This more realistic fuel economy rating lowers the bar enough for a handful of European small cars to beat the Prius in a game at which many Americans believe it’s indomitable. And guess what, these cars from the old world all use highly fuel-efficient diesel engines.
(All mileage numbers represent official European rating converted into miles/gallon via this conversion site)
Audi A2 1.2 TDI
Smart fortwo CDI
Peugeot 107 Urban 1.4 HDi 54 / Citroën C1 HDi 55 SX
Citroën C2 HDi 70 SensoDrive VTR
KIA Picanto 1.1 CRDi EX
If many in this country are so concerned about eking the most amount of miles from a gallon of fuel, why hasn’t the modern diesel enjoyed the same success here as the hybrid? The easy answer would be the ghost of diesel’s past, particularly a bad batch of oil burners designed by Oldsmobile in the 1980’s.
The more complicated response is that Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel hasn’t been readily available in the U.S. like it is in Europe. This special blend of diesel contains less sulfur, which reduces emissions, but also allows for better emissions control systems to be used on a diesel engine. Fortunately ULSD will be the new standard in the U.S. come this fall. Some companies, like DaimlerChrysler, are waiting in the wings with 50-state approved diesels that are powerful, clean and get grand gas mileage. Will diesels finally become the eco-peer of hybrids? Who will be the first to marry the two in an ultra-efficient diesel hybrid production car? Time will tell, but we can all breathe easier knowing more green options are sprouting up every year.