Compare the best plug-in hybrid cars
Best PHEVs of 2023
The world is moving ever-closer to a total electric car revolution, and at the heart of that has been an uptake in plug-in hybrids. For those not quite ready to make the switch to a fully-electric car or simply want the economy benefits a little bit of battery power can give, plug-in hybrids serve as a great middle-ground between internal combustion and electric. Here is the definitive list of the very best plug-in hybrids you can buy.
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As with a regular hybrid, a plug-in hybrid car gets an electric motor that works with the petrol engine to deliver more power for a smaller engine size. A plug-in, though, also gets a big battery that can be charged up from the mains to give you a useful electric-only range, meaning you can leave the petrol engine to do longer journeys.
The biggest pro is that you can have zero-emissions electric running for short journeys, but you can do longer runs without needing to stop and charge up. Most plug-in hybrids will give you a range on a full charge of around 35 miles — enough to do the regular commute, shopping, and school runs. The best latest versions will do better than that, offering up to 70 miles of electric range. Plug-in hybrids are often quite powerful and fast, too — the BMW 330e has 292hp, as much as the petrol-only 330i, while the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid has a whopping 680hp.
The downside is weight — the bigger batteries of plug-in hybrids make them heavy, and that’s not good for fuel economy on longer runs. Added to that, their fuel tanks are often small, because they have to shrink to make room for the battery, and that packaging issue often means that they have smaller boots than their petrol or diesel sister models. Plug-in hybrids can also be quite expensive to buy, but a final upside is that they’re very tax-efficient for company car buyers.
Whether or not plug-in hybrid or a standard hybrid is best is subjective. A plug-in hybrid has the advantage of being able to be driven on electric-power alone for longer distances but does require regular access to a charger to get best out of them.
Regular hybrid cars are often known as ‘self-charging’, relying on the engine and energy recover to recharge. This does mean you don’t have to worry about charging it yourself but often doesn’t allow for as much electric-only driving.
If you cover a mix of longer journeys and around-town driving, you might find the ability to drive on electricity alone while also having the range reassurance a conventional engine brings to a plug-in hybrid.
If all you cover is short journeys around town, switching to an EV may suit more.
Almost every major brand now offers at least one plug-in hybrid model, and some — Toyota, Kia, Ford, and Hyundai among them — offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of some models.
The current cheapest plug-in hybrid model on sale is the MG HS PHEV — it’s a chunky, mid-size SUV with a 32-mile electric range, and a price tag of £31,095. For that money, you’ll need to put up with a cheap cabin, and a dreadful infotainment system, but hey — it’s cheap and it looks good.
Right now, the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV has the longest electric range of any PHEV, with a claimed 84 miles. It also claims to be able to recharge in just two-and-a-half hours, and can optionally rapid charge from public high-speed chargers, so you should be able to do lots and lots of your driving on just the battery power. The petrol plug-in hybrid does get a bit thirsty on long runs, though — down to around 35mpg. There is a diesel plug-in hybrid though, which should get closer to 50mpg on motorway runs.
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