Green machine or gas guzzler: what's it to be?

The Geneva Motor Show kicks off next week – and eco-friendly people cars are at the heart of the innovations on display. Petrolheads will rejoice with some choice gas-guzzlers too.

Sure to be getting lots of attention in these eco-conscious times is the Honda FCX Clarity – the world’s first hydrogen-powered motor.

Looks-wise it’s nothing special, but the tech inside the engine ensures that nothing comes out of the FCX Clarity’s exhaust apart from clean water vapour. Ken Livingstone will love it.

Honda says this is the first time the FCX Clarity has gone on display in Europe. The four-door, zero emission saloon made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show last October and will be available to lease in the USA this summer for just $600 (£304) per month. The FCX will also debut in Japan this autumn. There’s no news yet on a UK launch.

Equally noteworthy is the CR-Z sports coupe concept, which finally brings the classic CR-X of 1980s fame up to date. This new version houses a hybrid powerplant, delivering responsible high-speed jollies for the car cognocenti.

Bubble car bounces back

Also out touting its ZEV credentials is Nissan, which will be showing off its cute ‘n’ cuddly Pivo 2 concept at Geneva.

This 21st Century bubble car comes with a rotating cab and wheels that turn at 90 degrees, enabling you to drive the thing in any direction. It's perfect for parking in tight spaces – you simply drive the car in sideways.

Other innovative features include an NEC PaPeRo-style robot built-into the dash, Siemens VDO-style motors in each wheel and a Lithium-Ion battery-powered engine.

The Pivo 2 even has an advanced ‘X by Wire’ system that replaces mechanicals linking the steering and other core components with a series of electronic signals instead. The Pivo 2 made its motor show debut in Tokyo last year.

Hyundai’s HED turner

Sticking with the eco-friendly theme is Hyundai whose stunning (yes, we said stunning) HED-5 MPV promises class-leading fuel economy, thanks to a super lightweight construction that’s been developed in conjunction with LG, Bayer and Recaro.

Hyundai says the six-seat HED-5 emits 29 per cent less CO2 than its on-the-road rivals. No date has been set for launch, although the HED-5 is classed as a ‘near production’ concept.

Also nearing production is the Toyota iQ, a concept motor that first made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. The iQ measures less than 3m long and uses eight space-saving techniques to carry three adults, a child or luggage in comfort.

Toyota will also be showing off two further concepts – the 1/X and i-Real personal transport.

Petrohead alert

The eco-warriors don’t have it all their own way – this is a car show, after all. Sure to cause much spluttering into knitted hemp tea cups is the arrival of a massive Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé, along with sports cars galore.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé is certainly a head-turner. Based on last year’s 101EX concept, this 5m long monster comes packed with a 6.75-litre V12 engine that delivers 453bhp, and does just 12mpg around town.

Luckily the Coupé is equipped with a 100-litre fuel tank, which at today’s prices, would cost over £100 to fill. Not that the kind of people who’ll buy this car will care. Thankfully Rolls-Royce has dropped the 101EX’s ghastly fibre-optic roof lining that made it look like an Aurea on wheels. Instead fancy fittings have been tastefully limited to slim lights that flank this muscular coupé’s sides.

Other petrolhead favourites are likely to be the new Alfa-Romeo Alfa 8C Spyder, which looks stunning, the Maserati GranTurismo S and Nissan GT-R – a 3.8-litre, V6 Japanese supercar that goes on sale this month.