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
Jan 7, 2022
Toyota Yaris Hybrid front three quarters view

Hybrid technology has come a long way since it was famously pioneered on the Toyota Prius. More and more cars now come as hybrids in a variety of body styles as car-makers do their best to comply with emissions standards and improve fuel economy. This also means you can buy used hybrid cars.

There are actually different types of hybrid vehicles: mild hybrids use electric motors to improve the efficiency of their combustion engines, whereas self-charging hybrids recycle enough energy to travel short distances on their electric motors alone, using no fuel in the process.

There’s also another type called a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), which you can charge with a cable at home (hence the name). Typical range for a PHEV is between 20 to 30 miles on a full charge, and once this runs out the car switches to its conventional petrol or diesel engine. A plug-in hybrid is best for people who do lots of short journeys on electricity alone, but have the backup of petrol or diesel for long trips.

If you only really do lots of small trips and never drive far, then a fully electric car might make even more sense - you’ll get better electrical range and zero tailpipe emissions. Range is improving with every new generation of electric car, with many now even capable of around 300 miles between charges.

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 hybrid 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 SHVS

Our pick Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS
Size 3,840mm long
Used deals from £9,600
Monthly finance from £0*

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

Toyota Yaris Hybrid front three quarters view

Our pick Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i
Size 3,940mm long
Used deals from £20,785
Monthly finance from £0*

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.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS’ GUIDE

3. Honda Jazz Hybrid

Our pick Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD
Size 4,044mm long
Used deals from £17,850
Monthly finance from £0*

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 achieve 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

Our pick Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid
Size 4,165mm long
Used deals from £21,995
Monthly finance from £0*

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 crossover 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.

HYUNDAI KONA BUYERS’ GUIDE

5. Ford Puma mHEV

Our pick Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost mHEV
Size 4,186mm long
Used deals from £17,635
Monthly finance from £350*

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 59mpg 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 section for additional storage that Ford calls 'Megabox'.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FORD PUMA HYBRID

6. Volkswagen Golf eHybrid

Our pick Volkswagen Golf eHybrid
Size 4,284mm long
Used deals Limited stock

Not many hatchbacks have featured plug-in hybrid technology to date, but the Volkswagen Golf was one of the first to head down that path. The latest version uses 1.4-litre petrol engine that works in tandem with an electric motor to produce 204hp, while the battery should return around 30 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 Volkswagens, the Golf 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.

If you're looking to cut costs, the previous-generation model (known as the GTE) should deliver around 20 miles of electric-only range and prove similarly efficient. Those looking for a bit more pace might be interested in the latest 245hp Golf GTE, which is 0.7 seconds quicker to 62mph than the less powerful eHybrid model.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS’ GUIDE

7. Mini Countryman PHEV

Our pick Mini Countryman S E ALL4 PHEV
Size 4,299mm long
Used deals from £17,400
Monthly finance from £374*

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.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS’ GUIDE

8. Mercedes A250e

Mercedes A-Class front three quarters view

Our pick Mercedes A250e
Size 4,419mm long
Used deals from £30,590
Monthly finance from £444*

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.

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.

 

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