Best diesel hybrid cars 2023
Diesel hybrid vehicles combine the fuel economy of a diesel engine with the green credentials of an electric motor
A diesel hybrid should offer the best of both worlds: the fuel economy of a diesel engine and the eco-friendly nature of an electric motor. Lower emissions, the ability to drive in electric mode and some additional power are other benefits you can look forward to.
There are three types of hybrid vehicles available in the UK: a regular hybrid (often referred to as a ‘self-charging hybrid’), a plug-in hybrid and a mild hybrid. We’re concentrating on the first two, because these offer the best fuel economy and, in the case of a plug-in hybrid, the opportunity to complete your daily commute without needing to start up the diesel engine.
The vast majority of hybrid vehicles combine an electric motor with a petrol engine, so your choices are limited if you’re after a diesel hybrid. Furthermore, the majority of diesel hybrids are from upmarket brands like Mercedes, so they can be expensive to buy new. Fear not, because used examples are more affordable, so you’ll be saving even more money.
Best hybrid diesel cars
The Mercedes-Benz E300de is the most popular diesel hybrid car on the BuyaCar website. It’s not hard to see why, because this premium saloon boasts cleaner electric power for short trips, plus diesel economy for longer journeys. In this case, the E300de pairs a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a 13.5kWh battery.
On paper, you could see 32 miles of electric range, but around 20 miles is more likely in the real world. Invest in a home charger to take advantage of the car’s 7.2kW charging rate, and the battery should be topped up in around two hours, allowing you to make use of cheaper off-peak rates in an era of sky-high energy prices. Bank on seeing around 50mpg in daily use or as much as 65mpg on the motorway.
You might have to be patient when searching for an Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid, especially a diesel version, but it’s worth the wait. The battery pack means that the Q7 e-tron loses the third row of seats, but this makes it an incredibly spacious and practical five-seat vehicle. Few SUVs offer such a compelling blend of luxury and technology.
Power is sourced from a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and a 128hp electric motor, which combine to give it a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds. If you remember to plug in it, you could see up to 156.9mpg in daily use, along with up to 34 miles of electric range. In reality, these figures are likely to be 70mpg and 20 miles respectively, but these are impressive for an SUV of this size.
The GLC 300de is available as a standard SUV or a more style-led SUV coupe, but both come with a 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a 122hp electric motor. In diesel form, the electrically-assisted GLC is significantly more economical than the petrol-electric version, with the standard SUV topping out at 157mpg. That’s 34mpg more than the most frugal petrol-hybrid 300e model.
The usual caveats apply, not least the warning that a plug-in hybrid is an expensive extravagance if you forget to recharge the battery pack. A standard diesel SUV makes more sense if you’re the forgetful type or you don’t have access to an electric charging point. Like most other plug-in hybrids on this list, a fully charged battery should deliver around 25 miles of electric range.
Twin Engine is - or was - Volvo speak for plug-in hybrid. In this case, the V60 features a 2.4-litre diesel engine and an 88hp electric motor. There are two versions: a D5 and a more powerful D6. These were expensive cars when new, but they’re more affordable when buying used.
According to official figures, you could expect to see up to 30 miles of electric range from a fully charged battery, but this is more likely to be 20 miles in the real world. You’ll benefit from low CO2 emissions of just 48g/km, but don’t be fooled into thinking the V60 Twin Engine is a hugely practical estate. The battery pack means the boot is no larger than that of a Volkswagen Golf hatchback.
The Mercedes C300de offers all of the benefits of the larger E300de saloon but in a more compact package. Power is sourced from the same combination of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, a 13.5kWh battery, an electric motor and a nine-speed automatic transmission. A 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds makes it a rival to sports cars and hot hatchbacks.
That’s likely to be of little interest to someone in the market for a diesel hybrid. What really matters is the 35 miles of electric range and the two hours it takes to recharge the battery when using a home charger. As with all Mercedes models, the quality is impressive and you get a generous level of standard kit.
This is another diesel hybrid that doesn’t appear on the BuyaCar website that often. Launched in 2013, the Range Rover Hybrid is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine and a 48hp electric motor. There’s no ability to plug it in, although Land Rover claims the engine is switched off around 25% of the time.
You can also drive up to a mile in pure electric mode, but you have to be travelling at less than 30mph with a fully charged battery. As for fuel economy, you can expect to see around 44mpg, which is better than the non-hybrid diesel’s 37.7mpg.
Peugeot was one of the first companies to launch a diesel hybrid, with the 3008 Hybrid4 arriving in 2012. At the time, it was the only diesel-electric car on sale in the UK. A decade on, the figures remain impressive: 99g/km CO2 emissions, around 70mpg and four-wheel drive.
Sales were hampered by the car’s high price and the infancy of the electrified market, but the 3008 Hybrid4 makes a lot of sense in an era of rising fuel costs - if you can find one.
From one of the oldest diesel hybrids to one of the newest. The BMW X5 xDrive45e replaces the previous BMW X5 plug-in hybrid and offers an impressive 50-54 miles of electric range. That sort of figure would have been unheard of a decade ago.
New to the market at the end of 2021, the new X5 plug-in hybrid costs a not insignificant £60,000, so it will be a while before it approaches the realms of affordability. But it just goes to prove that the diesel hybrid is alive and well.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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