Hybrid cars give you the best of both worlds: some zero-emission driving, as well as greater range for longer journeys. Here is our pick of the best. Today there’s a hybrid for every purpose – from supermini to supercar – all united by the common theme of having two power sources: an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Most will run for a certain distance on purely electric power, giving zero-emission driving and improving your fuel consumption, but with the added reassurance of the ‘normal’ engine for longer journeys. Hybrids tend to suit buyers who spend a lot of time in town, where it’s easiest to take full advantage of the electric assistance. However, if you’re more regularly doing long journeys, a decent diesel may make more sense. There’s also the decision to make between a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
In a regular hybrid, the batteries are recharged automatically as you drive, but in a plug-in, the batteries are larger and you can charge them up from the mains or a dedicated charge point. That means plug-ins have a longer range on electric power and better fuel economy, but they tend to be relatively expensive to buy, and you’ll need to have easy access to charging facilities. If you reckon a hybrid car is for you, see which models we recommend, and which to look out.
The Passat GTE is a really compelling solution to eco-friendly motoring. Its plug-in hybrid technology gives the car sensational efficiency figures, and when you need more than its 30-mile electric-only range, it still has you covered, and with no range anxiety. Its estate car practicality also makes it really good car for families, and the car’s quality and driving manners are also exceptional. It’s a terrific all-rounder.
There aren’t many small hybrids around. The Yaris combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. It’s an expensive model within the Yaris range, but it’s also the most economical, as well as being very well equipped and backed up by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty. And, although it’s not cheap for a Yaris, it’s one of the cheapest hybrid cars you can buy in the world.
The GTE looks like the Golf GTI hot hatch, and it has enough pace to keep up with most hot hatches, too. But, it has something none of them have; average fuel economy of more than 150mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 40g/km, thanks to the combination of its 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor. And it’s a Golf, so you get the class and quality buyers love.
The XC90 T8 can travel up to 20 miles or so on a single charge, so it’s perfect for people who spend a lot of their life in town. Beyond that, the petrol engine means it can go hundreds of miles without needing to be refuelled, but what really sets this seven-seater apart is the superb quality and classy design inside, as well as its excellent safety features.
Just look at the styling of this, and then look at the figures. It does 0-62mph in just over four seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph, yet its official average fuel economy is over 130mpg and CO2 emissions are just 49g/km. A supercar with a conscience.