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Top 10 hybrid cars on the market

Hybrid cars are a bridge between the present petrol and the future of electric vehicles, but how good are they?

Top Ten Hybrids & Plugin Hybrids

Hybrids are, occasionally, derided by the pure-battery brigade as yesterday’s technology, but that’s simply not true - aside from being impressive cars in their own right, the latest crop of hybrids are an important bridge between our petrol present, and our Faraday future…

1. Toyota Corolla: €25,380

Toyota has become truly the hybrid champ with an all-but entirely hybrid lineup on sale. The new Corolla is the best of the bunch, managing to combine sharp styling, enthusiastic chassis responses, and genuinely excellent real-world economy from its hybrid powertrain. No plugin version as yet, but that’s more than likely on the cards.

2. BMW 530e: €51,000

As with all plugin-hybrids, BMW claims some dramatic fuel economy figures for the 530e which you’ll never match in real life (140mpg? Come on…) but if you make proper use of its plugin abilities, you can slide around town for up to 40km on just the batteries, and still score circa-45mpg on the open road. Think of it as an alternative to the 530d, rather than a hyper-frugal electric car.

Kia's quietly-styled crossover manages the neat trick of being one of the best plugin hybrids around

3. Lexus ES300h: €49,450

Lexus has championed the hybrid cause for almost as long as Toyota, and that experience really shows with the new ES. The switch to front-wheel drive hasn’t done it any favours as a drivers’ machine, but the 2.5-litre petrol-and-batteries combo is exceptionally refined, frugal, and truly relaxing to drive. Exceptional quality levels too (but you could save yourself €10,000 and buy the new Toyota Camry).


4. Kia Niro Plugin Hybrid: €31,495

Kia’s quietly-styled crossover manages the neat trick of being one of the best plugin hybrids around. It’s roomy enough to be useful to a growing family (albeit the boot is a little smaller than the old non-plugin version) and relaxing to drive on a long journey. You’ll get up to 50km on a full charge on just the batteries, and it can still manage better than 60mpg on long motorway runs.

You can have a hybrid sports car with Porsche-like performance

5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: €39,900

The first widely available plugin hybrid has been given a series of updates to keep it fresh, and last year it gained a new 2.4-litre petrol engine and an updated electric motor and battery pack. The upshot is a car that works really well when you’re making maximum possible use of its electric range, but which becomes rather too thirsty if you’re taking it on long, main-road journeys. Top spec versions do come with lovely quilted leather seats, and it’s a properly rugged 4x4 if that helps.

6. Toyota C-HR: €27,170

Toyota’s small crossover is a little too small at times – the back seats are rather tight, and the rising windowline cuts off the view out, while the boot is pretty tiny – but it makes up for that with style. It looks dramatic enough on the outside, but the cabin is its best part, looking more like the lobby of a boutique hotel. It’s exceptionally well made too, and good fun to drive. 1.8-litre hybrid system is shared with the Prius and Corolla.

7. BMW i8: €142,950

Yes, you can have a hybrid sports car with Porsche-like performance, Lamborghini-like doors, and yet CO2 emissions of just 42g per km. It uses a three-cylinder turbo petrol engine from a Mini Cooper, adds a battery and tow electric motors, and kicks all kinds of ass with both its styling and its performance. Not cheap, but a heck of a statement.

8. Honda CR-V Hybrid: €38,000

Honda’s new CR-V Hybrid uses a clever system that does away with a conventional gearbox, or a Toyota-style CVT, and instead drives the wheels with the electric motor, drawing on the 2.0-litre petrol engine when needed. The result is smooth, frugal, and massively spacious. Plus, being a Honda, it’ll never break…

9. Ford Mondeo Hybrid: €35,795

Ford’s first European hybrid treads a conventional path – take a 2.0-litre petrol engine, add batteries and a small electric motor, and watch the fleet car sales roll in – but it’s quite a satisfying one. The Mondeo’s conventionality might draw customers who’d be put off by the wild styling of a Prius, and it’s smooth and engaging to drive. Handsome too, and quite well priced.

10. Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine: €64,650

Volvo is going all-in on plugin hybrids lately, and the results are impressive, especially in power terms. The T8 XC60 is the most powerful car in Volvo’s mid-size SUV lineup, boasting a combined 400hp from its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor, and it can sprint to 100km/h in just 5.5secs. Official Co2 figures of 48g per km are impressive, but you’ll struggle to beat 40mpg in daily driving unless you’re plugging in a lot.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring