With every passing year, hybrids are becoming increasingly common on our roads. Due to tightening emissions regulations, the combination of an internal combustion engine with an electric motor offers the performance that buyers want combined with the low emissions that meet tough government pollution regulations. The trade-off is fuel economy which is often superior to what a regular petrol or diesel car can manage.
Based on our aggregated wowscores, we take a look at the top ten on sale in the UK to help you figure out if hybrid motoring is for you.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
There are very few petrol/electric superminis on sale in the UK, so Toyota manages to steal a march on many rival manufacturers in the shape of the Yaris Hybrid. At 85.6 mpg, there are few small cars that can compete with its efficiency. The 100hp powertrain moves down the road nicely enough, even allowing you to cruise in all-electric mode if you’re delicate with the throttle.
Many testers would argue that other superminis are better to drive, even when the Yaris isn’t encumbered with an electric motor. However, it is roomy and well-built inside and, if you can match those economy figures, then running costs should be very low.
Lexus IS 300h
Lexus has generally taken a slightly different approach to its range compared to the established German manufacturers. The main focus is on refinement rather than outright driving competence, which means that a hybrid system is well matched to the laid-back character of the IS. A 180hp petrol and 41hp electric motor take care of propulsion – endowing the IS 300h with the ability to make quiet, brisk progress. It handles nicely too, and the cabin is is amongst the best in the class, both for style and quality.
The only drawback – and it’s a big one – is the price. For nearly £10,000 less you can buy a faster and similarly economical BMW 320d. We’re afraid that makes the IS 300h only worthy of recommendation to the most determined of hybrid fans.
Citroen DS5 Hybrid
The DS5 family hatch combines a 2.0-litre turbodiesel powering the front wheels with an electric motor sending drive to the rears, resulting in a 200hp, all-wheel-drive hybrid. Both performance and economy are strong: 0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds, while Citroen claims mpg figures are in the mid-seventies.
In quite a radical departure from Citroens of the past, the interior is extremely well built from materials whose quality can rival many of those used by premium manufacturers. Choose the smaller alloy wheels with high-profile tires for a smoother ride – larger wheels seriously compromise the DS5’s comfort.
Mitsuibishi Outlander PHEV
It makes sense to use an SUV as a starting point for a hybrid. Batteries and associated electric gubbins are heavy, so the penalties for squeezing them into such a large vehicle are less than in, say, a supermini. Mitsubishi have put this logic to good use with the Outlander PHEV.
With the ability to run on electric power for 32.5miles and batteries that can be recharged via a mains plug, it allows the Outlander to return a claimed fuel economy of 148mpg. Perfect for those who might do plenty of town driving but still want the security and space that a full-size SUV provides.
Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
The Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is what we, and many other testers, believe is a much better alternative to the previously mentioned Lexus IS 300H. At nearly £50,000 it is very expensive, but for the money you’ll get a faster and vastly more economical car than the Lexus.
Internal combustion is provided courtesy of a 2.4-litre turbodiesel pushing out a healthy 215hp and, with the 70hp electric motor kicking in, the result is a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds. If you can reach the claimed 155.2mpg then you should be able to start recovering some of that on-the-road price…
The Prius has always prioritised fuel economy over everything else, and was the first hybrid in the UK to sell in significant numbers. A claimed 72.3mpg and frugal, electrically-assisted drive make the Prius a welcome everyday companion, and top safety and reliability scores will add peace of mind for anyone with a family in tow.
It isn’t perfect – styling both inside and out is a little bit awkward and, compared to some similarly-economical diesels, it is rather expensive, but anyone looking for a roomy, cheap-to-run family hatch could do much worse.
Mercedes E300 BlueTEC Hybrid
There are few cars on the market that can be considered a better long-distance cruiser than the Mercedes E300 Hybrid. The standard E-Class is comfortable, spacious and cosseting, but the fuel economy figures of the hybrid promise a 1,200 mile-plus range.
Carbon Dioxide emissions of 109g/km will appeal to company car drivers and, unlike several other hybrids in our top ten, practicality isn’t compromised by the addition of electric motors and batteries. The E300 Hybrid is one of the best choices of an already-talented E-Class range.
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen‘s take on a C-segment hybrid aims to deliver some excitement and driving involvement and, according to critics, it has pulled off the feat admirably. A total power output of 204hp sees to the performance side of things – 0-62mph takes 7.6 seconds – while a thumping 258lb ft of torque adds flexibility making the GTE feel faster than the bare figures suggest.
Everything you see and touch is typical Golf – familiar styling on the outside, an attractive, well-built fascia on the inside, and decent driving dynamics which are only slightly blunted by the weight of the hybrid system. It’s easy to forgive the compromised driver involvement when you notice that the GTE sips its fuel at a rate of 188mph though…
BMW i3 Range Extender
Entering the city car market will have been seen as a big risk for a premium brand like BMW, and they needed to produce something unique to reduce the risk of diluting their image. With the i3, they certainly delivered.
The pick of the range is not the full EV model, but the range extender featured here, as it adds the ability for the i3 to venture further out of town. Here, the 168hp electric motor is backed up by a 647cc twin-cylinder engine from BMW’s motorcycle range. Keep the tiny nine-litre tank topped up and the petrol engine works as a generator for the batteries, adding around 80 miles to the total range.
If you can get over the quirky styling and slightly firm ride – a sprightly 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds, a gorgeous, spacious cabin and entertaining handling leaves you with a genuinely talented machine.
At nearly £100,000 it’s certainly pricey, but the i8 is undoubtedly one of the most impressive, technologically advanced cars money can buy.
Not only does it look spectacular inside and out, but it offers performance to match the looks. An advanced carbon-composite construction offsets the added weight of batteries and electric motors, and combustion power comes in the form of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol borrowed from the Mini Cooper.
In terms of outright pace, it only falls slightly short of BMW’s own M4 Coupe with a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds, yet it’s capable of returning a claimed 135mpg. Around town, it is possible to potter about on 129hp of lung-friendly electric power for over twenty miles. While the handling thrills can’t quite match the Porsche 911, it comes fairly close. Quite simply, if you can afford it, you’re buying one of the best all rounders on sale today.
Hy time to get a hybrid?
If you like this list why not check out these cars on the carwow car configurator and see how much you could save. In the meantime why not check out our preview of the latest alternative fuel to make it to the UK – hydrogen – in the form of Honda’s new Mirai FCV.