slideshow

The best hybrid cars in each class

Whether you're looking for a family hatchback, an SUV or a performance car, there's a hybrid to suit. We take a look at the top three models in each sector.....

15 Oct 2019 16:44

Almost one in four people who currently drive a diesel plan to switch to a hybrid or electric model when they next change their car, research by What Car? suggests.

Hybrid cars compilation image

So, if you decide to go down the hybrid route, what should you choose?

To help you decide, we've named our top three hybrids in a range of sectors, starting with family cars. And remember, if any of them take your fancy, our New Car Buying service could potentially save you thousands.

First up, the best hybrid family cars:

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Best hybrid family cars:

Toyota Yaris

3: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Icon

Like all Yaris models, the hybrid has light controls and a tight turning circle, so parking or negotiating narrow city streets is a doddle.

However, its suspension settings are bespoke to cope with the added weight of the batteries, and the changes actually make it more comfortable than conventional petrol variants.

3: Toyota Yaris Hybrid Icon - interior

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Icon - interior

To top it all off, the Yaris Hybrid has the best town True MPG figure of any car we’ve tested. As a result, the scratchy plastics and dated infotainment system are easier to forgive. Just bear in mind that a new Yaris will go on sale next year.

2: Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium

Hyundai does offer a plug-in version of the Ioniq, which can travel up to 39 miles on electric power, but our favourite model is the conventional petrol-electric hybrid.

This is much cheaper, yet it still offers diesel-rivalling fuel economy on the motorway – something that's unusual for a hybrid.

2: Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium - interior

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium - interior

It strikes a fine balance between ride comfort and cornering composure, too, and Premium-spec Ioniqs come very well equipped.

1: Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech

The Corolla is the best hybrid hatchback you can buy right now. Even the lesser 1.8-litre model offers adequate acceleration for most situations, while the 2.0-litre is properly punchy.

1: Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior

Add in a cosseting ride, generous standard spec and super-low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions that make it an excellent choice for both private and company drivers, and it really stands out in this class.

Now on to SUVs:

Best hybrid SUVs:

Toyota RAV4

3: Toyota RAV4 2.5

Its ride and handling may be ordinary, but the RAV4 is a large and practical SUV that comes very well equipped and benefits from Toyota's stellar reliability record.

3: Toyota RAV4 2.5 - interior

Toyota RAV4 2.5 - interior

What's more, it makes plenty of financial sense if you're a company car driver, thanks to its low CO2 emissions.

2: Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR

Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR

Honda's latest CR-V offers excellent space for both passengers and luggage, and the hybrid version – which combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor – provides plenty of poke.

2: Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR - interior

Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR - interior

It's also the most efficient and refined CR-V you can buy, which adds to its appeal as a family car.

1: Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription

Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription

For the XC90 T8, Volvo has combined a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with electric drive and plug-in technology for CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and a range of up to 28.6 miles on electric only power.

1: Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription - interior

Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription - interior

At the same time, the T8 feels very luxurious and is one of the few hybrid SUVs with seven seats.

Now on to executive and luxury cars:

Best hybrid executive and luxury cars:

Mercedes S-Class

3: Mercedes S-Class S560e AMG Line

Why not combine low emissions with luxury car comfort? The S560e keeps everything we love about the regular S-Class, such as its long-distance cruising capability and stunning interior, and adds a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine working in conjunction with an electric motor.

3: Mercedes S-Class S560e AMG Line - interior

Mercedes S-Class S560e AMG Line - interior

You can travel for around 30 miles on electric power alone – or use the electric motor to boost acceleration.

2: BMW 5 Series 530e SE

BMW 5 Series 530e SE

We're big fans of the BMW 5 Series: it's our favourite luxury car and was even our overall Car of the Year in 2017, having beaten rivals such as the Audi A6 and Jaguar XF.

2: BMW 5 Series 530e SE - interior

BMW 5 Series 530e SE - interior

The plug-in hybrid 530e version can cover about 20 miles on electricity alone in real-world conditions before switching to petrol power, so it's a great option for those living in the city.

It's also officially the most frugal 5 Series model, as well as the cheapest to tax.

1: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

The Passat GTE really is the sort of hybrid you could use every day without having to make any compromises. It can travel around 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, and with 34 miles of pure electric range on a full charge, it could potentially cover the majority of journeys without using a single drop of petrol.

1: Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate - interior

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate - interior

In addition, the interior quality is every bit as good as in other Passats, there’s enough room for five adults to sit in comfort, and our preferred version, the Estate, has a boot that’ll take all but the largest of loads.

Now on to performance cars:

Best hybrid performance cars:

Honda NSX

3:  Honda NSX

The original NSX was a pioneer, blending supercar looks and speed with typical Japanese reliability. This new model offers the same sort of desirability, fun and everyday usability, but extends the remit to include modern-minded efficiency, thanks to its clever hybrid tech.

3: Honda NSX - interior

Honda NSX - interior

And its electric motors don't just improve fuel economy; they also fill in the gaps in the petrol engine's performance and help push the car into bends.

2: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

If the NSX's eye-widening performance and ability to run near-silently on pure electric power aren't enough, you should consider the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, because it also offers room for four people and their luggage, and feels supremely classy inside.

2: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid - interior

Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid - interior

It's even a relative bargain – if an £86k luxury car can be called such a thing – because it's almost £11,000 cheaper than the conventional petrol-engined Panamera 4S, despite being more powerful.

1: BMW i8

BMW i8

Using the combination of a three-cylinder petrol engine from the Mini hatchback, high-voltage lithium-ion batteries like the ones in your laptop and a powerful electric motor, the i8 might just be the most ambitious car that BMW has ever produced.

1: BMW i8 - interior

BMW i8 - interior

It looks incredible and handles with precision, yet running costs are tiny. And it even sounds surprisingly good.