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Best plug-in hybrid cars on the market

Hybrid cars are popular among environmentally conscious vehicle buyers for their low emissions and good fuel efficiency, while electric vehicles are still limited in range and opportunities for recharging. Plug-in hybrid cars give you the best of both worlds with a larger battery and an external power socket, which you can use to recharge at your home or at charging stations on the street.


The large battery gives you a much greater all-electric range for town driving and longer distance trips than a regular hybrid vehicle would typically offer. The petrol engine gives you hybrid fuel efficiency and independence from the still-sparse electric charging network, allowing you to take your car out longer distances and further away from the city.


If you want to take a step towards even lower vehicle emissions and a smaller carbon footprint, here are the ten best plug-in hybrid cars to consider:

  • Ford Kuga PHEV

  • Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In

  • Volvo XC60 Recharge

  • BMW 330e

  • Mercedes-Benz E 300 e and E 300 de

  • BMW 545e

  • BMW X5 xDrive45e

  • Renault Captur E-Tech PHEV

  • Skoda Octavia iV

  • Mercedes-Benz C 300 e


Ford Kuga PHEV

Ford Kuga PHEV

The Ford Kuga SUV is the first of Ford's vehicles to come with a plug-in hybrid system. At £36,905-£39,305, the PHEV is at the top end of the Ford Kuga's price range, but it still has a large boot space and offers good practicality, which has made it a popular choice. Unlike some rival SUVs, the Kuga PHEV is front-drive only, but that doesn't limit its versatility. In electric mode, the Kuga is quiet, and when you need it, the engine is there for a burst of acceleration. The Kuga's range in electric driving is 35 miles, while it gets 201.8 mpg with 32 g/km emissions.


Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In

The Hyundai Ioniq is aimed to compete with the Toyota Prius, and its range of 39 miles on electric driving and emissions of 26 g/km both beat the Prius. Fuel economy is also excellent at 256.8 mpg, but you will have to keep the battery topped up to achieve this. The Ioniq's boot space is sufficient for most families, but its 139 bhp powertrain will make it feel sluggish. This car has been designed for fuel efficiency over all other considerations.


Volvo XC60 Recharge

The Volvo XC60 Recharge is a premium SUV designed to do the daily commute on electric power alone. There are three versions, R-Design, Inscription, and the Polestar Engineered, which has 400 bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and can reach 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds. The XC60 electric motor drives the rear wheels while the petrol engine drives the front, but you won't notice the transition between the two motors.


It also has a smooth gearbox, a refined upmarket interior and a 468-litre boot. The top speed is limited to 112 mph, which with Volvo's other excellent safety technology, makes this a quality family vehicle.


BMW 330e

BMW 330e

The current release of the BMW 3 Series has been planned to be a plug-in hybrid since the start, so the car's passenger space has not been affected by its design. However, the boot capacity has been reduced to 375 litres from the usual 480 litres. The Touring 330e is also available if you need more space, which is the first estate car variant offered. The plug-in hybrid powertrain adds extra weight, but the BMW chassis is as excellent as ever, and the car handles well. The car can achieve 36 miles on battery power, and it has good fuel economy and low costs, with 176.6-217.3 mpg and 30-38 g/km emissions.


Mercedes-Benz E 300 e and E 300 de

The Mercedes-Benz E-class plug-in hybrid comes as either petrol or one of the few diesel hybrids available in the car market. Mercedes claim up to 217.3 mpg for its diesel and up to 188 mpg for the petrol version, although real-world driving will be less. The Benz E300 e has plenty of power, with 316 bhp and reaching 0-62 mph in 5.9s. It tops out at 155 mph, and with superb ride quality and hushed powertrain, this car is an excellent cruiser for long distances.


BMW 545e

The BMW 545e X-drive boasts a powerful six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine, which delivers 387 bhp and a seamless transition between electric and petrol power. The battery is smaller than in some other ranges, but it has enough capacity to reach 33 miles on electric driving and boost the fuel efficiency to 166 mpg with 40 g/km emissions. The smaller battery means that the 545e X-Drive is more agile than other PHEVs, with excellent control and a smooth, supple ride.


BMW X5 xDrive45e

BMW's premium SUV is designed for comfort, refinement, as well as practicality, and the PHEV offering is no different. It comes with a 24 kWh battery and 3.0-litre turbocharged engine, giving it a claimed electric range of 54 miles and fuel economy of 201.8-235.4 mpg with 27-31 g/km emissions.


The engine also delivers 0-62 mph in 5.6s, and the supple suspension limits body roll so that the xDrive45e is a comfortable, luxurious drive.


Renault Captur E-Tech PHEV

The Renault Captur is a great small-size SUV that can seat four adults in comfort or, thanks to a cleverly designed adjusting bench, can offer great boot space at the expense of a little less legroom. The Captur E-tech has a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, with which a 9.8 kWh battery gives it 158 bhp and a claimed electric range of 31 miles. Its 188.3 mpg fuel economy and 34-35 g/km emissions also make this car very cheap to run.


Skoda Octavia iV

Skoda Octavia iV

The Skoda Octavia is a comfortable and roomy family saloon. The new PHEV version comes with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and an electric motor from the Volkswagen Golf GTE. The powertrain delivers 201 bhp, with an electric range of 34 miles. The 282 mpg range with 22-33 g/km emissions makes this one of the most economical company cars to drive, with just half the tax liability of the 12.5-litre petrol Octavia.


Mercedes-Benz C 300 e

The Mercedes C-Class executive saloon is comfortable and refined, and the C300e delivers the same quality. It features a 127 bhp electric motor combined with a 2.0-litre 201 bhp petrol engine. The 25.4 kWh battery also holds sufficient charge for a 60-mile electric range, which is more than enough for daily commuting and longer drives. The huge electric range delivers spectacular economy and emissions, with claims of up to 470.8 mpg and 14-15 g/km.


What factors should you consider when choosing the best plug-in hybrid car?

There are plenty of reasons to look at switching from a petrol or diesel car to a plug-in hybrid. You can take advantage of incentives, lower tax rates, or even just enjoy a quiet electric ride in town. The plug-in hybrid powertrain gives you the power and performance of an internal combustion engine when you really need it and lets you drive without worrying about whether or not you will be able to find a charging point.

  • Design: PHEVs come in models to suit all your needs, from a small family SUV to a sporty executive saloon. You can get eco-friendly performance without limiting the usability of your car.

  • Price: The downside of PHEVs is that they come at a premium price. The powertrain is more complex than both petrol/diesel engines and fully electric motors, and until demand makes PHEVs or electric cars the default, that is how it is likely to stay.

  • Usage: The benefits of the electric motor really only come into their own when you charge it consistently and use it within its range. If you intend to take your PHEV for long distances rather than commutes, then you can find that the fuel economy is closer to that of a pure i-c vehicle or, in some cases, worse.

  • Performance: The upside is that PHEVs have far better fuel economy and emissions than diesel or petrol engines, so you will likely recoup your higher investment in much lower fuel bills. It also means that you can take advantage of lower tax brackets for road tax and other benefits. This reduced operational cost and additional tax benefit make PHEVs an economical option for fleet vehicles and company cars.

Conclusion

There are so many great PHEVs available nowadays to suit every need and almost every price range. Their performance ranges from good to great, and the fuel efficiency and emissions range from great to spectacular. As fuel prices rise, electric charging networks expand, and environmental performance becomes more and more important. So now is a great time to consider plugging in with one of these ten best plug-in hybrid vehicle models.


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