Whether you’re looking to maximise fuel efficiency or just want a quieter and smoother drive, there are many benefits to leasing a hybrid car.
Bridging the gap between a conventionally fuelled car and a fully electric car, hybrid vehicles offer an appealing blend of efficiency, range, power and low emissions, making them a popular lease choice with motorists up and down the UK.
But with more hybrid cars on sale today than ever before, what are the best hybrid cars in the UK and which hybrid vehicle is right for you?
To help make choosing your next hybrid car easier, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has compiled a list of the top 10 hybrid cars on the market in 2021.
The hybrids featured in this article include:
A hybrid car is a partly electrified vehicle that blends an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) to power the vehicle.
Typically, the electric motor powers the car at lower speeds in a hybrid, and the fuel engine powers it at higher speeds.
You can learn more about hybrid cars in our benefits of a hybrid car guide, including the advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid vehicle.
There are three types of hybrid cars available in the UK: full hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and mild-hybrids (MHEV).
A full hybrid combines an electric motor and a battery pack with a conventional gasoline engine.
Like a plug-in hybrid vehicle, a full hybrid can travel short distances on electric power alone, making it ideal for drivers who tend to drive at slower speeds, such as in busy cities.
A full hybrid also does not need to be plugged into a power source like an electric or PHEV vehicle, as it uses regenerative braking to recharge its battery whilst on the move.
A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) works similarly - it combines a battery and electric motor to support the work of a petrol or diesel engine.
In a PHEV, the battery is bigger, which allows the vehicle to drive much further on electric power alone.
However, as the name suggests, you must plug a PHEV into a power source to charge the battery.
A mild hybrid is similar to PHEV in that both cars combine a battery and an electric motor to support the work of a petrol or diesel engine. Yet, with a mild hybrid vehicle, the electric motor is only used to help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.
Unlike a full hybrid or PHEV, a mild hybrid car cannot drive under electric power alone.
For everything you need to know about leasing a hybrid vehicle, check out our benefits of a hybrid car guide.
Below is a list of ten of the best hybrid cars on the market in 2021 based on their style, driving range, CO2 emissions and real-life practicality.
With a 1.4-litre petrol engine, compact electric motor and the same mechanics as the Audi A3 e-tron, the Volkswagen Golf GTE is a plug-in hybrid version of the popular Golf family car.
To maximise every type of driving environment, you can choose one of four driving modes in the Golf GTE – pure electric, hybrid, GTE and ‘battery charge’. The latter acts like a generator, charging the battery to give you the option of running in pure electric mode without plugging the car in.
As is the case with any plug-in hybrid, you’ll need somewhere to regularly charge the GTE to reap the benefits from its batteries and electric motor. Still, the battery will only take three to four hours to charge from a domestic three-pin socket.
Volkswagen claims the Golf GTE has a maximum pure electric range of 31-miles with an instrument panel behind the steering wheel displaying the battery range and power source for driver convenience.
In regards to practicality, the petrol tank reduces the boot space to 272-litres, and because the batteries are stored underneath the seats, you can’t drop the rear seats completely flat.
Still, the Golf GTE boasts a spacious and practical cabin with big and small passengers, enjoying an all-round comfortable experience.
Combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and a battery pack, the Honda Jazz delivers optimum power and fuel economy, making it one of the best small hybrid cars on the market and an attractive choice for drivers of all ages.
The Jazz is classed as a full hybrid. Using Honda’s advanced e:HEV hybrid technology, there’s no need to plug the Jazz in to charge up. It drives like an EV around town thanks to its near-silent motor but can easily pick up the pace when required, the petrol engine kicking in at higher speeds.
The Jazz has three driving modes: EV mode, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive.
EV mode runs the car solely on electric power and typically is used when moving off from a standstill or travelling at low speed.
Hybrid Drive sees the petrol engine and electric motor work together for optimum power and economy.
Engine Drive mode is best for high-speed cruising when the petrol engine is at its most efficient.
