Image: Audi A3 TDI
David Mcnew  /  Getty Images
The clean-diesel A3 TDI gets 42 miles per gallon on the highway.
updated 12/4/2009 12:59:14 PM ET 2009-12-04T17:59:14

Green Car Journal named Audi's 2010 A3 TDI the "Green Car of the Year" at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday, marking 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 5-passenger hatchback stood out among five finalists for the award, which included 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, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Audi said that's a 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.

While diesel vehicles have long been popular in European markets, they have been slow to catch on in the U.S. That's partially 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 all 50 states.

The other finalists for the award 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, the first clean-diesel vehicle to win the prize. The award is determined a panel of environmentalists and car buffs, including comedian Jay Leno, former car racer Carroll Shelby and ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau.

The annual contest began in 2005.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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