Used Car of the Year Awards: Hybrid cars
With living costs on the rise, getting a good deal on your next car is more important than ever. That's where our Used Car Awards come in. These are our favourite hybrid cars...
Price from £20,000 Our pick 330e M Sport (Pro Pack)
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if your journeys are usually short and you have access to an electric charger, a plug-in hybrid is a marvellous option, because you can cover your local chores using cheap electric power and save your petrol for those longer journeys. And while plug-in hybrids come in all shapes and sizes, we reckon the BMW 330e – our favourite version of our favourite executive car – is the best of all.
Top of the list of the 330e’s talents is its sheer driver appeal. Not only is it quick (0-62mph takes just 5.2sec), but it’s also beautifully balanced through corners and offers a great sense of connection through the steering wheel. It’s a hybrid for the driver who doesn’t want to sacrifice enjoyment for efficiency.
And it’s not that the 330e under-delivers on the latter front; an official range of up to 37 miles on electric power alone means it’s capable of returning fantastic fuel economy. Of course, that depends on a disciplined charging regime and using electric power wherever possible, but you’ll certainly be quids in if you can manage this.
Beyond the 330e’s performance and potential efficiency, there’s that other 3 Series highlight: its superbly built, classy and very comfortable interior. It also has one of the most user- friendly infotainment systems around, and five adults should have plenty of space to travel together – much more than in the rival Mercedes-Benz C300e. Plus, while the 330e’s battery reduces boot size compared with other 3 Series models, the 375-litre space that remains is enough for five carry-on suitcases.
Now that this latest 330e has been around for four years, it’s remarkably affordable; you can pick up an early car for just £20,000. True, you can have the more practical Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE for less, but it won’t be as classy inside or as good to drive. Plus, in spite of the complex nature of its plug-in hybrid system, the 330e is proving impressively reliable.
We’d look for a 330e M Sport with the optional Pro Pack fitted; this includes adaptive suspension for a plush ride when you engage Comfort driving mode.
Best for practicality
Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate (2017-2023)
Price from £14,000 Our pick 1.4 TSI GTE
If you’re after a combination of great practicality and low running costs, the plug-in Passat Estate GTE ticks all the right boxes. True, it isn’t quite as cavernous inside as its Skoda Superb Estate iV rival, but it still has an enormous boot with easy access, and it can seat five adults in comfort. Plus, the GTE is easier to drive smoothly, thanks to its more consistent brakes, and its tighter body control means it’s less likely to make the kids feel car sick.
Early GTEs are available for as little as £14,000. However, our preferred version is the post- 2019 facelifted model, which has a larger battery for an official electric-only range of 37 miles – up nearly 10 miles on earlier cars. You get the same electric range with the Superb Estate iV, but it didn’t go on sale until 2020 and costs from £23,000 – £4000 more than a comparable Passat GTE.
Volvo XC90 (2015-present)
Price from £27,000 Our pick Recharge T8 Momentum Pro
Our favourite, the plug-in hybrid Recharge T8, is the swiftest XC90, yet its official electric-only range of 43 miles means local trips can be made without using any petrol at all.
It’s also superbly spacious and well finished inside, and its vast boot can swallow 10 carry-on suitcases. Yet for all its versatility, the XC90 is much more agile than the similar-sized Land Rover Discovery.
Prices for the Recharge T8 start at £27,000 for the earliest cars, representing a saving of 38% over its price when new. The Recharge T8 is also cheaper to buy than its BMW X5 xDrive45e rival; the current X5 starts at £48,000 for a 2019 example, while a comparable XC90 will cost you £36,000.
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