RAC Cars News


The best hybrid cars

By raccars Published

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Are you convinced that electrification and hybrid cars are the future of automotive technology?

The rise of electric and hybrid cars is beginning to look inevitable. Industry experts believe that only with some form of electric assistance will cars be able to meet ever stricter emissions regulations and manufacturers seem to agree.

To date, government subsidies and the need to reduce company car tax liabilities and avoid the congestion charge have been major motivational tools to convince the public to buy electric. As a result, the range of hybrids and electric cars available is fast increasing and the technology to improve them is moving at the speed of light. The result? They look and behave far more like conventional cars.

Modern hybrid cars

If low running costs or an environmental conscience have convinced you to go electric, what are your best choices in this rapidly expanding market?

BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport

SUVs are an excellent choice for manufacturers when it comes to installing electrification technology, thanks to their traditional gas guzzling image and because their extra size and weight makes it far easier to engineer in the electric motors and batteries without compromising driving dynamics. The X5 40e hybrid can apparently manage 85.6mpg and with 77g/km in CO2 emissions is only just outside the cut-off point for congestion charge exemption - that's amazing for a car of this size and performance.

It can also travel up to 19 miles using electric power only. It costs from £56,705 but is exempt from VED and could save a company car driver £2,711 annually in benefit in kind tax compared with the diesel powered 40d version of the same car.

Toyota Prius

It was always derided for its clumsy looks and clean, green, sandal-wearing image but the Toyota Prius, now in its fourth generation, has matured nicely. The hybrid claims 94.1mpg under the right circumstances and is congestion charge and VED free when using 15 inch wheels. However, CO2 emissions go up to 77g/km with 17 inch wheels which makes it eligible for the congestion charge. The latest Prius is smarter and feels more solidly put together than previous models, and no longer screams 'hybrid car'. Prices start at £23,295.

BMW i3

Available as a purely electric car or in range extender format, the technologically advanced i3 is compact and rather expensive but drives very well and handles beautifully. The electric only model claims a range of up to 100 miles so is best saved for city life. But with zero emissions it is incredibly cheap to own. 13g/km in CO2 emissions means the range extender is VED and congestion charge free. It is available from £30,980.

Renault Zoe

With the quick, smooth acceleration typical of a pure EV, the stylish Renault Zoe is surprisingly good to drive. There's no traditional gearbox either so you just choose forward or reverse and off you go. It's quite affordable too at £13,945 plus battery hire at £70 per month and can cover about 100 miles on a full charge. So while it's not ideal for a salesperson who's on the road all day, it's great for nipping around the city.

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