Mean or Green?

This post is sponsored by Toyota UK.

Let’s face it. It pays to be green these days. Climate change issues aside, the cost of fuel alone makes you want to choke at the pump. Sure it’s nice to be there humming and saving in your electric car you just unplugged, but what if you want to be able to unleash 6.2 litres of V8 and 550 plus horsepower? Maybe there’s a bit of ego involved, but some people really enjoy driving and appreciate the experience a well engineered machine provides to its pilot. Is there a middle ground here? Green or mean… or both?

In the Green Corner: Hybrid Roadsters

Even though we might not like to think about it, environmental concerns are real. Cars use up fossil fuels and spit out carbon monoxide which accelerates global warming. Being a car enthusiast doesn’t mean that you don’t care. Some shout that we should go for the best fuel efficiency possible, and the automakers have not turned a deaf ear. On the contrary, some of these green models have taken a place among the centerpieces of many automotive lines.

Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year contender, the Toyota Prius V Hybrid, for example, is a petrol-electric hybrid. Nearly singlehandedly, this baby catapulted Toyota to the top spot among car makers and made a big difference in the company weathering the economic storm of 2008-2009. There is huge consumer interest in this car so Toyota puts a big chunk of R&D resources here all for under family car money. We are talking 45-mpg. It’s what the environmentally minded driver demands. Save cash at the pump and save the planet? Sure, with these cars you can do both.


In the Mean Corner: The Muscle Car

Despite surging fuel prices, the car lover lives – and, therefore, so does the muscle car. Maybe you prefer to drive well into triple digits. Digits like 200-mph and 650-bhp, that is, as offered by the impressive Ford Shelby GT500. There is no mistaking what’s going on under the bonnet here. This beast is for the driver who just wants to drive. This isn’t about commuting or heading out to buy groceries, but it is about the throaty roar and the pull you feel from all those horses pushing you towards the horizon.

Then, in perhaps the ultimate expression of indulgence you could slide into the Aston Martin One-77. Let’s let the numbers do the talking: only 77 to be made, 750-bhp, 7.3 litre, V12 and a cool £1.2 million (or $1.5-2 million) sticker. Running costs are likely to be high; to just replace a tyre may cost the same as many economical small estates.

And the Winner Is…

There are convincing arguments on both sides. The green camp would cite that the environmental concerns alone are reason enough for eco friendliness to drive design and choice. The enthusiast would counter that with stricter emissions regulations and high fuel prices the performance car is also making strides in environmental consciousness. Take the new Mustang which has a 305-bhp V6. It maintains the muscle car feel, and it gets a respectable 31 mpg thanks to better valve operation and timing adjustments.

Even though green technology can be found trickling down to many conventional models, very few drivers want to go puttering along at a snail’s pace. Performance matters to everyone. But where do you draw the line? For the time being it appears that there are still choices, but that could change fast. Hopefully the technological advancements will reach the point where someday we can grip the wheel of a muscular machine that goes fast and far on only a few drops of fuel. We can certainly dream.