Best Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars are a good way to start reducing your emissions. If you're not quite ready for an electric car, these are a good first step

BuyaCar team
Mar 18, 2021

Are you keen to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, but not yet ready to make the jump to a fully electric car? A hybrid alternative might well be your best option. Hybrid cars combine the use of fuel and electricity to offer something of a halfway house between a petrol or diesel powered combustion engine and a battery powered electric motor.

As a result, a hybrid setup offers improved efficiency over a regular petrol or diesel engine, which means longer gaps between fuel top-ups and a opportunity for you to reduce your exhaust emissions while on the road. This in turn leads to cheaper tax bills, and a chance to avoid ULEZ charges if you ever find yourself heading into central London.

While it's difficult to describe hybrid cars as the best of both worlds; they aren't as efficient as an electric car, while the extra weight of the hybrid system means the combustion engine will be less efficient on its own, but they are an excellent way to reduce your reliance on petrol and diesel, especially if you opt for a plug-in hybrid capable to running up to 30-miles on pure electric power.

Along with the plug-in hybrid setup, there are also full hybrid and mild hybrid alternatives which offer different takes on the hybrid philosophy, but all amount to an improvement in engine efficiency when used correctly.

Best Hybrid Cars

1. Toyota Prius

Best hybrid for all-round excellence

Used deals from £12,845
Monthly finance from £190*

Think hybrid, and there's a good chance that you're thinking Prius. The car has been at the forefront of hybrid motoring since 1997 and this fourth-generation model shows it.

The car is comfortable, with plenty of passenger space and light controls that make it relaxing to drive. Fuel economy is excellent too, even in real-world driving where you can realistically expect 65-70mpg, particularly on urban roads.

A plug-in hybrid version offers the potential for even greater fuel economy for a higher price and its design is a little less distinctive. That car's larger battery does reduce the already-limited boot space, though.

TOYOTA PRIUS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

Best hybrid for design

Used deals from £19,600
Monthly finance from £304*

The Countryman attempts to combine the familiar Mini design into a larger, taller shape, and the formula has proved popular with families. It was designed to be a plug-in hybrid model from scratch, so there's very little difference compared with the standard Countryman (although the boot size has reduced from 450 to 405 litres to accommodate the batteries.

As with other Minis, it feels agile in corners and has nippy acceleration. You can expect to travel around 15 to 18 miles before the battery runs out, when driving normally. Older cars (badged Cooper S E All4) are in the lowest company car tax bracket, thanks to official CO2 emissions of 49g/km but, since summer 2018, newer models have been rated at 55g/km thanks to the introduction of a new testing method.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Best hybrid for family value

Used deals from £10,989
Monthly finance from £165*

Before you buy a Toyota Prius, it's worth considering the Hyundai Ioniq, which is cheaper, has a bigger boot, and also looks more conventional too. Just like the Prius, it's available as a standard hybrid or a plug-in version, which can travel for around 30 miles on electric power alone - without the need for particularly efficient driving.

It's comfortable to drive, even if it can't quite match the smoothness of the Prius, and it's efficient too. Again, though, the Prius has a slight edge in this department with slightly better fuel efficiency in real-world driving. Where you can realistically expect between 60-65mpg from the Ioniq, the Prius is around 5mpg better.

HYUNDAI IONIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

4. VW Golf GTE

Best hybrid for economy and performance

Used deals from £15,549
Monthly finance from £205*

The previous-generation VW Golf GTE is a plug-in hybrid version of the standard petrol powered Golf. It adds super-low running costs to the model’s already familiar virtues: excellent build quality, a quiet and smooth ride, and a spacious interior. A real-world range of around 20 miles on electric power alone should be enough for most commuters.

If you push the accelerator hard, the petrol engine will start up and to boost the power of the motor, enabling the Golf to accelerate from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.6 seconds.

The Golf GTE is currently not available to order from new, but there are plenty of nearly new and used models to choose from.

VW GOLF GTE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Kia Niro

Best hybrid for crossover style

Used deals from £14,999
Monthly finance from £229*

Crossover cars use take same mechanical parts as conventional cars, and package them in a taller shape that provides a higher driving position and often more practicality. It's a family-friendly formula adopted by the Kia Niro, which can be bought as a standard or plug-in hybrid.

Kia is a sister company to Hyundai, and so uses the same hybrid systems that are fitted to the Ioniq. This brings smooth and efficient performance, but can't quite match the Toyota on fuel economy. The tall shape increases headroom, compared with the Prius and Ioniq, but the boot is smaller - at 382 litres, it has roughly the same amount of space as a VW Golf.

KIA NIRO BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Lexus IS 300h

Best hybrid for serenity

Used deals from £14,265
Monthly finance from £237*

The Lexus IS is built for calm, steady driving, which brings out the best in this luxurious and quiet saloon car. The hybrid system means that the car is virtually silent when accelerating gently, and a relaxed driving style can also see fuel economy exceed 50mpg, although long journeys can see that drop below 40mpg.

The Lexus isn't as smooth over bumps as a Mercedes C-Class, but its real weakness comes if you try and get a move on. This isn't the car for you if you prefer a sportier driving feel: the Lexus' gearbox causes the engine to rev noisily if you push the accelerator hard, and even this doesn't result in stellar performance.

7. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Best hybrid for the city

Used deals from £8,475
Monthly finance from £145*

As a small hybrid car, the Toyota Yaris is just about in a class of its own. It's perfect for scooting around town where the hybrid system is extremely efficient at recovering braking energy in stop-start traffic. The electric motor's assistance while accelerating helps to keep the car quiet and it's comfortable with light controls for easy manoeuvring.

The Yaris hybrid is less at home on faster roads, where fuel economy decreases and hard acceleration results in the engine revving noisily.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 330e iPerformance

Best hybrid for sportiness and practicality

Used deals from £15,058
Monthly finance from £228*

Company drivers love the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid, thanks to its miniscule 44g/km CO2 emissions figure, which places it into the lowest company car tax bracket.

In theory it can drive on electric power for 25 miles, but real-world testing suggests that this is closer to ten miles, which will affect the amount that you save on fuel. However, the real strength of this BMW is the powerful acceleration that's available when the petrol engine and electric motor combine (the car decides when to pool power depending on how hard you're pressing the accelerator).

A 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.1 seconds is quick, and the car is almost as nimble in corners as a petrol or diesel 3 Series. It's no longer sold brand new, as the car is due to be replaced shortly, but there's a good selection of second-hand cars for sale.

BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Volvo XC90 T8

Best hybrid for large SUV practicality

Used deals from £39,100
Monthly finance from £599*

It's not only a hugely capable SUV with all the visibility and safety tech you could wish for, the Volvo XC90 is also a genuine seven-seat family car. That’s why the T8’s plug-in hybrid capability is so valuable, since it helps keep running costs of this huge vehicle within tolerable limits. Like most plug-ins, that’s only true if you can charge it frequently, which provides up to 25 miles of electric motoring at your disposal: good if your commute offers charging opportunities at each end.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

10. BMW i8

Best hybrid for shock and awe

Used deals Limited stock

The most striking thing about the i8 is not its space-age looks, its claimed 134.5mpg economy (expect closer to 40mpg), its ow CO2 emissions or its 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds. Instead, it's the price you can buy it for as a used car. From new, the i8 was priced at close to £100,000, but prices for some cars are now just over half that amount. Age hasn't diminished the car's traffic-stopping looks.

BMW i8 BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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