UK's most popular diesel cars breaking emissions limits
Top models routinely pump out higher levels of toxins than lab tests show
Britain's most popular diesel cars vastly exceed emissions standards, with official tests showing that some models pollute at levels 14 times higher than manufacturers claim.
The study, commissioned by the Department for Transport, found a huge discrepancy between figures generated in a lab environment and those in the "real world".
Not one of the 37 cars tested met the prescribed EU limits on the road, with the average result across Euro 5 engines being nitrogen oxide levels five times higher than the 180mg/km level. Euro 6 engines were on average 4.5 times above their 80mg/km limit.
According to the Daily Telegraph, transport minister Robert Goodwill said he was "disappointed" by the results and accused manufacturers of "gaming" the testing system.
However, he added that none of the manufacturers had legally done anything wrong, as they had all passed laboratory tests in the first place with no evidence of the use of a defeat device, the software used by Volkswagen to get around emissions laws in California.
The Telegraph's motoring consumer editor, Alex Robbins, called the standard test "rubbish".
The models tested represent 50 per cent of all diesel cars sold in Britain between 2010 and 2015, says the report, with some of the UK's best-sellers coming in for particular flak.
According to The Guardian, the most recent Ford Focus, which is supposedly Euro 6 compliant, has a real-world emissions score eight times higher than the EU limit, while other staples, such as the Renault Megane and Vauxhall Insignia, release around ten times above acceptable levels.
The paper adds that officials stress comparing models against each other is "unfair", as the cars were tested on different days, conditions and temperatures, but experts say the automotive industry could be on the verge of a crisis "similar to recent banking scandals".
The report concludes that "existing lab tests designed to ensure emissions limits are met have been shown to be inadequate" and that a new Europe-wide test to assess cars under a real-world environment will be adopted.
Autocar says the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test is set to be introduced in a staggered process beginning from next year and Europe's testing measures will be the "toughest in the world" by 2019.