Ten of the best hybrids
Not ready to go fully electric? These cars will plug the gap...
Ditching fossil fuel and going cold turkey can be a step too far for some motorists but that’s where hybrids plug the gap. They combine the benefits of an electric car with the added peace of mind of a combustion engine to back things up if running out of charge is something you worry about.
They’re ideal for motorists who spend most of their time doing short journeys – which can be done using electric – but occasionally need to go further, which is where the combustion engine can take over.
That said, there are several types of hybrid to choose from and the choices can get a little confusing, so take a look at our jargon buster before you buy.
The government offers various incentives, with most of the hybrid models listed below falling into ‘category two’ – which allows 35 per cent off the price of the car, up to a maximum of £2,500. All prices are inclusive of the government grant but those with an asterisk beside the price do not qualify.
Parallel Hybrid: Wheels powered by electric motor and combustion engine. Can’t be plugged in to recharge. Battery topped up by regenerative braking and the combustion engine.
Pros: Often cheaper than plug-in to buy, much better economy in city-driving than non-electrified models.
Cons: Can only be recharged by regenerative braking/ coasting. Worse fuel economy and emissions than plug-ins.
Range Extender: Wheels are driven by the electric motor. However, an internal combustion engine runs a generator that keeps the battery topped up.
Pros: Low-emission driving with no range anxiety, zero-emission driving on shorter journeys.
Cons: Fuel economy can be very poor if you don’t charge the battery regularly yourself.
Plug-in Hybrid: Works on the same principle as a parallel hybrid but the battery can be recharged via a plug. Keeping the battery topped up reduces the time the internal combustion engine is needed.
Pros: Very low running costs, most models are eligible for government green car grant.
Cons: Usually more expensive to buy. Mild Hybrid: Small electric motor that cannot directly drive the wheels. Instead, it takes over functions such as the air conditioning and infotainment system so the engine can be switched off when stopped, slowing or coasting.
Pros: Gives traditional engines slightly better fuel economy.
Cons: Nowhere near as effective as parallel or plug-in hybrids.