Best small hybrid cars

Green, cheap to run, and compact enough for city life. Here are the best small hybrids

Murray Scullion
Mar 27, 2019

Low carbon dioxide emissions, excellent fuel economy and some moments of being silently powered by electricity: hybrid cars are rapidly becoming a sensible choice for the general public.

Hybrids combine a traditional petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery to drive the car at slow speeds and to boost power when accelerating hard.

The technology works well in cities, where it can recover energy that's usually lost during braking in stop-start traffic. This power can then be used to get the car going again, which substantially reduces fuel use.

And that's why small hybrid cars can make a lot of sense. However, the limited choice of truly small hybrid cars means that we have had to stretch the definition to inclue some family-sized hatchbacks, such as the VW Golf.

Even so, these cars should still be easy to slot through packed cities, and simple to park when you get to your destination too.


Best small hybrid cars


1. BMW i3 with Range Extender

Best small hybrid for range

Latest BMW i3 Range Extender deals from £17,992
Finance from £294 per month

Yes, the i3 is an electric car. But the i3 Range Extender utilises a little two-cylinder petrol engine to charge the batteries if you’re running low. This, in theory, will keep you going for as long as you keep filling the tank, but it only adds about 70-80 miles of range. The battery range is around 130 miles - so combined- this has a range of around 200 miles - which is superb for something that is mostly battery powered.

Although the car was first released in 2014, it still seems at the brink of cutting-edge today. It looks sci-fi-esque and almost like a spaceship, and its interior is uncluttered and still very modern. It’s surprisingly quick too thanks to the powerful batteries.
BMW i3 buying guide


2. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Best small hybrid for the city

The smart looking Yaris offers buyers big car build quality, with small car simpleness and ease of use. The hybrid system can run the car for short distances at slow speed on purely electric power, and the rest of the time, it achieves high mpg by teaming with the petrol engine.

Real world testing in mixed conditions show that it’ll acheive around 52.9mpg, which is pretty fair for a non-diesel. However, the interior quality is below-par and it doesn’t feel as zippy as some hybrids.
Toyota Yaris buying guide


3. Suzuki Swift Hybrid

Best small hybrid car for value

As if being great value wasn’t good enough, the Swift is also good fun. Responsive steering and nimble cornering mean that it's enjoyable to zip through a series of bends. The limited amount of power means that it never feels terrifying.

The hybrid system doesn't affect the car a great deal, as it's only a ‘mild’ hybrid, which means that the motor and batteries aren't as large as those in the other cars on this page. This means that the system can’t drive the car on pure electricity, but it boosts power when accelerating hard. Real world economy figures of 50mpg prove that it can be fun, frugal, and good value.
Suzuki Swift buying guide


4. Toyota Auris Hybrid

Best small hybrid for all-round capability

The Toyota Auris is a sturdy and sensible choice for those in the market for a small hybrid. It may have been recently replaced by the improved Toyota Corolla, but it wil take several years for that car to offer the same value as the Auris on the second-hand market.

It has a well proven track-record, a five year warranty, and there's also the option of an estate car with a larger boot (in case you outgrow your small car). It’s not the most exciting to drive - and the automatic gearbox is a touch noisy, but it makes up for it with its build quality and its clever use of space. It’s brimming with cubbyholes, and can fit three adults in the back comfortably.
Toyota Auris buying guide


5. Volkswagen Golf GTE

Best small hybrid for performance

Latest Volkswagen Golf GTE deals from £14,900
Finance from £217 per month

Hybrid cars are typically associated with green motoring, but Volkswagen is looking to promote the technology as sporty with its GTE range, which is meant to draw comparisons with the high-performance GTi hot hatchback.

Most hybrid cars will use the electric motor and engine to provide power when accelerating, and this delivers immediate acceleration in the GTE that makes it nippy from a standstill. However, the battery weight means that the 0-62mph acceleration time isn't quite as fast as the solely petrol-powered GTi.
Volkswagen Golf GTE buying guide


6. Lexus CT

Best small hybrid for premium feel

Latest Lexus CT Hybrid deals from £11,389
Finance from £183 per month

Lexus is renowned for its build quality and reliability, and regularly tops the table in customer satisfaction surveys.

With that in mind, the Lexus CT is a little pricier than the Toyota Prius, even though it shares some mechanical parts. But it’s easy to see what the extra money gets you. Inside there’s a plush interior with soft plastics and buttons that feel well put together. On the outside, big alloy wheels can be had to make it look more fashionable.

It only has one engine available (1.8-litre petrol linked to a hybrid) and an automatic gearbox, which is quite loud. It’s also not the last words in tranquility, as inside the road noise can be intrusive.
Lexus CT buying guide


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