Matt Greenop: Hybrids not the only way to turn green

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The award-winning full-electric Nissan LEAF
The award-winning full-electric Nissan LEAF

Would you buy a hybrid? It's a question that motoring writers get asked often. There are two very separate schools of thought when it comes to the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Either you like the technology and its green ramifications, or you're sitting on the fence while development continues.

Personally, there aren't too many hybrids that I've really enjoyed driving. While the fuel economy and environmental considerations are valid, a car should still be fun to drive. I don't believe most of the current hybrid offering is up to par with its fossil-fuelled counterparts.

Getting good mileage and giving the planet a loving pat on the head is worth the effort, but hybrids are just one type of vehicle capable of doing this. Many diesel-powered machines also offer exceptional mileage, and as they're meeting stringent European emissions rules they run clean.

Even petrol-powered cars are cleaning up their act and we're seeing a renewed focus on turbocharging smaller engines to give better economy without sacrificing performance while stop-start technology is being adopted.

Hybrids have their advantages - low-slung battery position makes for a lower centre of gravity and this offers on-rails handling if executed properly. Honda's little CR-Z sports hatch is a great example of this.

And then there's the influx of electric vehicles. Nissan's tiny Leaf, Mitsubishi's iMiev are great for zero-impact city motoring, but aren't going to get a driver smiling on a nice open country road.

We're all going to make motoring compromises in the coming decade, but how soon are you going to make the jump from traditional petrol power to bit-of-both hybrid technology or the all-out foliage-fondling EVs?

What do you think? Vote on the hybrid poll here.

- NZ Herald

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