They’re lean, green and a few are even mean! Here are seven great hybrids and three all-lekkie cars you can buy – right now!
Nobody does small cars like Suzuki and the new Ignis is a welcome breath of fresh air in a cluttered city car segment. Distinctive ‘mini-me’ crossover styling, deceptively spacious interior and a very likeable drive make this latest Suzuki urbanite a certain winner. The ‘Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki’ (SHVS) mild hybrid system is so good, that aside from a little energy flow graphic in the instrument cluster, you’ll never know it was there. CO2 emissions are just 97g/km and 65.7mpg should be achievable. The top-spec SZ5 model has all the toys, too! * Price: £13,000.
The KIA Niro combines a practical, family-oriented crossover body style with an efficient hi-tech hybrid system. What impressed most is the simple and unobtrusive way that the Niro makes hybrid motoring feel so ‘normal’. Its conventional body shape, un-flashy styling, efficient 1.6-litre petrol engine and dual-clutch automatic gearbox all combine to make it feel more contemporary from behind the wheel than many rivals. Entry-level models offer 74mpg and CO2 emissions of 88g/km. The KIA Niro is quiet, quite refined and decent to drive, plus it comes with KIA’s industry-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. * Price range: £21,295 – £24,695.
Lexus CT 200h
Lexus no longer offers diesel powered cars. The luxury arm of Toyota has long advocated the merits of hybrids over diesels and the CT 200h is the starter model in its current UK range. The interior is solidly built using high-quality materials, but the ride isn’t quite as comfortable as the Lexus badge infers. One thing the CT does deliver, however, is low running costs. It’s claimed to be capable of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of only 82g/km. It also sits in an impressively low 15% BiK company-car tax bracket, making it sorely tempting for company-car drivers. * Priced from £22,495.
Volkswagen Golf GTE
The plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTE makes good sense. It combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor and home-charged batteries. VW says this means a maximum electric-only range of about 31 miles and a claimed 166mpg. In reality, you’re unlikely to see anywhere near those numbers in everyday driving, but official CO2 emissions are a remarkable 35g/km. Its handling is dulled by heavy batteries and performance is fair rather than brisk. But it’s refined and comfortable on the motorway, feeling just like a normal Golf most of the time. * From £33,995 (GTE 1.4 PHEV 5dr DSG).
BMW i3 REx
There are two versions of the i3 – a fully electric vehicle with a range of between 80 and 125 miles and this range-extending (REx) hybrid, which offers a range of around 210 miles. It deploys a small petrol engine that operates an on-board electricity generator to top up the underfloor batteries, rather than power the wheels. The car’s CO2 emissions are a mere 13g/km, residual values are strong and the BMW i3 REx won’t cost you much to run. It has distinctive looks, is good fun to drive and is full of clever features. * From £32,590.
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The Audi A3 Sportback ‘e-tron’ plug-in hybrid uses pretty much the same system found in the Volkswagen Golf GTE, with a combined total of 201bhp from its 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor. Official figures suggest you should get around 30 miles of electric-only driving, which means the A3 e-tron is rated at 176mpg with CO2 emissions of 37g/km. The combined power units are certainly effective, offering near hot-hatch levels of performance, but the relatively high purchase price (even with the £2,500 Government grant taken away) could put some people off. * From £35,930.
Hyundai Ioniq hybrid
The Ioniq is Hyundai’s triple-whammy; this is the first car to be available to order as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a fully electric vehicle. Here, we look at the impressive hybrid, returning around 83mpg, with CO2 emissions of 79g/km. It is powered by a 104bhp, 1.6-litre petrol engine and paired with a 43bhp electric motor. Attractively priced, the Ioniq hybrid is pretty good to drive, too, with the gearbox being a particular highlight. Inside, it feels much like a latter-day Hyundai which is no bad thing, is well equipped and a good bit cheaper than its Toyota Prius rival. * From £19,995.
All-electric cars are getting better and better in very quick time, which led me to avoid the usual – and proven – suspects from Nissan and Renault and offer up three worthy EV alternatives…
Yorkshire-themed jokes aside, I’m a big fan of the e-UP, the all-electric version of the VW UP city car. Unlike many cars in this segment, it can seat four in quite good comfort. It’s also enjoyable and easy to drive and park. Its 90-mile range is on the short side, but may be sufficient for most urbanites. You can charge it from your domestic electricity supply and top it up at public charging points during the day, too. However, the price of the e-UP is its Achilles heel and may inhibit many from taking a punt on this worthy EV contender. * From £25,280.
KIA Soul EV
The KIA Soul EV represents the South Korean brand’s first foray into the UK electric car market and, while the standard car has been around a few years now, the youthfully designed Soul still holds appeal. Its boxy exterior shape makes it very spacious inside and headroom is particularly generous, but batteries take up much of the boot space, which is a below par 281 litres. With its claimed range of 132 miles between charges, the Soul makes for an enjoyable zero-emissions urban runabout. * Priced from £25,495.
Tesla Model X
Tesla’s new Model X SUV attracts buyers who might previously have chosen a premium SUV such as a Mercedes GLS or Range Rover. It’s a quick, great-looking car with loads of space in the back and the option of seating for seven – and those rear falcon wing doors are a hoot! Range distances vary from 259 to 336 miles, according to variant. In the P100D version, you can enjoy supercar performance with 62mph arriving in just 2.9 seconds, when in the gloriously named ‘Ludicrous Mode’. Fancy deadlining a Ferrari 488 GTB from the lights? * Priced from £80,400 to £129,200.