Sunday, December 6, 2009 3:33 AM By Daisy Nguyen
The clean-diesel A3 TDI has an EPA highway rating of 42 mpg, which Audi says is 50 percent better than a gas-powered A3.
LOS ANGELES -- Green Car Journal has named Audi's 2010 A3 TDI the "Green Car of the Year" at the Los Angeles Auto Show, making this the second consecutive year a clean-diesel vehicle has won the prize.
Green Car Journal, a quarterly magazine that covers developments in environmentally friendly cars, said the five-passenger hatchback stood out among five finalists -- three hybrids and two clean-diesel vehicles -- for its exceptional fuel economy.
The win is "an affirmation that fuel-efficient, clean-diesel models are becoming a serious competitor in the American market," said Ron Cogan, the magazine's editor and publisher.
The A3 TDI gets 42 miles per gallon on the highway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Audi said that's 50 percent better fuel efficiency than a gasoline-powered A3.
The sporty luxury car, which arrived at U.S. dealerships last month, has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $29,950. Audi said initial sales have been promising.
Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, said the award gives clean-diesel technology greater credibility. "It shows that clean diesel has a place in the market right alongside hybrids," Nysschen said.
Diesel vehicles have long been popular in Europe, but they have been slow to catch on in the U.S.
That's partly because of tough emission requirements in states such as California, along with American memories of the smelly, noisy diesel vehicles of decades past.
Audi said the A3 TDI meets emission requirements in every state.
The other finalists were the Honda Insight hybrid, the Mercury Milan hybrid, the Toyota Prius hybrid and the Volkswagen Golf TDI clean diesel.
Last year, Green Car Journal presented the award to Volkswagen's 2009 Jetta TDI, which was the first clean-diesel vehicle to win the prize since it was first awarded in 2005.
The award is determined by a panel of environmentalists and car buffs, including comedian Jay Leno, former auto racer Carroll Shelby and ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau.