Best hybrid cars in each sector

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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 for What Car?suggests. So, if you 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.

Best hybrid family cars

3. Audi A3 E-Tron

The A3 was our Car of the Year in 2013, and it remains one of the best family hatchbacks around. True, this E-Tron plug-in hybrid version is a more expensive private buy than our favourite petrol and diesel A3s, but it makes a very cheap company car. And while it’s closely related to the Volkswagen Golf GTE, it has a classier interior.

2. Volkswagen Golf GTE

The Golf counters the A3’s swisher plastics and interior trim by offering a lower price, stronger resale values and a slightly smoother ride. It’s enough to give it the edge in our opinion, but both cars can cover more than 30 miles on electric power before their petrol engines need to cut in.

1. Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid

Hyundai does offer a plug-in version of the Ioniq which goes head-to-head with the A3 E-Tron and Golf GTE, but our favourite model 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, and Premium-spec Ioniqs come very well equipped.

Best hybrid SUVs

3. Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4

Like all Mini Countrymans, this plug-in hybrid version offers appealing retro looks and keen handling – although its ride is rather firm. And while it loses some luggage space, due to the need to fit the batteries beneath the boot floor, the payoff is an electric-only range of up to 26 miles.

2. Volvo XC90 T8

For the XC90 T8, Volvo has combined a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with electric drive and plug-in technology for CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and a range of up to 27 miles on electric only power. At the same time, the T8 feels very luxurious and is one of the few hybrid SUVs with seven seats.

1. Audi Q7 E-Tron

Unlike the XC90, the Q7 loses two of its seven seats if you opt for the plug-in hybrid version. However, it’s the better car in most other respects, offering a smoother ride, a faster and more intuitive infotainment system, and an extra seven miles of electric range. It’s also better at juggling electric and petrol power, doing so almost imperceptibly.

Best hybrid executive cars

3. Mercedes C-Class C300h

When it first came out, we pitted this hybrid version of the C-Class against its closest rival, the Lexus IS 300h, with the Mercedes emerging victorious. It feels more agile, is plusher inside and, despite Lexus’s huge experience in the world of hybrids, the C-Class’s CO2 emissions of 94g/km make it cheaper to run. It’s a very smart company car choice.

2. BMW 3 Series 330e

Unlike the Active Hybrid 3 that preceded it, the 330e can be charged from the mains to provide up to 25 miles of zero-emission motoring, and when the petrol motor does kick in, it blends smoothly with the electric motor. What’s perhaps most impressive, though, is that the 330e is much like any other 3 Series to drive, despite weighing a lot more, meaning it strikes a great balance between ride comfort and handling prowess.

1. Volkswagen Passat GTE

The Passat GTE really is the sort of hybrid you could use every day without having to make any compromises. It can travel around 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, and with 31 miles of pure electric range on a full charge, the GTE could potentially cover the majority of journeys without without using a single drop of petrol. In addition, the interior quality is every bit as good as on other Passats, there’s enough room for five adults to sit in comfort, and our preferred version, the Estate, has a boot that’ll take all but the largest of loads.

Best hybrid performance cars

3. Honda NSX

The original NSX was a pioneer, blending supercar looks and speed with typcal Japanese reliability. This new model offers the same sort of desirability, fun and everyday usability, but extends the remit to include modern-minded efficiency, thanks to its clever hybrid powertrain. 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. Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

If the NSX’s eye-widening performance and ability to run near-silently on pure electric power aren’t enough, you should consider the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, because it also offers room for four people and their luggage, and feels supremely classy inside. It’s even a relative bargain – if an £80k luxury car can be called such a thing – because it’s almost £9000 cheaper than the conventional petrol-engined Panamera 4S, despite being more powerful.

1. BMW i8

Using the combination of a three-cylinder petrol engine from the Mini hatchback, high-voltage lithium-ion batteries like the one in your laptop and a powerful electric motor, the i8 might just be the most ambitious car that BMW has ever produced. It looks incredible and handles with precision, yet running costs are tiny. And it even sounds surprisingly good.




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