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Best small hybrids of 2024

Hybrid cars are arguably at their best when they’re small - with less weight to lug around, the battery and electric motor can do more fuel-saving work. There’s a catch, though - smaller hybrids often have less cabin and boot space. Here are the best small hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars on sale in the UK…

Volkswagen Golf

1. Volkswagen Golf

7/10
Volkswagen Golf review
Toyota Corolla

2. Toyota Corolla

8/10
Toyota Corolla review

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Cupra Leon

3. Cupra Leon

8/10
Cupra Leon review
Battery range up to 429 miles
Honda Jazz

4. Honda Jazz

7/10
Honda Jazz review
Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018-2023)

5. Mercedes A-Class

8/10
Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018-2023) review
Battery range up to 40 miles
Audi A3 Sportback

6. Audi A3

7/10
Audi A3 Sportback review
Toyota Yaris Hybrid

7. Toyota Yaris

7/10
Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
Renault Clio

8. Renault Clio

9/10
Renault Clio review
Lexus UX

9. Lexus UX

7/10
Lexus UX review
MINI Countryman (2016-2023)

10. MINI Countryman

7/10
MINI Countryman (2016-2023) review
Battery range up to 28 miles

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Advice about small hybrid cars

Small hybrids FAQs

A hybrid car basically has two engines — a petrol one (or, rarely, a diesel) and an electric motor which sits between the petrol one and the gearbox. Both engines working together give you brisk performance, which  means that the petrol engine can be detuned for better economy. A hybrid can also run for short distances (usually about a mile or so) on electric power, and recharges quickly from driving and braking, so that you end up with a good portion of an average journey — especially an urban on — on electric power alone. A plug-in hybrid takes that basic principle and adds a bigger battery which can be charged from mains power, meaning that you can run for much longer distances on electric, but you’re carrying more weight, so economy on longer runs suffers.

A hybrid doesn’t — it’ll top up its battery as you go from driving and braking. A plug-in hybrid does, as the whole idea is to charge it up and use the battery for your regular day-to-day short journeys, saving the petrol engine for longer runs.

Not that far, because there’s not enough room to stash a big battery. A conventional hybrid (a Clio or Yaris, for example) will cover only a mile or so on electric power, but will do that repeatedly on one journey, charging itself as it goes. The best plug-in hybrids — the Volkswagen Golf e-Hybrid and the Mercedes A250e — will go for an official 44 miles on one charge of their bigger batteries, which equates to north of 30 in the real world, but the penalty is that they’re thirstier on long journeys once the battery is run down but the weight still has to be carried.

It’s actually the Honda Jazz, which costs £20,450 in basic SE form, undercutting both the Toyota Yaris Hybrid and the Renault Clio E-Tech hybrid by between £600 and £900.

Mercedes claims a massive 282mpg for its plug-in hybrid, but of course it will depend on how much you plug it in, how often, and how far you drive it. For solid real-world consumption, look to the Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris, both of which can hit a genuine 60mpg in real-world conditions.

The winner here is the Lexus UX250h, which can swallow 438 litres of whatever you need to carry in its boot.