Buying a hybrid car for the UK roads is no longer the taboo subject it once was. Many people, including the owners, consider these vehicles to be the best of both worlds. The main advantage of hybrids is of course their two-engine drive, as they obtain their power both by means of a traditional internal combustion engine and an electric motor. As a result, owning a hybrid gives the unique ability to enjoy an eco-friendly commute when in the city and an extensive range in the countryside, whenever needed.
Those on the lookout for one are lucky because when it comes to hybrid cars, the UK is a market full of excellent options. These include self-charging hybrid electric cars (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEVs), which can be charged from a wall socket or at the station. Currently, there are over half a million hybrid vehicles registered in the UK. And that number is growing fast.
The best plug-in and self-charging hybrid cars in the UK
Volkswagen Passat Variant GTE
The new Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE is great for everyday needs and one of the best hybrid family cars out there. It combines a zero-emission 116 horsepower electric powertrain and a 1.4-litre 156 horsepower TSI engine to offer magnificent performance: up to 100 mpg, 33 miles on the electric engine and 0 to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds.
On top of that, the new Passat Estate GTE boasts a high-quality interior with lots of space for four and up to five passengers. It is also easy and fun to drive. On the downside, Volkswagen is famous for their high prices, and the new Passat Estate GTE is hardly an exception.
Toyota Prius has been the symbol of hybrid cars since 1997. The fourth generation, which is available now, offers a decent pair of engines. The 1,8-litre petrol with 100 horsepower and an electric motor with 72 horsepower offer a maximum of 122 horses when combined. The outcome is an exceptional 50 mpg fuel consumption, and the only downside of the powertrain is that it takes 13 seconds to get from 0 to 62 mph.
When it comes to prices, the self-charging Toyota Prius is among the most cheapest hybrid cars around. And it offers great value for money, too. For £25,000, you won't get another spacious, comfortable, safe and reliable HEV. A plug-in hybrid version of this vehicle is also available, though it costs over £7,000 more.
Honda Jazz is a simple hybrid hatchback that doesn't look like much. After all, it's just a typical minicar (at the surface). Combining a 1,5-litre, 109-horsepower petrol engine and a 30-horsepower electric motor, Jazz is hardly a street racer. However, in the case of this hybrid, there's more than meets the eye. It excels in fuel economy, presenting the driver with an excellent, proven range of 63 mpg. Also, being a Honda, it is very reliable. It's simply one of the best value hybrid cars available on the UK market at the moment.
And with a price tag of just over £19.000 for the basic version, it really boasts a lot of features. One thing you have to remember, though, is that Honda Jazz is a city car, i.e. not much space inside. That includes the boot, which is even smaller than in the regular petrol version.
Land Rover Defender P400e
One of the most quintessentially British car brands of all time also happens to make the best PHEV on the UK market. It has everything you might want from a vehicle: history, design, on and off-road performance, as well as comfort that is second to none. Now, with the iconic Land Rover Defender P400e, you can also enjoy being more eco-friendly and visit petrol stations less often.
Be it a daily commute in London or fording a river in the countryside, you can rely on the 2.0-litre, 300-horsepower petrol engine supplemented by a 105-horsepower electric motor to get the job done. The P400e goes from 0 to 62 miles in 6,7 seconds, has a fuel economy of 85 mpg and can travel up to 27 miles on the battery alone. Before you get too excited, however, we should remind you that to own this plug-in hybrid, you'll first have to cough up at least £40,000.
Volvo V90 Recharge T6
If you like travelling in style but are also concerned with the ecology and safety of motor cars, you should definitely consider a Volvo V90 Recharge T6. It's a vehicle that is as much of a statement about your style as it is a means of communication. Perfected to the last detail inside and out, it offers impressive performance on the road along with that legendary Swedish safety.
Its powertrain is a 2.0-litre, 250-horsepower petrol engine coupled with an 85-horsepower electric motor. That dynamic duo allows for a 0 to 62 miles acceleration of 5,9 seconds, while the battery lets you drive up to 38 miles in the discreet and comfortable electric mode. On top of that, it's a plug-in hybrid, meaning you can recharge even with a simple wall socket. The prices of this Scandinavian premium car start at £43,000.
Hybrid cars are on the rise
Many of us want to go green but still don't trust fully electric vehicles, often finding their range and scarcity of charging stations disappointing. And this is precisely where both self-charging and plug-in hybrids excel. Combining an internal combustion engine with a battery-powered motor, they marry range and performance in an eco-friendly package – an embodiment of a win-win scenario.