The best hybrid cars of 2020 - the pick of plug-in and series hybrid models in the UK
Our choice of the top hybrid options for those not ready for pure electric
2020 seems to be the year when many manufacturers are throwing their weight behind electric cars.
Many major brands have one or more pure electric vehicles coming out this year and there are plenty more in the pipeline.
While the idea of emissions-free motoring sounds great, pure electric still isn’t right for everybody, which is why the market is also packed with hybrid models ranging from the mildest of mild hybrids to plug-in hybrids that offer 50+ miles of electric-only range.
If you’re not sure which alternatively fuelled option is right for you then read our guide here. But if you’ve decided hybrid is the way forward, here are 10 of the best on the market right now.
The Prius is the granddaddy of hybrids and the car that did more than any other to bring the concept to the wider world. It’s now in its fourth generation and its technology has moved on a lot since 1997. The newest model, which shares its drivetrain with several other Toyotas, now packs a 1.8-litre petrol engine and 53kW electric motor. The regular hybrid offers 60mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km but the plug-in option drops emissions to 29g/km and ups claimed economy to around 200mpg. It’s still a slightly odd looking thing but beneath the skin is a spacious family car back by Toyota’s reliability and unrivalled hybrid knowledge.
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
The XC90 T8 is Volvo’s flagship model. A massive, luxurious seven-seat SUV, it epitomises everything the brand has got right in recent years with its elegant styling, comfortable interior and impressive practicality. Its diesel engines are the biggest letdown so the T8 fixes that by pairing a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a 65kW electric motor to provide more than 390bhp via its four-wheel-drive system. That means hot hatch-like acceleration if you’re feeling frivolous but claimed economy of 113mpg if you’re frugal, with an all-electric range of 21 miles.
Hyundai has been smart with the Ioniq. Instead of choosing which type of alternative fuel systems you want and then picking the car, with Hyundai you pick the car then decide which drivetrain you want. Whether your choice is serial hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full electric, the Ioniq has you covered. Both hybrids use a 1.6-litre petrol engine, the PHEV gets a slightly more powerful electric motor and substantially larger battery but offers the same 139bhp. On top of the powertrain is a four-door family hatchback to rival the Prius, but at a lower price.
The Prius’s better looking younger sibling. The Corolla isn’t quite as big as the Prius but it’s better to look at, better to drive and comes in a choice of hatchback, saloon or estate forms. There’s no plug-in option but there are two hybrid choices. The same 120bhp 1.8 petrol/electric setup as the Prius is joined by a more sporting-oriented 2.0-litre option with 181bhp, which packs a surprisingly pleasing punch. Both offer economy of more than 50mpg and sub 130g/km emissions.
BMW’s evergreen compact saloon has moved with the times so along with a variety of petrol and diesel engines, the 330e offers a plug-in hybrid. It’s good for 249bhp (289 when there’s enough charge for the XtraBoost function) claimed economy of up to 201mpg and up to 35 miles of zero-emissions motoring. If the 3 Series isn’t quite big enough, the 530e uses the same drivetrain but offers a step up in size and price.
Like the Hyundai Ioniq, Kia’s Niro crossover comes in pure EV form as well as “self-charging” hybrid and plug-in hybrid derivatives. Pitched somewhere between a regular hatchback and the Sportage SUV, it’s a practical and family-friendly option offering up to 201mpg and CO2 emissions of just 31g/km in PHEV form.
Skoda Superb iV
A new model for 2020, the iV takes everything that’s great about the Superb and adds a clean, tax-friendly hybrid drivetrain. The car in hatchback or estate form is spacious, comfortable, well-equipped and keenly priced. In hybrid form its 1.4-litre engine and 85kW motor offer 215bhp, an all-electric range of 35 miles and almost 600 miles on a full tank and charge.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
The smaller relation to the XC90 T8, the XC40 Recharge adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain to Volvo’s classy compact SUV. The T5 Recharge features a 262hp petrol/electric setup good for up to 139mpg and CO2 as low as 47g/km. Just as important, the multi-award-winning XC40 is comfortable, refined and good to drive.
A rival to the XC90, the RX450h is a large premium SUV from a brand with more than 20 years’ experience in hybrids. In the UK the RX only comes as a hybrid, featuring a 3.5-litre petrol engine and 50kW motor good for a total of 308bhp. It’s not quite as big or as flashy as the Volvo but the Lexus is a paragon of refinement and easygoing wafting and there’s an ‘L’ seven-seat version if you need it.
Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid
The Panamera 4S E-Hybrid really does feel like the best of all worlds. It has the space and quality of a luxury saloon, the pace of a supercar and the ride and handling associated with the Porsche badge. A twin-turbo V6 and electric motor combine for 552bhp, 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds but offer up to 33 miles of all-electric range and CO2 emissions of just 51g/km from the big four-seater.