Wednesday, 4 April 2007


When you're travelling to a green car show, it's not the done thing to turn up in a gas-guzzling supercar. Getting from Brighton to the Eden Project in Cornwall by public transport is theoretically possible, but logistically difficult and, what with a combination of trains, buses and taxis, exceedingly expensive. None of the electric cars currently on offer could get close before needing a recharge, and a zero-emissions hydrogen-fuelled vehicle falls at the first hurdle: hydrogen supplies are pretty well non-existent in the UK.

Saab has a relatively viable, real-world, here-and-now solution, however: its 2.0t and 2.3t Biopower models, which drink E85 fuel (made up of 85% bioethanol, 15% conventional petrol) and which can also run on 100% petrol if you can't find an E85 pump.

As bioethanol is synthesised from renewable organic sources - from wheat to waste wood chips - it's being hailed as a way of reducing our fossil-fuel dependency. And as the plants or trees from which it is made absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, the carbon dioxide emissions produced from burning the fuel can be cancelled out. 9-5 Biopower: cleaner and faster The 9-5 Biopower models - available in saloon or estate form - don't rely solely on their relative environmental friendliness for their appeal. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than petrol, allowing greater power outputs. The 2.0t Biopower models, priced from £22,070, have 20% more horsepower and 16% more torque (180bhp/206lb-ft) when running on E85. The newer 2.3t models (from £23,270) have been tuned to give up to 210bhp and 229lb-ft of torque from the 2.3-litre turbocharged engine. When running on normal unleaded petrol, maximum output falls to 185bhp/207lb-ft.

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