The Best Hybrid Cars in 2016

The Best Hybrid Cars in 2016

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Not too many years ago choosing a new car was a relatively simple matter. Car manufacturers offered small, medium or large models and occasionally a “sports” car. How things have changed. Today’s car buyers are confronted with a vast array of different choices from city cars to SUVs and crossovers with an equally bewildering choice of engines. Long gone are the days when diesel engines were only used by taxi drivers and company reps or electric propulsion limited to milk floats.

Although many people may miss the simplicity of the cars of yesteryear, there is no denying that, in terms of efficiency, some of the latest offerings are in a completely different league. Nowhere is this more evident than in the relatively new “hybrid” classification. In automotive terms, the word “hybrid” has no hard and fast definition and different manufacturers have taken different approaches but generally speaking, a hybrid car makes use of two different power sources in order to increase efficiency. When looking for a new car or economical personal lease cars, buyers invariably consider running costs and emission levels both for financial and ethical reasons and those wishing to minimise any environmental or ecological damage may well wish to consider the green credentials of the hybrids. Many manufacturers now offer hybrid models but there are substantial important differences between the cars on offer and the prospective buyer needs to know exactly what “hybrid” means in each case.

The main types of hybrid cars are:

  • Those powered by conventional internal combustion engines but with additional power available when needed from electric motors. Such cars may be capable of very short electric power only journeys typically of just a mile or two.

  • The plug-in hybrids are fitted with substantial batteries and, as the name implies, these are recharged at home. Such cars are capable of being used purely as electric vehicles for longer journeys, typically around twenty or thirty miles. At other times, the main petrol or diesel engine will be used with additional electric power as required.

  • The third less common type is the “range-extender”. This in practice is an electric vehicle and the small internal combustion engine’s only function is to charge the car’s batteries as required. This provides all of the advantages of using an electric car but without the fear factor of being stranded.

Many hybrid cars are currently on offer but the following are some of the best:

  1. Toyota Prius – Toyota have championed the hybrid cause for many years and the Prius hybrid is the world top seller offering excellent economy coupled with good performance with a combined power of 132 bhp. CVT transmission is standard ensuring that the available power is always used to best advantage.

  2. Toyota Yaris – The Yaris is already a favourite city car but in hybrid guise it is even more economical. It has a 1.5 litre petrol engine plus electric assistance and a fully automatic CVT gearbox as standard.

  3. BMW i3 Range-extender The baby BM is also available as a purely electric vehicle but the addition of a small 650 cc two cylinder petrol engine adds to its versatility and filling its 9 litre fuel tank gives it a range of 186 miles. The little engine’s only function is to cut in and charge the batteries when needed. With a lightweight carbon fibre reinforced body, performance is good with 0 – 62 mph taking just 7.9 seconds.

  4. Mitsubishi Outlander -The popularity of SUVs shows no signs of waning but the major drawbacks have always been the high running costs associated with “Chelsea Tractors”. The Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid has changed that and now offers a large very versatile vehicle with small car running costs. It was the first plug-in hybrid offered for sale in the UK and with an electric range of around 32 miles, should prove ideal for a fuel-free school run. With a total combined power of 204 bhp and CO2 emissions of just 44g/km this car ticks a lot of boxes.

  5. Lexus IS 300h – Lexus have chosen to follow the hybrid route and this compact executive car has a 2.5 litre petrol engine plus electric motors. This car has the advantage of always using electric power whenever possible.

  6. Lexus RX 450h – This was the first luxury hybrid 4×4 to be offered for sale in the UK. With a total of 295 bhp on offer from its 3.5 litre V6 engine and two electric motors, there is of plenty of power but fuel economy is some way behind that of many hybrids.

  7. Mercedes C300 BlueTEC Hybrid – This has all of the features of the standard C Class diesel but provides better performance and lower emissions. Having a diesel engine, this car should be ideal where high mileages are covered.

  8. Mercedes S300 Hybrid – Mercedes have included a hybrid version of the S Class confirming that fuel-miserly technology is not just limited to small “eco-box” types of car.

  9. Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid – Even the mighty Porsche Cayenne now comes with green credentials and, for those lucky enough to have the company car option of this model, it now makes sound financial sense.

  10. Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid – No one is suggesting that this is a budget buy but the hybrid version does provide some tax advantages for the business user. With its 3.0 litre V6 engine plus electric power, there are no compromises in performance and fuel-free all electric journeys of around 22 miles are also possible.

Lower budget buyers can consider a used green car, autoexpress produced a round up of some of the best here.

Buying any car involves much more than looking at columns of figures. In most cases, the real-life fuel economy of a car bears little similarity to the official manufacturers’ figures which are obtained under strictly controlled conditions. The true cost of owning any car includes many hidden factors such as depreciation rates and interest charges and hybrid cars are still regarded with some suspicion in the second-hand market but for those choosing an eco-friendly lifestyle, the vast choice of hybrid cars now available means that the option of going green is no longer exclusively reserved for tree-hugging hippies. Absolutely anyone can do it. The wearing flowers in one’s hair, as always, remains optional!

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