Smallest hybrid cars

The smallest hybrid cars are easy to drive and provide great fuel economy - especially around town - to make your money go further

Joe Holding
Feb 22, 2021

Hybrid technology is being introduced on more and more cars these days, as manufacturers try to comply with strict emissions limits and improve fuel economy for drivers.

There are various types of hybrid vehicle: ‘mild’ hybrids use an electric motor to make their engines a little more efficient, while full hybrids go one step further by recycling enough electricity to travel short distances on electricity alone, without using any fuel at all.

Then there are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which can be charged up via a cable that you plug in at home. Most PHEVs can do between 20 and 30 miles on a full charge before needing to switch on their petrol or - less frequently - diesel engines. Plug-in hybrids work best for those who do lots of short journeys and plug in between them, to complete as many of their journeys as possbile on electricity alone.

If you do that kind of driving, however, a fully electric car makes even more sense, as you get greater electric range, zero tailpipe emissions and you're not paying a premium to have a petrol or diesel engine that you barely use. Each new generation of electric cars offers greater range than the previous, with a number of models now capable of around 300 miles per charge.

Because carmakers have focused on making their largest, most polluting cars cleaner with hybrid technology to begin with, you’ll find fewer small hybrid cars on offer for the time being. Those that have made the switch are more likely to be mild hybrids and full hybrids, with plug-in bybrid kit most common on larger models such as crossovers, SUVs and some hatchbacks.

To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve compiled this list of the smallest hybrid cars available on BuyaCar. While it’s not exhaustive, it should show you what your options are and demonstrate how affordable hybrids can be and show how much money you could save by going hybrid.

Small hybrid cars for sale

1. Suzuki Swift (mild hybrid)

Our pick Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS
Size 3,840mm long
Used deals from £8,988
Monthly finance from £161*

The first mild-hybrid version of the Suzuki Swift arrived in 2017, and the technology now features across its entire line-up. While fuel economy hasn’t improved enormously (the official figures suggest you’ll see around 50mpg), the electric motor assists the engine with acceleration at low speeds, which reduces the amount of fuel the petrol engine uses. This means the Swift feels rather fast, even if the 0-62mph of over 10 seconds suggests otherwise.

Some people are of the view that hybrid technology has shifted the Swift away from its usual ‘cheap car’ status, but you can avoid paying a premium by getting a used model: on BuyaCar you can instantly save a couple of thousand pounds just by searching for nearly new models.

SUZUKI SWIFT BUYERS’ GUIDE

2. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (full hybrid)

Our pick Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i
Size 3,940mm long
Used deals from £8,800
Monthly finance from £149*

Toyota has acted as the main pioneer of hybrid technology, backing it long before most other manufacturers had given it a second thought. As such its hybrid systems are universally well-integrated into their cars and there are plenty of nearly new and used models to choose from.

This is no different on the Yaris: the latest model runs a full hybrid system, which Toyota says can operate in electric-only mode for a significant proportion of time. While all the car’s energy ultimately comes from the fuel tank, this claim certainly seems to stack up with official figures of around 70mpg around town. That means that the Yaris Hybrid should consume notably less fuel around town than a conventional petrol alternative.

2020 examples of the Yaris can be found for less than £16,000 on BuyaCar, although older iterations are available for far less as hybrid versions of the Yaris have been available for a number of years.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Honda Jazz Hybrid (full hybrid)

Our pick Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD
Size 4,044mm long
Used deals from £15,965
Monthly finance from £217*

The Honda Jazz is hugely popular in the UK, not least because of its ‘magic’ seats that fold down - as well as up like cinema seats - for ultra adaptability. The interior is well-built, the boot’s a reasonable 304 litres and with plenty of passenger space, it’s easy to see why the Jazz is a long-term companion for many - it's so easy to live with.

The latest full hybrid tech allows the supermini to acheive around 70mpg on a mix of roads, with very little in the way of noise as long as you’re gentle on the accelerator pedal. Conversely ride comfort isn’t perfect and the steering is rather dull, so don't expect an exciting drive with the Jazz.

MORE DETAILS ON THE HONDA JAZZ HYBRID

4. Hyundai Kona Hybrid (full hybrid)

Our pick Hyundai Kona 1.6 GDi Hybrid
Size 4,165mm long (Niro 4,355mm)
Used deals from £19,995
Monthly finance from £277*

There’s an excellent, electric version of the Hyundai Kona that provides a lot of range on a single charge with low running costs to boot, but if you’re not ready to take the plunge on an electric car just yet then the hybrid version has a lot going for it.

