Best hybrid sports cars 2023
Fancy hybrid tech to cut your fuel bills but still want a quick car that feels sporty? Read on for our pick of the best sporty hybrid cars
Hybrid tech could well be a key element in the future of sports cars. As the country pushes to lower its carbon footprint, the addition of a battery pack and electric motor to cars is a handy way to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions being pumped out of the exhaust.
In addition, an electric motor can help to make a car faster, often enabling vehicles to have great punch when accelerating from a standstill - although the heavy battery pack needed to work the motor can make cars less agile when zipping around corners.
There are a number of different types of hybrid; mild hybrids, conventional hybrids (sometimes called ‘traditional’ hybrids - or just 'hybrids') and plug-in hybrids. Mild hybrids offer minimal electrification and typically feel no different to ordinary petrol and diesel models, so here we're focusing on traditional and plug-in hybrid models.
If you are likely to struggle with being able to charge regularly, then a traditional hybrid could be the best option for you. These do not charge by being plugging in, but through regenerative braking and the engine topping up the batteries when on the move - and their electric range is typically only a mile or two, though this, combined with electric assistance while the engine is running, can still result in a big fuel economy improvement.
Plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, need to be plugged in to get the most from their larger battery packs and they tend to have a range between 25 and 45 miles from a full charge. To find out more about the different types of hybrids, click the buttons below:
Originally, ‘sports car’ referred to coupes and convertibles with two doors, a sleek body and often only two seats. Over time other types of sporty cars have been created, such as sporty SUVs, hot hatchbacks and high-performance estates. Depending on exact specification, these can range from being mildly more sporty than ‘normal’ cars to being mind-bendingly fast.
Most of the cars listed below can go from 0 to 62mph in less than seven seconds, which is quicker than most cars on the road. The best sports cars aren’t just fast in a straight line, though, they are also enjoyable for whizzing around corners on faster roads.
Regular sports cars do have a big downside, though - high running costs. Happily, hybrid tech can solve this, or at least address it in part, by reducing everyday fuel bills.
Hybrid sports cars
Our pick Lexus LC 500h Coupe
0 to 62mph 5.0 seconds
Used deals Limited stock
In a world of sports cars with huge spoilers, aggressive styling and loud exhausts, the Lexus LC walks a different path. It is a path of elegant performance - especially with the hybrid version. The car is comfortable enough to undertake longer motorway journeys in luxury, yet is a joy to carve through corners on faster out-of-town roads thanks to its good handling.
The hybrid system combines a 3.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a battery pack. Together they produce just under 360hp, which is a decent amount of power and makes it a quick but refined car. If you like the idea of the LC but have a lower budget, the more affordable Lexus RC below is a smaller and cheaper alternative that stills looks striking and super-modern.
As for general peace of mind, Lexus includes a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty. This length of cover is the best that is offered by any car maker but there is one caveat. After the car is three years old or has travelled more than 60,000 miles, it must be serviced by an official Lexus garage every year for the warranty to remain valid. This will likely cost more than going to an independent garage but the benefits are arguably worth it - Lexus cars are known for being reliable, but this high level of cover means even less to worry about.
If you were to pick a standout hybrid sports car on styling alone, the Lexus RC would undoubtedly be up there with the very best. Its sharp angular lights, front grille and body panels create a coupe quite unlike anything from BMW or Audi. These brands make two of the best alternatives to the RC (the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5) although neither are available as traditional hybrids, making the RC the go-to medium hybrid coupe.
Driving the RC isn’t as exciting as the best sports cars. As a result, it is perhaps best suited to those who want a model that looks like a sports car but is comfortable first and enjoyable to throw around corners second.
There are two rear seats which are large enough for children to travel in relative comfort, but most adults will start to feel the lack of space quite quickly. As with the RC above, there is also the significant benefit of 10-year manufacturer warranty cover - making this an appealing option as a used car.
Our pick Toyota Corolla 2.0 VVT-h GR Sport
0 to 62mph 7.9 seconds
Used deals Limited stock
What if you want a hot hatchback, with sporty looks and good performance but with the running costs of a regular car? This is where the Toyota Corolla GR Sport comes in. From the outside, the Corolla looks sharp and modern but get behind the wheel and go for a drive and the reality is much more… efficient and comfortable. And that's no bad thing, as sporty cars can get tiring when they're overly firm and loud.
GR Sport models sit near the top of the Corolla specification hierarchy. As a result, they come with equipment such as a digital driver’s display (which replaces traditional dials for things such as speed), a head-up display and 18-inch alloy wheels.
