Electric cars might be the future of sustainable transport, but hybrid cars will do until they get here. Electric cars are clean, fast and very green, but they lack the range of their fossil-fuelled counterparts – and that’s where hybrid cars come in. Simply put, hybrid cars combine the best of both worlds, giving you clean energy most of the time, and old-fashioned petrol power when your lithium-ion batteries are drained . As hybrid technology becomes cheaper to produce and demand grows, there are more and more hybrid cars on the market to choose from. But which one should you buy? Here, we’ve put together a list of the best hybrid cars on the market right now.
1. Volvo XC90 T8 (starts at £60,455)
We drove the Volvo XC90 last year and found it was one of the most advanced SUVs we’d ever stepped foot in. It’s no surprise then, that Volvo has also upped the technology under the bonnet too, adding a monstrous T8 twin engine powerplant. In addition to a 320bhp turbocharged and supercharged engine, the Volvo’s T8 powertrain adds an 87hp electric motor. The result? In the aptly named Power Mode, the XC90 T8 can rocket to 60mph in 5.3 seconds – but it can also save you money in Eco Mode. Make sure you charge it from the mains, however, as doing it on-the-go sharply reduces your fuel economy.
2. Toyota Prius (starts at £23,395)
First launched in 1997 to relatively little acclaim, the Toyota Prius is the car that started it all, and it’s now rightly the most popular hybrid car on the road: if you’ve got a minicab or an Uber in the last few days, there’s a very good chance you were in a Prius. This year, Toyota updated its hybrid pioneer with sharper styling and even better fuel performance at 85.6mpg. If you’d prefer a plug-in version of the Prius, you’re in luck; Toyota announced a plug-in hybrid version (PHEV) of the Prius at this year’s New York Motor Show.
3. Audi A3 e-tron (starts at £35,690)
The Audi A3 Sportback is one of the best premium hatchbacks on the market, and the Audi A3 e-tron takes all of that and combines a 1.4-litre TFSI with an electric motor. The result? The Audi A3 e-tron is one of the best hybrids around, and only puts out of 37g/km of CO2, and around 177mpg. Throw in the premium fit and finish you’d expect from an Audi A3, and the result is a eco-friendly and stylish package that makes a lot financial sense.
4. Volkswagen Golf GTE (starts at £33,755)
The Golf is one of the most iconic, enduring models in VW’s history, so it’s pretty significant that Volkswagen has released a hybrid version of the hatchback. From the outside, the Golf GTE looks like any other Golf, but VW has managed to add a 101bhp electric motor to a more traditional 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. Although it lacks the finesse of thoroughbred Golf GTI, the GTE offers good performance on B roads – and even better performance on the motorway. Volkswagen says the Golf can return around 41.7mpg when using a combination of its petrol and electric engines.
5. Lexus GS 450h (starts at £49,995)
Lexus is a name that’s known for luxury, speed and quality – and the GS 450h continues the trend. On the outside, its sharp angular looks suggest it’s a thoroughbred coupe, and the spec sheet tells the same story. Thanks to a huge 3.5-litre V6 motor and a high output electric motor, the GS 450h can hit 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, but combines it with fuel economy that won’t break the bank.
6. Mercedes C350 Hybrid (starts at £37,600)
The Mercedes C350 isn’t the company’s first stab at making a hybrid – but it’s the German brand’s best one by a long way. Featuring 208hp from a conventional engine and 80hp from an electric motor, the C50 saloon can get to 60mph from a standstill in 5.9 seconds, with the estate version following at 6.2. But the C35 is economical, too, with Mercedes quoting 134.5mpg for both the saloon and the estate. But the best part? To improve your eco-driving, Mercedes includes a haptic accelerator that pushes back when you’re being too throttle-happy.
7. BMW i3 Range Extender (starts at £34,130)
We included the super-refined i3 in our “Best electric cars roundup“, but it also comes in a hybrid version. The i3 “Range Extender” model adds a small 650cc two-cylinder motor, and it only comes to life when the battery drops to 3.5% – or around three miles of range. Interestingly, the motor doesn’t actively power the wheels but instead acts as a generator for the i3’s existing batteries. The result? The Range Extender i3’s range is almost doubled to around 190 miles – but it does cost an extra £3,150. However, if you’re interested in an i3 we’d say DON’T buy one just yet. Reports suggest BMW will be new model of the i3 as early as June this year.