DRIVING & LIFE talks a lot about choices, but sometimes that leaves people with more complex decisions.
When I write about design, fuel efficiency, cost-benefit ratios and value for money I usually get a lot of emails asking for me to make a choice, of cars, for the writers.
This is an especially difficult issue for first time buyers, and also, as I found out this week for young people concerned about the impact of their choice of car on the environment.
Whilst having my eyes tested by Stephanie, a switched-on 20+ year old, she asked some very intelligent questions about what she should buy.
We talked about 'apparently' eco-friendly cars like electric cars and hybrids, but when I explained that the 'cradle-to-the-grave' carbon footprint between, say, a petrol car, versus a hybrid, was four times greater for the hybdrid, her next question was very sensible:
"What car can I buy that doesn't do as much environmental damage, but still gives me personal freedom?"
The summation wasn't very difficult. She needs a small car with good fuel economy, which is cheap to build and buy, is therefore cost-efficient, cheap to service, and at the end of its life is relatively easy to recycle sensibly.
I told her the answer probably was a Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki is an incredibly smart, environmentally-conscious, and efficient car maker.
I admire how Suzuki creates its cars, which is very important given its dominance in third world environments, where it sells a LOT of cars.
There's much more to environmentally-sensitive car design than you may think at first. If you really care about it, remember to ask the question: "What's the environmental (carbon) footprint, from cradle to grave?"
The fact is carmakers are getting very clever about making highly fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly petrol engines. There's a lot of life in the internal combustion engine yet, despite the advance of electric, hybrid, fuel-cell and other technologies.
If you're weighing up the options today, a car like the Suzuki Swift is a good choice. And, no, I didn't get a kickback from Suzuki - to me, it's just a commonsense analysis.
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