Best hybrids 2021

Rory White

01 Oct 2021

If you aren't quite ready to go fully electric with your next new car, why not consider going hybrid instead? Here we explain the different types and which are the best on sale.

Before we get into the list, let us explain the difference between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid car.

A standard hybrid (usually) has a petrol engine, battery and electric motor. You don't plug it in, the engine charges the battery as you drive and periods of electric-only driving are possible, although they're often short and mainly at lower speeds.

A plug-in hybrid has either a petrol or diesel engine, plus a battery and electric motor. However, as its name suggests, you can plug it in. Because its battery is usually bigger, it can drive for much longer periods on just electricity and at higher speeds.

A mild-hybrid car is a bit of a marketing exercise, really. It can't drive on electricity alone, but instead has clever tech onboard that'll help the engine out with electric assistance at low speeds to make it more fuel-efficient.

For the purposes of this list, we'll be including hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. Here are the top 10 best options.

1. BMW 330e

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The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid version of the superb BMW 3 Series in either saloon or Touring estate form. You get a 41-mile electric range, which will cover most peoples' commutes, plus there's the same great drive of the standard 3 Series. OK, so a BMW X3 SUV might be more practical for those with a growing family, but most will find the 3 Series fine inside, plus it comes with one of the best infotainment systems on sale.

2. Toyota Corolla

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The Toyota Corolla is a hybrid, so you don't plug it in, but a battery and electric motor work with the engine to provide lower-speed electric driving and all combined, very agreeable fuel economy figures. The Corolla also looks great, is comfy yet fun to drive and is spacious inside. Its infotainment system is average, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard.

3. Skoda Superb iV

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The Skoda Superb is a simply massive car for the money and the same goes for this plug-in hybrid iV model. There's the same cavernous passenger space, and although the Superb iV's boot is slightly smaller than the standard car's, it's still huge by any standard. Its 35 miles of electric range is nothing special given its size, but will have you covered for most day-to-day journeys.

4. Volvo XC60 T6

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The Volvo XC60 is Volvo's best-selling model for good reason, and the plug-in hybrid versions make up 25% of XC60 sales too. There's a T6 and T8 to choose from, but both have the same battery that'll do 32 miles on electricity. The lesser T6 STILL has easily enough power, so it's our pick. Plus, whichever you choose you'll get Volvo's classy cabin and comfortable drive.

5. Kia Sorento PHEV

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Few hybrid offer so much bang for your buck as the Kia Sorento PHEV. It's a plug-in hybrid, so will run for up to 45 miles on electricity alone in town or 35 miles in mixed driving, which is impressive. It's also huge inside, with seating for seven and acres of space for everybody onboard. The best bit is the price – despite its modern styling and large dimensions it costs thousands less than its competition, yet now rivals them for quality inside.

6. Volkswagen Golf GTE

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There are now three different ways to have your sporty VW Golf, petrol, diesel, or this plug-in hybrid GTE. The latter combines punchy power with the ability to drive on pure electric too, for up to 40 miles. You also get VW's superb build quality inside, plus all the usual Golf space and practicality. It's not quite as fun in corners as the best warm hatches, but it's by no means a bad effort.

7. Ford S-Max FHEV

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MPVs are a dying breed, but the Ford S-Max is one of the best you can buy. It looks great, is the best driving MPV on sale and has a spacious and versatile cabin that's great for a family. Ford has now added non-plug-in petrol-electric hybrid power, too, which means around 55mpg in the real world and periods of electric driving at low speeds.

8. Honda Jazz

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The Honda Jazz is a great little Hybrid. We say little – inside it's huge for a small car and has handy features like folding and flip-up rear seats. It's great to drive around town where 60mpg is easily achievable and comes stacked with equipment. There's also a faux SUV Crosstar model if you fancy all that's great about the standard Jazz but with chunkier styling.

9. Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e

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If you need genuine off-road ability, but also like the idea of hybrid technology, then the Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e has to be on your list. Being a Land Rover, it has been designed from the ground up to be brilliant on the rough stuff, plus it seats seven people and has a high-quality interior.

The P300e pairs a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a battery and electric motor to deliver great performance. It'll also go for up to 34 miles on electricity alone and takes seven hours to charge using a home three-pin plug, or two hours using a home wallbox. The P300e can also charge up to 50kW, though, which drops that time to 30 minutes.

10. Kia Niro

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Like the Hyundai Ioniq, the Kia Niro is available in pure-electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid forms. We love the electric e-Niro but here we'd recommend the plug-in hybrid model with its 35-mile electric range. It's spacious, well equipped and good to drive, just like the other Niros. Just be aware its interior and infotainment are starting to feel a little old next to some newer models.

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Rory White

01 Oct 2021