Hybrid cars give you the best of both worlds: some zero-emission driving, as well as greater range for longer journeys. Here is our pick of the best.
Words by:Rachael HoggFirst published: 25th December 2017
Today there’s a hybrid for every purpose – from supermini to supercar – all united by the common theme of having two power sources: an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Most will run for a certain distance on purely electric power, giving zero-emission driving and improving your fuel consumption, but with the added reassurance of the ‘normal’ engine for longer journeys.
Hybrids tend to suit buyers who spend a lot of time in town, where it’s easiest to take full advantage of the electric assistance. However, if you’re more regularly doing long journeys, a decent diesel may make more sense.
There’s also the decision to make between a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
In a regular hybrid, the batteries are recharged automatically as you drive, but in a plug-in, the batteries are larger and you can charge them up from the mains or a dedicated charge point. That means plug-ins have a longer range on electric power and better fuel economy, but they tend to be relatively expensive to buy, and you’ll need to have easy access to charging facilities.
If you reckon a hybrid is the car for you, see which models we recommend, and which to look out for next year.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – the four-wheel drive one
It’s not hard to see why this is the UK’s best-selling hybrid car. The Outlander PHEV is a spacious and practical five-seat family car with a five-star safety rating and four-wheel drive. Its CO2 emissions are less than 50g/km. It’s also easy to drive and has a range up to 30 miles on electric power alone.
Toyota Yaris – the city-slicker one
There aren’t many small hybrids around. The Yaris combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. It’s an expensive model within the Yaris range, but it’s also the most economical, as well as being very well equipped and backed up by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty. And, although it’s not cheap for a Yaris, it’s one of the cheapest hybrid cars you can buy in the UK.
Volkswagen Golf GTE – the hot hatch one
The GTE looks like the Golf GTI hot hatch, and it has enough pace to keep up with most hot hatches, too. But, it has something none of them have; average fuel economy of more than 150mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 40g/km, thanks to the combination of its 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor. And it’s a Golf, so you get the class and quality buyers love.
Volvo XC90 – the seven-seater one
The XC90 T8 can travel up to 20 miles or so on a single charge, so it’s perfect for people who spend a lot of their life in town. Beyond that, the petrol engine means it can go hundreds of miles without needing to be refuelled, but what really sets this seven-seater apart is the superb quality and classy design inside, as well as its excellent safety features.
BMW i8 – the supercar one
Just look at the styling of this, and then look at the figures. It does 0-62mph in just over four seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph, yet its official average fuel economy is over 130mpg and CO2 emissions are just 49g/km. A supercar with a conscience.
2018 and beyond
But wait! Before you rush out and spend your money on one of the cars above, here are a few more hybrid cars we’re expecting in 2018 and beyond. You may want to hold on until they arrive.
Citroen C5 Aircross
The C5 Aircross SUV will be coming to Europe in summer 2018, and will be the first Citroen with plug-in hybrid technology. It will have a 200 horsepower petrol engine and two electric motors, developing a total output of 300 horsepower. Buyers will be able to operate the car in ‘all-electric’ mode, with a range of 60km, ‘hybrid’ for long distances without charging, ‘combined’, or ‘4x4’. The battery will charge during deceleration or via the petrol engine while you’re driving along.
2018 CLS 53 will be the first Mercedes car to use a 48-volt electrical system with an Integrated Starter Generator, which gives rise to mild hybrid functionality. The electric motor will help make stop/start seamless, assist the petrol engine with extra horsepower or torque for an extra burst of speed, and also be used as a generator to recharge the CLS’ battery. And for the first time, the CLS will seat five, rather than four.
The Volvo XC40 is available to order now, priced from around £28,000. It’s the little brother to Volvo’s bigger XC60 and XC90 SUVs. However, if you want to get your hands on the plug-in hybrid version, you’ll likely have to wait until 2019. A fully electric XC40 is also due then.
BMW i8 convertible
BMW debuted its 2018 i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and it’s even more powerful than before. It looks just as good as the coupe, if not better, and it has CO2 emissions of 46g/km. The petrol and electric combined power output is up to 379 horsepower, and the all-electric range of the i8 has increased to 34 miles on a single charge. Prices start at around £125,000.
Lexus LS 500h
The new Lexus LS was first seen at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2017. For UK buyers, Lexus’ flagship luxury limousine will only be available to UK buyers as a hybrid that combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor for a combined power output of 359 horsepower. It’s available to order now, priced from around £73,000, with first deliveries starting in early 2018.