16.12.2019Best plug-in hybrid cars 2020
Plug-in hybrids can offer drivers the best of both worlds - the benefits of electric driving for most of their trips, with the convenience of a petrol or diesel engine to extend their range on rarer longer journeys. Used correctly, huge savings can be made, and PHEVs suit a large number of drivers looking for a one-car solution to their needs.
Developments are seeing longer electric driving ranges making PHEVs more practical still, and increased choice from manufacturers means there’s plenty of choice available in a variety of markets. Premium and mass-market models feature PHEV options, as manufacturers look to electrify their fleet.
Below, Next Green Car has picked the ten best plug-in hybrid cars on sale in the UK, and it’s a list that is regularly evolving - so keep checking back for updates.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The best-selling plug-in car in the UK is a huge success story for Mitsubishi. Like pure-electric models, it’s regularly improved, now featuring a larger 2.4 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and longer electric range than ever before. Styling tweaks have sharpened the looks, whilst Mitsubishi keeps packing more kit in for improved value-for-money.
Hugely practical inside out - thanks to all-wheel drive - the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has an electric range of 28 miles, and a quoted fuel economy figure of 139 MPG. Unusually for PHEVs, charging is capable via CHAdeMO rapid chargers, or more commonly through the Type 1 inlet. A full charge will take around four hours using the latter on home or public points, or 20 minutes on a rapid charger for a 0-80% charge.
Read NGC's review of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV here, or click below to find out more.
The popular compact executive saloon seems tailor made for the benefits PHEV powertrains can bring, and BMW has maximised its potential. Now in its second-generation, the 330e has a longer range than before, with improved styling and more power. A range of 37 miles on electric power means BMW 330e drivers can cover a good distance with zero-tailpipe emissions, while the official fuel economy figure is 134 MPG.
Used well, the 330e can prove far cheaper to run than a conventional petrol or diesel version, and company car drivers in particular are being persuaded of the benefits in increasing numbers. Charging is carried out using the Type 2 inlet, and will take around three hours for a full charge on a home or public point.
Read NGC's review of the BMW 330e here, or click below to find out more.
Mercedes Benz E 300 de
Mercedes Benz’s smooth and refined E Class is available as a plug-in hybrid. In fact, it’s available as a choice of two, with either a petrol or diesel engine, and it is the latter selected here. Essentially, the E 300 de combines the high fuel efficiency and low emissions of the latest-generation of Mercedes’ diesel units, with the zero-tailpipe emissions possible from an electric powertrain.
It works too, with the E 300 e proving an accomplished long-distance cruiser, but equally adept at driving in traffic and covering shorter distances on electric power. Electric range is 31 miles on a charge, and fuel economy comes in at 166 MPG. To charge, the Type 2 inlet will top up the car’s battery in around two hours from a home of public point.
Read NGC's review of the Mercedes Benz E 300 de here, or click below to find out more.
Volvo XC60 TwinEngine
Volvo has embraced plug-in hybrids in a big way, and offers at least one option on every model on sale - and sometimes two. The system has now been refined and developed, with an excellent set-up available for buyers of electrified Volvos - including the XC60.
The XC60 TwinEngine uses a 2.0 litre petrol engine and 11.6 kWh battery / 65 kW electric motor combination found in other Volvo PHEVs, and offers a range of 29 miles on electric power alone - fuel economy is rated at 135 MPG. Charging is covered by the Type 2 inlet, with a full charge taking around three hours from a home or public charge point.
Read NGC's review of the Volvo XC60 TwinEngine here, or click below to find out more.
Mini Countryman Cooper S E
The popular Mini crossover is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and the combination works very well. Using a set-up shared with parent firm BMW, a 1.5 litre petrol engine works with a 7.6 kWh battery and 65 kW electric motor. It allows for an electric-only range of 26 miles on a charge and 118 MPG.
Featuring Mini’s distinctive styling inside and out, the Countryman is a car that works well as a practical family crossover. With good levels of interior and boot space on offer, the fun-to-drive Mini Countryman Cooper S E is charged using the Type 2 inlet, which will take around two hours for a full top-up from a home or public point.
Read NGC's review of the Mini Countryman Cooper S E here, or click below to find out more.
