Greenest car of the year is … another car we can’t get in the U.S.

Volvo S40 diesel DRIVe – 58 US MPG

It may not be a streamlined hybrid, a futuristic electric vehicle or a snazzy biofuel car, but a distinctly boxy diesel Volvo has won What Car? magazine’s award for the year’s greenest car.

A small family car with carbon emissions on a par with Toyota’s Prius, the Volvo S40 DRIVe received the award today from London mayor Boris Johnson. Vauxhall’s Ampera electric car and US electric car-maker Tesla also received awards.

Johnson said: “There are clear incentives for manufacturers to raise the bar higher and higher to design less gas guzzling cars that take hundreds of pounds off consumers’ fuel bills. This is good for the planet, good for the economy and great for the driver.”

What Car? editor Steve Fowler said of the winning Volvo: “It’s not just about a low CO2 figure. The S40 is great to drive, safe, has enough space for the family and, crucially, is cheap to run, too…”

Fowler warned the recession had made cars’ environmental credentials a low priority for consumers. “Green issues are still a hot topic, but it’s fair to say that they are not right at the top of car buyers’ priorities at the moment. It’s just as well then, that green cars will save you plenty of cash at the fuel pumps and will likely be worth more than other cars when you come to sell.”

Once again, we get to look at a laundry list of leading auto designs that most of these manufacturers don’t think of bringing to the United States.

Yes, part of that is the success the Big 3 had for several years cranking out gas-guzzlers. And everyone fears the motoring public in the States has the attention span of a cricket – and will not stick to sensible choices in transportation if the year-round price of gasoline drops to something considered affordable.

Do you think that’s really likely? The “dropping to affordable” part – I mean?

RTFA. Only four of the ten winners are available in the GOUSA.

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