Hybrid power is the way forward if the car industry i to be believed, and these are the top 10 best hybrid cars to buy now
The electric car is gaining ground, and one area that is expanding rapidly is the hybrid sector. Whether it’s a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or a standalone model hybrid that regenerates its own energy, there are more hybrid cars on sale today than ever before. But which ones are best? Whether it’s a hybrid SUV, a hybrid saloon or even a hybrid sports car, Auto Express has compiled the 10 best hybrid cars on sale in the UK today.
Below you’ll find all the information you need on the different types of hybrid technology and the advantages of choosing a hybrid car, to help you make an informed buying decision. Most importantly though, is our verdict on the best hybrid cars on sale. Click the links below or on the left of this page to find out more about the hybrids in the top 10 and why we rate them.
Top 10 best hybrid cars 2018
These are our top ten best hybrid cars on sale now. Click the tabs on the top left of this page to find out about more about each model…
Is a hybrid car the right choice for you?
The concept of the hybrid car was first put into mass production by Toyota, with its ubiquitous Prius. The Prius has been on sale for over 20 years now, but the basic concept of a petrol engine mated to an electric motor and battery pack is essentially the same now as it was when it first arrived – all that’s changed is that the battery has grown in capacity, while the engine and electric motor have improved performance, too.
Its petrol-electric drive system has been introduced on a number of other models from Toyota and luxury division Lexus, while rival manufacturers are also adopting hybrid drive to help improve fuel economy. The rise in hybrid models is down to emissions legislation, because future emissions limits will no longer be able to be met by petrol or diesel engines alone, so some form of electrical assistance is needed. The current backlash against diesel is helping hybrid sales, too.
• EV and plug-in car tech explained
While the PHEV and standalone hybrid are the two types of electrification you can get in a car without going the full electric vehicle (EV) route, there are many permutations within that. In its simplest form, as seen in cars like the Toyota Yaris, Renault Scenic and Suzuki’s Boosterjet-powered models, the electric motor provides extra power when you put your foot down. There is a limited amount of energy recuperation to the car’s battery, while stop-start is also included.
More complex systems, like that in the Prius and the Hyundai Ioniq/Kia Niro twins, are fitted with a larger battery and electric motor, and can run for greater distances on electric power alone, although this will be no more than around a mile at best before the engine cuts in. These models feature additional energy recovery through braking and coasting, and it’s possible to top-up the battery capacity through smooth driving.
Another addition to the hybrid ranks are the cars featuring a 48-volt electrical system. This is usually found on high-end models like the Audi SQ7 SUV or Mercedes S-Class limo. The higher voltage system is used to power an array of gadgets, from in-car entertainment to active suspensions systems. But the 48v power supply also includes a mild hybrid system to boost fuel economy by allowing cars to ‘coast’ on electric power alone on the motorway, for example.
Plug-in hybrids like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volkswagen’s GTE models or the Volvo XC90 Twin Engine, go a step further still, and feature a plug socket and charging leads so that you can charge the big-capacity battery via the mains. These models can run in electric-only mode for 20-30 miles, and if you do lots of short, local trips and charge the battery regularly, you could easily run on battery power alone for weeks at a time and never need to fill the fuel tank.
Finally there are range extender hybrids, such as the BMW i3. These cars are essentially electric vehicles (EVs), but they also feature a small-capacity internal combustion engine that can recharge the batteries when they’re flat and you don’t have access to a mains charging point. Think of the range extender as an EV with a generator on board, and you get the idea – the engine isn’t there to power the car, it’s just a ‘get you home’ safeguard should the batteries go flat.
• Best electric cars on sale
So which hybrid model is best for you? Well, there are a number of factors to consider. With the change in Road Tax laws in 2017, low emissions no longer qualify a car for a free tax disc. You still get a discount, but the Alternative fuel rate is only £10 less at £130 (£440 if the car costs more than £40k). Company car users – who are still liable to Benefit In Kind tax based on a vehicle’s emissions – will see great savings from driving a low-emissions vehicle when compared to a standard petrol or diesel model, though.
Standalone hybrids are a good choice if you don’t have off-street parking that allows you to plug a PHEV in to charge it up. Of course, if you do buy a PHEV, it’s not necessary for you to plug it in, but with a high initial purchase price and merely average fuel consumption from the engine when the battery is flat (thanks largely to the extra weight of the hybrid system), you’re pouring money down the drain if you never charge a PHEV up while you’re using it.
You may also suffer from compromised practicality in a hybrid. That electric system has to go somewhere, and plug-in versions of standard cars will have less boot space or a smaller fuel tank than their conventional counterparts. And if you do lots of motorway miles, a hybrid won’t necessarily be any more efficient than a petrol or diesel. That’s because at higher speeds the engine will be working with the electric motor providing assistance, thereby harming fuel consumption.
Do you own a hybrid car? Tell us what you think of it in the comments section below and don’t forget to complete our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey…
Next: 1. BMW i3 Range Extender