Hybrid models, put simply, combine 2 power sources into a single powertrain – with either a petrol or diesel engine being teamed with an electric motor. But there are 4 main types, so make sure you choose the right one for your needs.
Full or parallel hybrids – Sometimes called ‘self-charging hybrids’, these can be driven by either the combustion engine or the electric motor, or in a combination. The system controlling the powertrain will find the right blend of the 2 to suit the conditions, but there will usually be range for zero-emission driving. The combustion engine is also used to charge the batteries.
Plug-in hybrids – These have larger batteries installed that can be charged from an external source. The electric-only range will be better than from a full hybrid, and if you have a short enough commute, you’ll be able to use electric power to the office and back most of the time. All you then have to do, is charge it up at home.
Mild hybrids – Unlike the first 2 hybrid options, mild hybrids can’t be driven solely by the electric motor and use a smaller unit to assist the combustion engine. The motor will aid efficiency and help reduce emissions.
Range extenders – These models are driven by electric motors, but feature a petrol-fuelled generator to charge the batteries if you don’t want to or can’t stop.
As drivers are beginning to move towards more efficient and lower emitting vehicles, electrified models, such as hybrids, are becoming more sought-after and more are being registered each month. More likely than not, most vehicles on sale by the early 2020s will be electrified in one way or another.
With that in mind, we take a look at the best hybrids and plug-in hybrids currently on sale.
The pinnacle of the Land Rover line-up is easily one of the most desirable vehicles around. And with theaddition of plug-in hybrid powertrain at the start of 2018, the large SUV cemented its place in the UK car market for years to come. By pairing a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine to a 105kW electric motor and 13kWh battery pack, the Range Rover PHEV can achieve up to 25 miles on electric power alone, while also producing emissions of 72g/km CO2 on a combined emission cycle. Prices for the model start from £89,300.
Widely regarded as the first true hybrid to gain worldwide popularity, the Prius is now in its fourth generation and is available as a full or plug-in hybrid. A pioneer of hybrid technology, with the Prius being its flagship model, many Toyota cars are now offered with an electrified powertrain. Both the standard and plug-in hybrids use a 1.8-litre petrol engine to ensure optimum fuel usage and low emissions.
The South Korean firm’s electrified Ioniq line-up comes in 3 guises – Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid and Electric – and all 3 are affordable yet refined hatchbacks. Starting at £28,395, the Plug-In version is fitted with a 1.6-litrepetrol engine optimised for economy, and a 44.5kW electric motor that can achieve a claimed 26g/km CO2 and 247.8mpg. The conventional Hybrid uses a different 1.6-litre petrol unit, alongside the electrical system, to return 62.8mpg and emissions of 84g/km CO2. Prices for the Ioniq Hybrid start from £21,795.
If you want a comfortable and practical plug-in hybrid estate, the V90 T8 is a great option. The supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine is paired to an electric motor powered by a 10.4kWh battery – combining to develop 401bhp and 400Nm of torque. Available from £59,655 and with the T8 powertrain on-board, the V90 can achieve 128.4mpg and 49g/km CO2, while also being able to sprint from 0-60mph in 5 seconds flat.
If the last hybrid version and the new 3 Series is anything to go by, the upcoming BMW 330e promises to be an excellent plug-in hybrid that will prove to be as well-balanced and as practical as the conventionally powered model. By using a twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, the executive saloon will be able to achieve 138mpg and do 41 miles on all-electric power alone. On sale from July 2019, the 330e is set to be a hit with business drivers due to its excellent economy.
As the entry option to the electrified Panamera line-up, the 4 E-Hybrid still offers impressive performance from its petrol-electric powertrain. Combining the forces of a 3.0-litre V6 and a 100kW electric motor, the 4 E-Hybrid has 456bhp and 700Nm of torque at its disposal to get the saloon from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. The model is priced from £83,718 and can achieve 85.6mpg, while emitting as little as 60g/km CO2. It comes with 4-wheel drive and a high-end finish.
Mercedes E-Class 300 de EQ Power
The E300 de is a novel feature on the hybrid market, as it’s one of the few models to use a 2.0-litre diesel engine alongside an electric motor on a plug-in hybrid. This diesel PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) can return up to 201.8mpg and emit 41g/km CO2, and the German firm offers the powertrain on both the saloon and estate variants of the E-Class. So in a lot of ways, this diesel hybrid is more efficient than many of the petrol versions on the market. E300 de models are priced from £47,700.
With the Corolla name returning to the UK market as a replacement for the Auris, the hybrid pioneers at Toyota made sure the new version of the hatchback and Touring Sports estate could be an efficient option on both fronts. Both the 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol-hybrid powertrains can achieve impressive fuel economy and emissions below 90g/km CO2. With Corolla hybrid models available from £23,755, electrified options are becoming more affordable.
As the luxury subsidiary of Toyota, Lexus has benefitted from its parent brand’s advancement in hybrid technology. The compact crossover uses the 250h 2.0-litre petrol-hybrid powertrain, which develops 176bhp and is capable of achieving 68.9mpg, while CO2 emissions can be as low as 94g/km. This self-charging hybrid doesn’t need to be plugged in and can go on electric power alone up to 71mph.
Available as a self-charging hybrid, a PHEV and the all-electric e-Niro, the Niro range offers customers the full complement of environmentally-friendly drivetrain options. Following an update this year, Kia has given the crossover a mild refresh. And whether the 1.6-litre petrol engine is teamed with a 1.56kWh battery pack for the self-charging model or the 8.9kWh lithium-ion pack for the PHEV, the Niro hybrids provide drivers with efficient returns in a practical format. Prices for the refreshed Niro models are to be announced later in 2019.