Say “hybrid car” to most people and their thoughts will turn to the Toyota Prius – a vehicle once scorned by Clarkson types for its worthiness, but the world’s most successful hybrid car nonetheless, with north of 6 million sold worldwide. It’s not on our list of the best hybrids you can buy right now, however, simply for its propensity to make you look like an Uber driver, but we feel duty bound to note that Toyota has improved its interior refinement and handling of late.
Still, the hybrid marketplace has become so diverse there are dozens of green options out there that better combine good looks and satisfying driving with sensible fuel efficiency. Hybrids are eligible for BIK (benefit in kind) tax credits, depending on their CO2 emissions, and qualify for a government grant of up to £3,500 towards their purchase price. Since the Prius launched in 1997 hybrids have become a standard part of nearly every manufacturer’s range, spanning SUVs, superminis and sports cars. For our money, these are the best hybrid cars you can buy.
Rated: Best Supercar
The original NSX was a revolution when in launched in 1991, promising Ferrari-like power and looks with, well, Honda-like reliability. It was technically advanced, and designed with F1 driver Ayrton Senna. But then Honda made us wait until 2016 for a sequel. The new NSX is a petrol-electric hybrid supercar, making 573hp from a 3.5l V6 engine and three electric motors, boasting some of the most up-to-date styling in the industry and yet again pioneering the use of innovative materials and design.
BMW i8 Roadster
Rated: Best Convertible
BMW’s i8 Coupe still turns heads for its unusual two-tone bodywork and futuristic panel shapes, and arguably losing its roof has made it even more striking for design-lovers. BMW has boosted its battery power over the Coupe, bringing a longer electric-only range (33 miles) as well as more oomph (with the extra weight of the convertible, the i8 Roadster is just 0.2 seconds slower to 62mph, at 4.6s). Outright speed isn’t the whole story however – the appeal of the i8 lies in how petrol and electricity combine to make a very capable all-round sports car. Inside, the rear seats have made way for a larger storage capacity, and options now include a heads-up display.
Porsche Panamera 4 e-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Rated: Best Luxury Hybrid
The first Panamera was easy to respect but hard to love – a nice way of saying it just wasn’t very stylish. The second generation has fixed the proportions, particularly in “Sport Turismo” wagon spec. Naturally it’s a powerful car, but what sets the Panamera e-Hybrid apart is the interior: a cut above anything else in the hybrid space. Comfortable, ergonomic and clever, with just the right balance of brushed aluminium and plush leather, with a dash that shows how seamlessly large touchscreens can be integrated if you make the effort.
Volvo S90 T8 Twin Engine
Rated: Best for Business
Volvo’s flagship saloon only comes with a hybrid powertrain in its most expensive trim levels, but the T8 Twin Engine is worth it for modern captains of industry. The tasteful interior is all quiet confidence and sophistication with little of the braggadocio of its German rivals, and the same could be said of the unfussy exterior. The addition of an electric motor gives it a mighty 402 horsepower, while CO2 emissions are just 49g/km. It’ll do 28 miles on electricity alone, and is spacious enough for long trips.
Rated: Most Modern
From the makers of the Prius, we bring you this: the “Coupe High-Rider”, a niche-filling crossover that looks meaner than any hybrid has a right to. Underneath there is the same combination of 1.8l petrol engine and electric motors that you’ll find in a Prius or Auris, but presented in a design that won’t send passers-by to sleep. It’s not fast, and it’s not huge inside thanks to that tapered roofline, but it’s good for at least 55mpg and it looks cool inside and out thanks to a flowing, asymmetric dashboard design.
Lexus LC 500h
Rated: Best Looking
There’s something of the Jekyll and Hyde about the LC 500: it’s available as a very old-school, naturally aspirated V8, or as a highly advanced hybrid, mixing a 3.5l V6 with one large electric motor and a complicated gearbox to deliver 345 horsepower, good for 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. In hybrid guise it’s better thought of as a grand tourer than out-and-out sports car, but the good thing is it’s got the looks for it – a classic silhouette given verve and character by the jagged front and rear lights. It’s the most memorable Lexus since… possibly ever?
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
Rated: Best for Value
I know what you’re thinking. How can the Ioniq be best for value when it’s not even the cheapest car on the list? Easily. It may cost a little more than the C-HR, for example, but its CO2 emissions are lower (84g/km) and its fuel efficiency is better (78.5mpg). It’s a more spacious, family-friendly car, and you also get a market-leading warranty – five years on the car and eight years on the battery. It’s nicer to look at than a Prius, in our estimation, and nicer to sit in too.
Mini Countryman Hybrid
Rated: Best for Fun
Putting the “fun” in “functional” is the Mini Countryman. Extolling the benefits of driving a hybrid (in this case, a CO2 emissions rating of just 49g/km, qualifying the Mini for the lowest possible tax bracket) isn’t thrilling stuff, but 0-62 in 6.8 seconds and handling to match is. Mini’s design language hasn’t faded since its revival in 2001, and the Countryman has one of the best interiors in the range. Since 2018, all models come with 4G connections, enabling you to sync your satnav with your phone and search for charging stations on the go.
Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander
Rated: Best SUV
For all its eco credentials, the concept of hybridisation doesn’t always sit well with the idea of a potent, all-conquering off-roader. The Mitsubishi Outlander changes that – in fact, it’s the only true hybrid-SUV on the market. With locking four-wheel drive it will handle snow and ice just fine, and when you’re on the tarmac, a 2018 power increase has made for a more competent all-round drive. Fuel economy and emissions are excellent as well, at 139mpg and 40g/km respectively. The looks may not thrill, but there’s a burly confidence to the Outlander that’s exactly what you look for from Mitsubishi.
Rated: Best all-rounder
If you’re looking for a hybrid that combines premium brand trim and prestige, enough space for a family holiday, the power to satisfy keen drivers and the economy to justify its hybrid status, this may be the car for you. BMW claims a top speed of 146mph and economy of 141.2mpg – mutually exclusive, of course, but it’ll cruise peerlessly on the motorway, and you can tell it to reserve some battery power (up to 29 miles’ worth) for urban driving. BMW also offers a wireless charging station for the home, which will fill the battery in three hours.