But what makes the Honda Jazz truly stand out is its interior, offering plenty of space for both driver and passengers.
Its minimalist interior with the two-spoke steering wheel, a new 7-inch digital driver display, and a 9-inch CONNECT touchscreen help make driving easier and more enjoyable than ever before.
In terms of practicality, the Jazz also boasts space for even tall passengers to sit in comfort without worrying about knee or legroom. Its 304-litre boot can also be expanded to a 1,205-litres, with the rear seats folded, making for extra room when required.
Next up is the Mercedes-Benz E Class Saloon E300de, a worthy alternative to its sister petrol-electric E300e.
As expected from Mercedes-Benz, premium expertise is at the heart of the E300de, both in mechanics and interior design.
Under the bonnet, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel-electric engine is paired with a 13.5-kWh lithium battery to produce an impressive 191-bhp, 400-Nm of torque and a 34-mile pure electric range.
Thanks to its neat charging socket integrated into the rear bumper, the E300 de is a doddle to plug in and charge. A full charge from a 7.4-kW power source will take 1.25-hours or five hours via a three-pin household plug.
The E300de also matches the E300e’s Benefit-in-kind (BIK) company car tax, but the long-distance cruising strengths of a diesel make it a popular choice with business users.
Practicality isn’t bad either, with room enough for four adults to travel long distances and a strong focus on comfort with high-quality materials throughout.
The only design flaw is the raised boot floor which restricts the items you can load and offload, but even then, there is enough space for a couple of decent-sized suitcases and an overnight bag.
Designed to fit into everyday family life seamlessly, the MINI Cooper Countryman PHEV is not only desirable but economical too.
Powered by an automatic, three-cylinder petrol engine with an 86-bhp electric motor, MINI claims the Countryman PHEV has a pure electric range of 26-miles. As such, the Countryman PHEV is ideal for short urban commutes in stop-start traffic where you can utilise the electric motor by charging overnight or at work.
Driving wise, the Countryman PHEV is unsurprisingly quietest when running in electric or combined mode, and front visibility is good. The instant boost from the electric motor gives it a surprising turn of speed, especially around town.
The handling is pretty agile, too, making the Countryman one of the most fun PHEVs you can get your hands on.
As the battery pack does take up some room in the back, storage space is limited, but the wide body allows for a roomy cabin and the high roof and low seating mean the Countryman boasts enough room for even the tallest of adults.
There are rear parking sensors as standard, and the 6.5-inch infotainment system – complete with sat-nav – is controlled by a rotary dial, ensuring easy navigation.
Plus, Isofix child seat mountings also come as standard, so even the smallest members of your family can enjoy this MINI.
If you’re in the market for a luxury saloon with plenty of kit as standard and surprisingly low running costs, look no further than the BMW 5 Series Saloon 530e.
Offering near to silent motoring, the 5 Series 530e combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to produce an impressive 248-bhp with CO2 emissions of just 46g/km.
With a full charge, the 5 Series 530e boasts a 29-mile electric range with the battery taking less than five hours to charge from a domestic plug socket and under three hours from a home fitted, 3.7-kW i Wallbox or a public fast charger. To ensure maximum comfort, there are also three driving modes – Max eDrive, EV and hybrid eDrive.
Inside, the 5 Series 530e boasts the quality expected from a BMW – from the dashboard display to the generous storage space. There’s 410-litres of flat floor boot space to ensure loading and unloading is super easy.
The 530e also has a 5* NCAP safety rating for your absolute peace of mind, so you can rest assured that you and your family are in safe hands.
Combining performance and driving pleasure with efficiency and impressive interior and cargo space, the Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid is one of the best hybrid plug-in cars on the market. No wonder it was named What Car? ‘Car of the Year 2019 Plug-in Hybrid’.
Featuring a robust XC90 T8 twin-engine, XC90 T8 PHEV offers three driving modes - pure, hybrid and power - to make the most of this high-performance luxury SUV.