There are two engines available with the Corolla GR Sport; 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol hybrids. We’d recommend the latter if you want a more sporty drive as it has more power and low-engine-speed muscle than the smaller engine. This greater muscle - aided by the hybrid tech - makes the 2.0-litre model feel decently brisk, though it should use a lot less fuel than pure petrol alternatives.
Our pick Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI iV vRS
0 to 62mph 7.0 seconds
Used deals Limited stock
The Skoda Octavia vRS iV is one fast hybrid hatchback. It is available as a super-practical estate, which means it has a usefully shaped rectangular boot - ideal for transporting lots of shopping, big suitcases, oversized prams or a large dog or two.
Thanks to being a plug-in hybrid, the Octavia vRS iV should be very economical, although you'll need to charge the battery regularly to get the best fuel economy. Driving around with a flat battery for prolonged periods of time will likely mean the fuel economy is worse than non-hybrid cars.
Moving to performance, the nippy Octavia hybrid uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor to produce a total of 245hp. This puts the Octavia close to a number of very impressive petrol-only hot hatchbacks, like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Hyundai i30 N.
Due to the weight of the large battery pack, the Skoda isn’t quite as nimble as these rivals around corners, but it is quick with the petrol-electric setup providing plenty of effortless speed. And, when you want to simply have a relaxed drive, the Octavia is a lovely car for long cruises, which can be a weakness of some petrol-powered performance cars.
Cupra was formerly the name given by Seat to its fastest models but a few years back the decision was made to launch Cupra as a standalone brand. The Cupra Leon is a fast hatchback (an estate model is an option, too), which is available as either a petrol or a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.
As Skoda and Cupra (and Seat) are part of the same company, they share lots of parts, and as as result, the hybrid system is basically the same as the one in the Octavia vRS iV above, though the Leon is slightly smaller.
This means there is 245hp available, which makes for quick acceleration. As a PHEV, the Cupra Leon can drive on electric power alone - provided you charge the battery first - and this can take you up to 32 miles, which should be enough for many people to complete their commute on battery power alone.
Our pick BMW i8
0 to 62mph 4.4 seconds
Used deals Limited stock
Few hybrids have caused quite as much of a stir as the BMW i8. When it arrived in 2014, one of the most surprising parts was not that it produces near enough 370hp - which makes it seriously quick - but that it was a plug-in hybrid. Based on its rockstar looks alone, many people would have expected it to be powered by a big, fuel-hungry engine. Instead, fully charged it offers an electric range of up to 34 miles.
Driving the i8 is an exciting prospect. Come to a stop and firmly plant your right foot on the accelerator and the speed at which you will be fired forward is seriously impressive. Any car that can get from 0-62mph in under five seconds is not just fast, it is rapid. Furthermore, the small three-cylinder petrol engine allied to the electric motor produces a sporty thrum, which only adds to the driving experience.
BMW also made a convertible version of the i8, which is called the i8 Roadster and this is one of the few sporty hybrid convertibles available.
The Porsche Panamera is a large, upmarket car, but also has a hatchback, making it decently practical. What you might not expect, though, are the somewhat ridiculous performance figures. The fastest model produces 700hp, which is more than a number of supercars, yet with the Panamera there is space in the back for two adults and a large boot.
Porsche offers a number of different hybrid Panamera models, all identified as petrol-electric models thanks to ‘E-Hybrid’ in their names. The least powerful '4 E-Hybrid' model produces 462hp, which is still enough to sprint from 0 to 62mph in a pretty rapid 4.4 seconds and reach 172mph when driving flat out.
Porsche also offers a model it calls the Panamera Sport Turismo, which is an estate version of the Panamera. This offers greater practicality in the boot and you may also prefer the styling, as this has a less curvy rear end.
Although the Cupra Formentor may sound like a kitchen appliance for making yoghurt, it is actually a rather good-looking crossover. Being that such cars are a cross between more traditional hatchbacks (such as the Seat Leon) and in-vogue SUVs (such as the Seat Ateca) they offer a bit of the best of both.
Like SUVs they are slightly higher from the ground making them easier to get in and out of and load child seats in the back for many drivers, and like hatchbacks, they are reasonably affordable to buy and run and can be fun to drive in a sporty manner.
Sitting inside the Formentor, it is clear Cupra didn’t blow all the budget on sexy exterior styling. There are plenty of high-quality materials in places you are most likely to touch and classy features such as copper-coloured stitching across the dash.
The hybrid system is the same 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor as seen in the Octavia and Leon mentioned above - although there are two different versions. There is the same 245hp petrol-electric setup as with the others but also a 204hp version which should prove to be more economical, albeit slower.
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