Best cars to reduce CO2 emissions and meet the Paris agreement terms

In December 2015, 195 countries signed an agreement stating climate change must be limited to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. One way this’ll be achieved is by limiting greenhouse gas emissions – including cutting the levels of CO2 emitted by cars.

The best way you can help control climate change is by voting with your wallet and buying a car that emits little or no CO2. With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the 10 best cars you could buy to help the world meet the terms of the Paris Agreement.

Put any of these cars in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. If you’re looking to make the switch to battery power, check out our list of the 10 best electric cars.

1. Volkswagen Golf GTE

Who said saving the planet couldn’t be fun? The Volkswagen Golf GTE uses a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and small electric motor to deliver power to rival the traditional GTI while using as little fuel as possible. The switch between power sources is seamless and the car feels lively on the move.

If its 166mpg and 201hp isn’t enough to convince you, you might be swayed by the fact that it’s still a Golf. This means you get a practical, well constructed cabin that’s easy to navigate. Additionally, you get all the tech from the regular hatch including an infotainment system and adaptive cruise control.

Spec up a VW Golf GTE in our deals page to see how much carwow could help you save.

2. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is one of the world’s most iconic hybrids and for good reason. The Japanese brand’s fuel-sipping family car is now in its fourth generation and has been improved with every version. The latest returns up more than 90mpg while emitting just 70g/km of CO2 making it congestion charge exempt.

The interior’s been improved, too. It’s now larger inside and offers an extra 56 litres of boot space compared to the outgoing model. Some might find its looks a little divisive but it’s been carefully sculpted to be as aerodynamic as possible – both to reduce fuel consumption and to limit wind noise.

See how much you could save using our Toyota Prius deals page.

3. Mercedes C350e Estate

Step inside the Mercedes C-Class Estate’s interior and you might find you care a little less about what’s emitted from the exhaust pipe. Its cabin is so luxurious, it feels like it belongs two whole classes above on cars costing three-times the price. Look beyond the cabin – if you can – and you find that, in C350e guise, the C-Class can be really efficient, too.

Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, the car can hit 62mph from rest in just 5.9 seconds despite averaging 134.5mpg. Its 19 miles of electric range will also come in handy for those commuting to a big city.

Check out what reductions can be had by speccing up a Mercedes C-Class Estate in our deals page.

4. Renault Zoe

If you stay mainly in the city, why bother with a hybrid at all? Ditching the engine altogether means there’s more space for batteries giving you a larger electric range. The Renault Zoe offers a great combination of simple supermini ownership with fractional running costs – you can get the car even cheaper if you opt to lease the batteries from Renault.

Its success, however, lies in how normal it otherwise is. Five doors, a clear cabin and light controls make the Zoe a doddle to live with and the electric operation means you get reduced running costs and a relaxing driving experience.

Find out how much carwow could help you save using our Renault Zoe deals page.

5. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mainstream electric cars and led the charge (no pun intended) in making them a normal part of our motoring environment. Its popularity is well deserved – apart from its electric motor and battery pack, there’s little that marks the Leaf out as anything other than an accomplished family car.

It’s comfortable on the move, spacious inside and silent when scything through city traffic. Naturally, compromises will be demanded for its pure electric operation – despite a battery-power increase in 2015, the maximum range is 155 miles. However, the benefits will – for many people – outweigh those minor disadvantages.

See the reductions offered by checking out our Nissan Leaf deals page.

6. Audi A3 e-tron

The Audi A3 e-tron shares many parts with the VW Golf GTE featured above. It misses out on a higher spot thanks to its greater price but, if you fancy a little extra luxury in your life, the A3 will suit you better. Like the Golf, it offers fuel economy in the triple digits and hot hatch-like power levels but adds a posher interior with nicer materials.

On the road, it’s very similar to the Golf – it grips well and, while the controls offer little feedback, they’re accurate and intuitive in use. The ability to switch between electric and petrol power simply makes it an even easier proposition to live with day-to-day.

Find out what savings can be made using our Audi A3 e-tron deals page.

7. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

A recent heavy facelift has made the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV an even more tempting option. It now features more upmarket exterior looks, a marginally enhanced interior and an updated hybrid powertrain. Despite its size, it claims to return more than 150mpg and, thanks to the electric motor’s response, feels sprightly around town.

The need to house the battery pack means that, unlike its conventional Outlander sibling, you can’t specify seven seats, but you still get a big boot and enough room for five to sit in comfort. Like many hybrids here, you get the option to run on electric power alone but the 18-mile range is only really useful for towns.

See how much you could save using our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals page.

8. Lexus IS300h

If you want to save the planet in comfort, the Lexus IS300h seems the ideal car for the job. Using a combination of a 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor, the IS sneaks under the 100g/km CO2 limit for road tax with the smallest alloy wheels fitted. Its interior is incredibly well constructed and the rest of the car feels reassuringly sturdy, too.

It’s not perfect – the CVT automatic gearbox whines when overtaking on the motorway and the mouse-like controller for the infotainment system is tricky to get the hang of. If you’re still unsure, the IS has one of the best reliability records for a modern car so shouldn’t present you with any nasty surprises.

Pick your perfect one using our Lexus IS deals page.

9. Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive

Reviewers were far from sold on the Mercedes B-Class when it arrived with traditional combustion engines but, with electric motor technology borrowed from Tesla, the B-Class is said to be much improved. You still get a practical, tall cabin that’s perfect for families because the batteries can fit under the floor.

Provided you’re not planning any long journeys, the B-Class Electric Drive makes a practical city companion that’ll leave your conscience clear in the long run. The cabin is trimmed in pleasant materials, too, to help make the car even easier to live with.

Pick your perfect Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive in our deals page to see what reductions can be had.

10. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

This is the cheapest hybrid on the list but don’t let that put you off – what the Toyota Yaris Hybrid lacks in stature and complexity, it makes up for at the pumps. Unlike many cars here, it’s a traditional hybrid so can’t be plugged in but, thanks to its minuscule weight, emits a congestion charge-beating 75g/km of CO2.

Inside, occupants get plenty of space to stretch out and there’s a useable boot, too. It trails the Ford Fiesta for driver engagement and the Volkswagen Polo for ride comfort but is in a class of one when it comes to hybrid superminis. If you need to get into London for as little as possible, this might be your ticket.

Put the Toyota Yaris Hybrid in our deals page to see the savings offered.

Save money on your next car

Put any of the cars featured here in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you still need help picking your next car, check out our car chooser.

Mercedes C-Class Estate

A classy estate with a luxurious cabin and a wide range of engines
£37,510 - £51,605
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Toyota Prius

A frugal hybrid that’s reasonably practical
£24,350 - £29,010
Read review Compare offers