car, there are certain features that make it a lot more attractive in that area of focus. The stop-start mechanism not only saves petrol, but reduces emissions and the fact that it goes further on a tank of fuel reduces the reliance on our natural resources.

We Say: The dainty A1 is premium and punchy. It benefits from solid Audi build quality and although it may sound diminutive, its fizzy 1.2-litre engine proves that size doesn’t count. Audi was one of the early adopters of the now common practice, of scaling down engine capacities and throwing in forced induction.

Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion

Diesel Delight

The Car: Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDi BlueMotion.

The Engine: 1.2-litre, turbocharged diesel (55kW).

The Credentials: Endowed with more aerodynamic exterior bits, capable of 800 kilometres on a full tank. Volkswagen claims 3.4l/100km.

The Payment: R184 995

The Mileage: 5200 kilometres

The Dealership: Lindsay Saker Hyde Park

Katherine Says: I’ve never been a fan of diesel engines – at all – but this car made me view my opinions from a different perspective. This was another example of how cars are being manufactured using technology to improve all circumstances. I’m no expert, but apparently the emissions from this car are less than that of a similar petrol counterpart and the energy efficiency is vastly improved. It had a nice kick to it, but I definitely preferred the previous two options.    

We Say: With a reputation beyond reproach, Volkswagen is golden. The BlueMotion is a teetotaler that promises long intervals between diesel fill-ups. It’s also endowed with features like start-stop, and a more streamlined front grille and alloy-wheels in comparison to the standard Polo. Being a Volkswagen, you won’t struggle to sell it when the time comes.

The Trio

The Conclusion

Katherine enjoyed the three cars we picked for her to sample and found it hard to pick a single winner. From the environmental perspective, it was the Toyota Yaris HSD that spoke to her. The prestige-badged Audi offered the most exciting driving experience and she wanted to keep driving it even after the test drive had ended. Although Katherine doesn’t favour diesel engines, the little Polo BlueMotion helped changed her perception on the technology. But we’ve got a strong feeling that when it comes to the crunch, the fuel-sipping petrol-engined Audi would earn the spot in her garage.

Brenwin Naidu