LIKE it or loathe it, green cars sell. They sell because consumers don’t feel as guilty changing their vehicle every three years if the new one they’re buying is kinder to the environment and makes trees smile.
It’s not just a trend in the mundane hatchback segments either, as more and more manufacturers are shoe-horning more efficient engines under the bonnet. Whether that’s petrol, diesel or hybrid, every manufacturer is doffing their caps to green motoring.
And that means that bastion of uneconomical, nasty-to-the-ether type of car – the super saloon – is going under the microscope too.
Super saloons stir a special part in the souls of petrolheads because, on the outside, they look normal. Petrolhead’s neigbours think they’re driving around in a responsible diesel. But they’re not – they’re driving around in a four-door super car that can easily carry a week’s worth of shopping from Waitrose. And the kids. And the golf clubs. At warp speed. Everywhere.
But, with manufacturers making super saloons kinder to the planet, does that mean they’re not as much fun? To find out, we brought together five for a shoot-out at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
First up is the BMW M5. Recently launched, this new M5 ditches the old car’s wonderful er… we mean irresponsible V10 and has instead plumped for a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8. It can manage 28mpg, it churns out 238 g/km of CO2, but still packs 560bhp.
Next up is its nemesis – the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. Last year the three-pointed star ditched the fabulous… sorry, hateful 6.2-litre V8 naturally aspirated V8 and replaced it with a new 5.5-litre V8 twin-turbo. Showing that impressions still count, the Germans left the 63 badges on.
We’ve also got a couple of hybrids too. Porsche’s Panamera S Hybrid (okay, it’s a hatchback not a saloon, but it’s the closest Porsche has, okay?) and for a bit of civility, the world’s fatest accelerating hybrid – the Infiniti M35h.
And to show the world is not going completely mad, we’ve also brought along a dinosaur. Lexus IS-F’s 5.0-litre four-door laughs at the face of the green man, and drinks petrol as if it were Earl Grey.
We’ve also chatted to some dealers about what it’s like to sell these brutes in strained economic times.