The best hybrid car 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...
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.
And, while diesel power still makes a lot of sense for those doing big annual mileages, the lower fuel costs and environmental credentials of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid car mean that more people than ever before are choosing them. So, if you do 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.
Best hybrid family cars
3. Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid
Hyundai does offer a plug-in version of the Ioniq – which can travel up to 39 miles on electric power – and even a fully electric model, but our favourite version 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. It strikes a fine balance between ride comfort and cornering composure, too.
2. Honda Jazz
Over the years, the Honda Jazz has garnered a reputation for being among the most spacious small cars you can buy, and this latest version leaves that reputation intact. What makes it especially tempting, however, is that you can mix that space with the fuel-saving benefits of a hybrid. The 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor work well together, and you can genuinely drive on electric only power for a decent amount of time on city streets, before the petrol engine takes over on faster roads. We managed to return 60mpg on a varied test route, and this bodes well for your running costs.
1. Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid
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 (although this version has a smaller boot due to the battery pack). Add in a cosseting ride, generous standard spec and super-low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and it makes an excellent choice for both private and company drivers and really stands out in the family car class.
Best hybrid SUVs
3. Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD
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. It's also the most efficient and refined CR-V you can buy, and this adds to its appeal as a family car.
2. Kia Niro PHEV
Just like the Hyundai Ioniq above, the Kia Niro is available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. It's the fully electric e-Niro that we prefer, but this plug-in hybrid version is a great choice if you still want the reassurance of petrol power for longer trips. It's capable of travelling for up to 30 miles without using a drop of fuel, and the 1.6-litre petrol engine is a strong performer when your battery is depleted. We also like that every Niro is well equipped, plus you have the reassurance of Kia's seven-year warranty should anything go wrong.
1. BMW X5 xDrive45e
This plug-in hybrid version of the luxurious BMW X5 matches a 3.0-litre petrol engine with a big battery and a powerful electric motor. The result is one of the longest official electric-only ranges for any plug-in hybrid, at up to 60 miles. And, while we managed just shy of 33 miles of electric power during mixed driving, that lower figure is still impressive, especially when you consider that this X5 is just as comfortable and luxurious as other models in the range.
Best hybrid executive and luxury cars
3. 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. 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.
2. Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI iV
If you'll mainly be driving in town or can at least make good use of its electric power reserves, this plug-in hybrid version of the Skoda Superb is highly recommendable. It's powered by an 85kW electric motor working in team with a 1.4-litre petrol engine, for a total output of 215bhp. That makes it one of the quicker versions of the Superb, and as well as covering the 0-62mph sprint in 7.7sec, it can also travel on electric power alone for 35 miles. Plus, as with other Superbs, it's simply enormous inside, and very comfortable.
1. BMW 3 Series 330e
The latest BMW 3 Series picked up no less than three trophies at the most recent What Car? Awards – one for safety, one for being our favourite executive car and another for being our favourite plug-in hybrid – and two of those trophies were lifted by the same version: the 330e. It really is an excellent all-rounder, with decent electric range, wonderful long-distance comfort and an engaging driving style. Add in lots of luxuries and an infotainment system that's easy to get along with, and it's very easy to recommend.
Best hybrid performance cars
3. Honda NSX
The original NSX was a pioneer, blending supercar looks and speed with typical Japanese reliability. This latest model offers the same kind of desirability, fun and everyday usability, but extends the remit to include modern-minded efficiency, thanks to its clever hybrid tech. 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. Polestar 1
Although it looks quite sensible and Scandinavian on the outside, the Polestar 1 is as much about thrilling performance as it is about saving you money on your fuel bills. Not only does it have dual electric motors that together produce in excess of 220bhp, but also a 2.0-litre petrol engine that's both turbocharged and supercharged. All this adds up to make the 1 very fast indeed. Add in the fact that it's enjoyable to drive, whether slowly or quickly, and has a pleasant interior, and it's clear that Polestar could make a good name for itself as a standalone brand before long.
1. Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid
This plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche Panamera is seriously fast, with a combined 552bhp coming from its V6 petrol engine and electric motor. Indeed, it can manage the 0-62mph sprint in just 3.7 seconds, yet can also travel for up to 33 miles without using a drop of fuel. It's also incredibly comfortable inside, and surprisingly practical for everyday use.