Electric Car Awards 2023: Best hybrid large SUV

With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid large SUV...

Best hybrid large SUV

Mercedes GLC 300e AMG Line Premium

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Back in the late 1990s, mobile phones were all about being as small as possible. But while today’s smartphones are much chunkier and more power hungry than those vintage items, the trade-off in usability is worth it.

A similar shift has taken place in the family car world, with many buyers now walking straight past traditional saloons and estates and going for a chunkier SUV instead. Indeed, the Mercedes GLC is the brand’s best-selling car, and it’s easy to see why.

Although it’s not as sleek or nimble to drive as the equivalent Mercedes C-Class, the raised ride height makes access easy and the commanding seating position provides a great view out. The SUV’s large boot opening helps when loading bulky cargo, while boot capacity (with the seats up) is slightly more than the estate’s.

Mercedes GLC interior dashboard

The GLC comes with the same dazzling interior as its C-Class stablemates, so beats its rivals for sheer wow factor with glitzy trim finishers, plenty of ambient lighting and a pair of large, crisp-looking digital displays. There’s more space inside for four 6ft-tall occupants than in the rival Lexus NX, too, along with plenty of storage space.

The GLC’s real standout feature, though, is its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) tech. This sees a 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with a pair of electric motors, powered by a sizeable, 31.2kWh battery. With an official electric range of 80 miles, the GLC 300e leaves other large PHEV SUVs, such as the NX 450h and Volvo XC60 Recharge T6, firing up their petrol engines far sooner. It also equates to an ultra-low company car tax rating of 5%, commanding a smaller monthly salary sacrifice than the 8% or 12% of its rivals. That big battery takes around five hours to charge when using a 7kW home wallbox, although it can accept up to 11kW from a public charger, reducing the time to less than three hours.

The GLC 300e is equipped with regenerative braking to recover some energy (and help slow the car down) when you lift off the accelerator, with a default adaptive setting that automatically varies the strength as you approach a bend or junction. For those with an eye on performance, the GLC’s 0-62mph time of 6.7sec isn’t far behind that of some hot hatches.

Mercedes GLC rear cornering

Understandably, there will be plenty of buyers who care more about comfort than outright pace, and the GLC has an answer to that, too. With standard air suspension at the rear, it does a fine job of soaking up bumps, plus the GLC remains hushed even at motorway speeds.

For all of these reasons, the GLC 300e is not only our favourite hybrid large SUV but also our top pick of plug-in hybrids in general. It’s a strong option for private buyers and even more of a no-brainer for company car drivers.

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