The Kona Hybrid surpasses the 50mpg mark with ease, outperforming non-hybrid editions of the family SUV by a significant amount. It’s not quite as practical as rival cars, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - the software used to connect smartphones to the touchscreen media system - are both standard across the range.

On BuyaCar, one-year old Kona Hybrids with a few thousand miles on the clock are available from around £20,000; a sizeable reduction on factory-fresh prices.

HYUNDAI KONA BUYERS’ GUIDE

5. Ford Puma (mild hybrid)

Our pick Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost mHEV
Size 4,186mm long
Used deals from £17,500
Monthly finance from £293*

Ford is a little behind the curve when it comes to hybrid technology, but the Ford Puma looks set to address that with mild hybrid power added to the 125hp and 155hp versions of its 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines. In the latter 50mpg is possible if you use the dedicated ‘Eco’ driving mode, although the official figure of 58.9mpg could be difficult to achieve in everyday driving.

The Puma is based on the Fiesta hatchback, which means it’s very good to drive. 0-62mph takes a very respectable 8.9 seconds in 155hp form and once you’re up to speed on the motorway, it’s impressively quiet. The Puma is practical too, with a boot measuring a large 456 litres and enough space for adult passengers front and rear. Under the boot floor, there’s a useful ‘Megabox’ section for additional storage.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FORD PUMA HYBRID

6. Volkswagen Golf GTE (plug-in hybrid)

Our pick Volkswagen Golf GTE
Size 4,276mm long
Used deals from £14,500
Monthly finance from £234*

Not many hatchbacks have featured plug-in hybrid technology to date, but the Volkswagen Golf GTE was one of the first to head down that path. The 1.4-litre petrol engine works in tandem with an electric motor to produce 204hp, while the battery should return over 20 miles of zero-emission range. So if most of your journeys are short trips to and from home, and you make sure to charge regularly, you’ll be able to save a lot of money by running on electricity rather than petrol.

Like most Golfs, the GTE gets the basics right, with a high-quality interior, good ride comfort and plenty of space for passengers. It’s a five-door hatchback, with easy access for passengers, although the boot is less spacious than a normal Golf due to the placement of the battery at the back.

A new version of the Golf GTE is on its way with increased electric range and better fuel economy, which should drive prices down for older models. Currently you can expect four- to five-year old cars with plenty of miles on the clock to cost around £17,000, while newer models rise to more than £20,000.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTE BUYERS’ GUIDE

7. Mini Countryman PHEV (plug-in hybrid)

Our pick Mini Countryman S E ALL4 PHEV
Size 4,299mm long
Used deals from £20,200
Monthly finance from £328*

The Mini Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 - to give it its full title - was the first plug-in hybrid developed by the British brand when it was launched in 2017. With the engine and electric motor working together to produce a substantial 227hp, the Countryman PHEV is no slouch, hitting 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds.

You can expect around 30 miles of electric range from a full charge of the battery, but while this is a decent amount, the 1.5-litre petrol engine is only likely to return 35mpg once you’ve run out of juice, so if you want low fuel costs, make sure to charge regularly. Still, it’s one of the smallest hybrid SUVs you can get and as such it’s ideally suited to inner-city driving.

One-year-old examples of the plug-in Countryman will cost you around £27,000, but if you’re prepared to look at something with more miles on the clock, you can acquire one on BuyaCar for under £20,000.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS’ GUIDE

8. Mercedes A-Class (plug-in hybrid)

Our pick Mercedes A250e
Size 4,419mm long
Used deals from £27,890
Monthly finance from £374*

Just because you want a car to be small and cheap to run doesn’t mean that you don’t want something upmarket. This is where the Mercedes A250e comes in, offering all the appeal of the Mercedes badge and - according to the official tests - more than 40 miles of electric range from a full battery. That’s more than you’ll find on most PHEVs and could make completing most of your trips on electric power viable when other plug-ins don’t quite add up.

The interior of the A-Class is one of the best of any hatchback at the moment, with a luxurious finish and two touchscreens with which to control the car’s media system. Official emissions of 25-26g/km are very low, and in real-world driving you could hit 100mpg, as long as you’re disciplined when it comes to charging up via the plug socket.

The A-Class PHEV is new for 2020, but used cars with only a handful of miles on the odometer are usefully cheaper on BuyaCar than if you bought brand new: prices for AMG Line-trimmed cars have dipped under the £30,000 barrier already.

MERCEDES A-CLASS 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.

 

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Best cabriolet cars

  2. Best summer cars

  3. Vans with the cheapest insurance