Kia Niro PHEV
Like Mini, Kia offers its useful compact family SUV in plug-in hybrid guise. The Niro PHEV has been updated to bring it closer in line with the pure-electric e-Niro, which includes a few styling tweaks and improved equipment inside.
Using a 1.6 litre petrol engine, the Niro PHEV also features an 8.9 kWh battery with 44.5 kW electric motor for an electric driving range of 36 miles and 202 MPG. Charging is carried out using the Type 2 inlet, which will take around three hours for a full charge on public points or at home.
Read NGC's review of the Kia Niro PHEV here, or click below to find out more.
Toyota Prius Plug-In
Although the Prius is famous for being a conventional hybrid, a PHEV version is also available - and it's better than its more familiar namesake. A very good electric-only range makes for an efficient car, with economy figures to match. The Prius Plug-In will cover 39 miles on electric power, and return 283 MPG.
The Prius drives better in electric mode than as a hybrid, which encourages drivers to recharge where possible. Considering the lengthy electric range, it’s quite possible to cover the majority of trips without the engine kicking in at all. Charging is carried out using the Type 2 inlet, with a charge taking around three hours on a home or public charger.
Read NGC's review of the Toyota Prius Plug-In here, or click below to find out more.
VW Passat GTE
The Volkswagen Passat is a very good practical car, available as either saloon or estate. In either specification, it looks good and works beautifully throughout. The same is true of the GTE version, which uses VW’s plug-in hybrid system to good effect.
A range of 36 miles is possible in the latest Passat GTE line-up, thanks to a 13 kWh battery powering an 85 kW electric motor. Support comes from the 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine for an figure of 217 MPG. Charging is Type 2 and will take around four hours to recharge from a dedicated EV charge point.
Read NGC's review of the VW Passat GTE here, or click below to find out more.
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid
Whilst PHEV systems can produce excellent efficiency scores, they tend to also offer up some of the most powerful options in a model’s range. This is true of Porsche, which provides E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid powertrains in a range of specifications, and in both hatch and Sport Turismo estate. In fact, the E-Hybrid versions are the flagships in the range.
Able to cover 32 miles on electric power, the great benefit of this set-up is that the Panamera can be driven as an electric vehicle for large periods of time, aiding a fuel economy figure of 113 MPG. It will whisper around town with zero-tailpipe emissions, before setting everything loose on open roads. Charging will take around two hours to top up the 14.1 kWh battery with the optional faster on-board charger, powering a 100 kW electric motor that's backed either by a V6 or V8 petrol engine.
Read NGC's review of the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid here, or click below to find out more.
Range Rover P400e
Above we’ve seen electric power boost economy and performance, but it can also improve refinement. With virtually no noise coming from an electric motor compared to engines, the PHEV system found in the Range Rover makes one of the most luxurious cars around even better.
Combining a 13.1 kWh battery and 85 kW electric motor with a 2.0 litre petrol engine, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport P400e PHEVs can cover around 31 miles on electric power alone, and return 101 MPG. To recharge, the Type 2 inlet allows a top up in two hours from a dedicated home or public charge point.
Read NGC's review of the Range Rover P400e here, or click below to find out more.
Best plug-in hybrid cars 2020
There are a large number of excellent PHEVs on the market at the moment, and we couldn't fit them all on this list, preferring instead to highlight the top 10. Different needs and preferences could well see buyers prefer an alternative PHEV from those listed above though, so we have decided to give an honourable mention to other models worthy of consideration.
Manufacturers are bringing out increasing numbers of PHEVs, often adding them to existing model ranges to improve options for drivers. Volvo is particularly noteworthy in offering PHEV variants across it's entire line-up, while BMW and Audi have extensive PHEV options across a number of core models.
They are by no means alone in making PHEVs, with a huge number of manufacturers - both mass-market and premium - building plug-in hybrids from family hatchbacks to large SUVs - and everything in between.
For those who want to see what other PHEVs are available, click on NGC's PHEV Search below for a complete list. It's worth taking a look at our buying guide too which explains in greater detail the positives and negatives of EV ownership and what to look out for, to make sure a plug-in car is the best choice for you.