Should I buy a hybrid or electric car?
Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give our new and used car choices, and tell you how much we can save you.....
My wife and I are more than 70 years old and keen gardeners. We have a diesel Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate at the moment, because we need to carry lots of plants and compost bags from time to time. I'm considering a new vehicle that has lots of safety aids, ease of access and comfort. We have solar panels, so charging a car would be almost free when it’s sunny.
We do up to 6000 miles per year, and aside from a few 500-mile round trips, we mostly do short journeys of less than 30 miles. I can't decide between petrol, a hybrid or a fully electric vehicle, so I'm seeking your help.
We don't want a large SUV. We have sat in a Volvo XC40, though, and found it very comfortable; should we buy one, and what are the other options? We have a maximum of £48,000 to spend. - Terry
Given Terry's small annual mileage and that most of his trips are short journeys into town, an electric car would seem to be the perfect fit here.
Making the case even stronger is the fact that, thanks to his solar charging panels, filling up an electric car should be almost cost-neutral. So, which options can we recommend? First up, the new car options:
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Our recommended choices: Kia e-Niro 150kW First Edition
List price: £36,495 (not including gov't grant)
Target Price: £36,495
If you're thinking of going electric, what better place to start than with our reigning Car of the Year, the Kia e-Niro?
This is an electric family SUV, so it has much of the practicality and space you admired in the Volvo XC40 yet will cost you a fraction of the price to run. And although Target Price discounts are slim, the Government's £3500 electric vehicle grant makes quite a dent in the e-Niro's price tag.
Kia e-Niro 150kW First Edition - interior
It's not just practicality or running costs where the e-Niro shines, either, because it can also travel for up to 253 miles between charges in real-world conditions. So, given that you mostly drive in and around town, you could only have to charge it up once per week – and thanks to your solar panels, that charging should be almost free.
The e-Niro is a great package, then, and sweetening the deal is the fact that it's backed up by Kia's market-leading seven-year warranty.
Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE
List price: £27,005
Target Price: £27,005
If you're not ready to go fully electric just yet, consider the Hyundai Ioniq, which won the Hybrid Car of the Year title at the most recent What Car? Awards.
It features a 1.6-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with a small electric motor, meaning you can travel on electric power alone for short distances.
Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE - interior
And if you want to upgrade the electric portion of your car at a later date, the Ioniq is also available as a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car.
Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI SE L DSG
List price: £25,590
Target Price: £23,124
If space were the only factor by which we were measuring your new car choice, the Skoda Octavia Estate would win hands down.
It's simply cavernous, so whether you're packing it up for a long journey or popping to the garden centre, it will swallow everything you can throw at it and still have space left over.
Skoda Octavia Estate 1.5 TSI SE L DSG - interior
Pair it with the peppy 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine and you'll enjoy sprightly performance, while SE L models come with luxuries including adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and Alcantara-and-leather seat trim.
So there we have the new car options; so what about buying used...?
Our recommended choice: 2018 Jaguar I-Pace
Just occasionally, a manufacturer will come up with a car so suave and so innovative that it blows most of its rivals away. Jaguar is one of those marques that delivers the goods every few years, and with the I-Pace of 2018, it seemingly nailed the luxury electric car class in one beautifully crafted design.
2018 Jaguar I-Pace - interior
What you get here is a classy electric vehicle with an official range of 292 miles – easily enough for your regular journeys and more than enough to make those occasional longer trips a breeze, too. There's a large boot at the back and an additional one at the front, so plenty of room for various gardening duties.
It's great to drive as well, and it never feels like an unnecessarily large car. On top of that, the interior is a work of art: plush, beautifully finished and unashamedly modern. You'll have to extend your budget slightly to buy one, but running costs will be minimal.
2018 Volvo XC90 T8
Very quick and impressively refined, the plug-in hybrid T8 version of the Volvo XC90 offers a decent electric-only range and tremendous seating versatility.
It also comes with all those things we love about the Volvo marque: it's beautifully made, lovely inside, safe as houses and practical beyond most people's needs.
2018 Volvo XC90 T8 - interior
It would cost you more than £60,000 new, but you can buy a year-old example easily for your budget.
2019 Range Rover Evoque D180 S
The new Range Rover Evoque is an excellent all-rounder, with a high-quality interior, a comfortable ride, superb resale values and those stylish looks.
Go for this diesel version and you'll enjoy an official fuel consumption of 41.5mpg, as well as a roomy, nicely equipped interior.
2019 Range Rover Evoque D180 S - interior
There's plenty of boot space, too, and of course no range issues.
So, what about our verdict:
Our recommendation: buy used
This was a close-run contest between two titans of the electric car class. On the one hand, the Kia e-Niro has price on its side, because if Terry were to buy one, he'd have enough left over from his £48,000 budget for a decent holiday. But on the other, the Jaguar I-Pace has more luxury, more space and a similarly impressive range.
What ultimately swings the win in favour of the I-Pace, though, is availability, because while the Jaguar could be on your driveway in a few short weeks, waiting lists for the e-Niro currently mean it will be a year before Terry can have one outside his house. On top of that, the I-Pace is better suited to the idea of luxury grand touring, and for those few 500-mile trips Terry does each year, he'll be grateful for the I-Pace's added comfort.
Our recommendation this time, then, is to buy used.