The XC90 can travel up to 75mph in electric-only mode, taking just four hours to charge fully. For many people, a fully charged battery will get them to work fuel-free and exhaust emissions-free.
Despite being a hybrid vehicle, cabin space in the Volvo XC90 hasn’t been sacrificed for the electric battery. This is great for big families, tall adults or those who need a lot of load space.
The boot space is impressive, even when all seven seats are in use, let alone when the third-row seats are down. Plus, there’s underfloor storage too.
Visibility is excellent thanks to the large windows, and for even more driver convenience, there are front and rear parking sensors as standard.
If the XC90 doesn’t take your fancy, the Range Rover Sport P400e HSE is certainly worth a look.
With a 2.0-litre petrol engine, 30-mile electric range, and CO2 emissions of 69-g/km, this PHEV is in a calibre of its own. It may be more expensive than other suggestions on our list, but its running costs are exceptionally low.
Thanks to the fusion of a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 105kW motor, the P400e has an amazing 404 bhp. It’ll take seven hours for a full charge with a 3kW charger, but if you want the freedom to use public chargers, you’ll have to buy the charging accessory cable.
However, thanks to regenerative braking, the electric range can be extended by over 10% under the right conditions.
Inside, the P400e’s cabin is as beautiful as ever, with plenty of space in the back for both adults and children. Its commanding view of the road extends to those in the rear, who are treated with the same high-quality materials as those riding up front.
Unfortunately, PHEV buyers aren’t offered the third row of seats available elsewhere in the Sport range.
No ‘best hybrid’ list would be complete without the Toyota Prius. Developed over two decades ago, the Prius is ahead of the times and is still redefining what it means to be a hybrid today.
The latest model was also named 2019 ‘Car of The Year’, a gold winner at the Auto Express Driver Power Award proving that Toyota still have the edge in this increasingly competitive market.
Combining a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, the Toyota Prius is arguably the best self-charging hybrid car on the market, meaning you don’t need to plug it in to take advantage of its electric power. When its electric motor’s battery is sufficiently charged, the Prius can drive up to 36mph on electric power alone.
Now in its fourth generation, the Prius promises enough interior space for most families. It is also packed to the brim with driver convenience and safety features – from a reversing camera, lane departure alert with steering control and road sign assist to a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and Toyota Safety Sense.
What more could you possibly want?
Next up is another award winner – the Hyundai Ioniq. Recently named 2019 What Car? Car of the Year, the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid delivers everything you expect from a conventional car, but with all the environmental and economic benefits that come with electrified driving.
Designed with a specially calibrated 1.6-litre GDi internal combustion engine to deliver an impressive 105-PS, the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid is exceptionally efficient.
The 42-PS electric motor, focusing on high torque and high efficiency, provides superb acceleration and adds extra power at higher road speeds.
Even more noteworthy, it has a 0.24-coefficient drag, 78.5-MPG fuel consumption and 1.5-kWh battery capacity, delivering CO2 emissions of 84-g/km.
Inside, the IONIQ is as roomy as a traditional family hatchback and has a bigger boot than a Prius. All models also have a 7.0in digital instrument cluster for all the information you need at your fingertips.
Sitting below the Sportage in Kia’s crossover line-up is the all-new Kia Niro – the first Kia hybrid available in the UK. This self-charging, small SUV hybrid vehicle incorporates a petrol engine and electric battery for improved fuel efficiency without compromising on style or substance.
Designed for growing families, the Niro is one of the best family hybrid cars available to lease in the UK.
The battery in the Niro has been cleverly designed to fit underneath the back seat, so no space is lost in the boot or back seats. There’s a lot of handy storage options throughout the cabin.
Thanks to the decent suspension, it is also a comfortable ride and quiet when at low speeds.
You’ll be pleased to know visibility is good, there’s a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, plus you can take full advantage of the colour touchscreen infotainment system.
It’s complete with Kia’s Connected Services that includes traffic updates and speed camera warnings and Bluetooth connectivity, and a DAB radio.