The finalists in this year’s Australia’s Best Cars have been found to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly ever in the history of the awards.
The average fuel consumption per 100 kilometres for the 45 vehicles is just 7.1 litres, down from 7.4 last year.
The average emissions output figure is down to 175 grams per kilometre from 179 in 2011.
The low average figures come despite the inclusion of high performance V8 sports cars, large SUVs and all-terrain vehicles.
Australia’s Best Cars is the nation’s most comprehensive and reliable vehicle testing and awards program.
It is run by Australia’s motoring organisations which represent more than seven million members.
According to chief judge Mark Borlace the considerable improvements in efficiency have been the result of advances in petrol drivetrains rather than the use of alternate fuel technology.
The number of traditional petrol-powered finalists had increased, Mr Borlace said.
There were 24 petrol-powered vehicles in the 2012 field of finalists compared with 22 in the 2011 Australia’s Best Cars testing.
“Australia’s motorists are the ultimate winners as car makers strive to find new ways to make conventional technology work better,” Mr Borlace said.
“The breakthroughs include everything from the use of force induction to reduced weight and new materials.
“This year’s Australia’s Best Cars finalists epitomise the continued focus on fuel and environmental efficiency to the benefit not only of consumers but communities.”
Mr Borlace said improvements have been made using turbocharger technology.
“Combining a relatively small turbocharger with a small displacement engine can match the performance of a higher displacement engine without the efficiency downfalls,” Mr Borlace said.
“The most obvious example of this in the 2012 awards is the BMW 320i which has added a turbocharger to a 2.0-litre displacement engine.
“The new car achieves an extra 20 kilowatts of power – and has taken its fuel consumption down by 1.6 litres per 100 kilometres [to 6.0] and emissions down by 35g/km [to 141],” Mr Borlace said.
Other manufacturers had refined their drivetrains to achieve better results, without forced induction.
“Hyundai’s new 1.8-litre engine in the i30 has significantly improved fuel consumption and emissions output figures, while improving power over the previous 2.0-litre model,” Mr Borlace said.
“The BMW M135i and the Toyota Aurion AT-X have made considerable gains in efficiency with existing engines.
“The M135i’s engine produces an extra 10 kilowatts, uses half a litre less [over 100km], and produces 10 fewer grams of CO2 per kilometre over the same engine’s previous generation.
The Toyota Aurion has reduced its fuel consumption by 6.1 per cent over the previous generation.
“Toyota highlights the use of lighter materials, re-specification of engine oil, and a new lock-up start mechanism on the automatic transmission.
“The automotive industry is responding to the greater social emphasis on the need for an improvement in efficiency,” Mr Borlace said.
Australia’s Best Cars will be announced on 27 November.