A full hybrid, such as the Prius, is able to operate using a combination of power from the electric motor and the engine, to deliver the best efficiency for a given situation.
The more expensive plug-in hybrids sit somewhere closer to a full electric car. They can be charged at home or from a charging station. They will typically have larger batteries and further range in electric-only mode than a regular hybrid.
Fuel efficiency figures for these vehicles can be a grey area. Manufacturers are stating three-figure MPGs when, in real world use, this drops to less than half that figure.
Despite this, hybrids are ideal for short commutes and stop-start driving in cities. If you’re able to charge a plug-in hybrid from home, you can considerably reduce your fuel bills.
Here are five to consider for all budgets
There’s no questioning the CR-Z is a great looking car, with lines reminiscent of the revered 80s CR-X. It looked as if Honda had made a sporty hybrid that would attract a new audience to greener cars. It’s lamentable then that the CR-Z wasn’t quite up to the task. The modest 112-BHP petrol engine and 14-BHP electric motor were not enough to set pulses racing.
That said, the CR-Z is still a nice drive. The low seats and aesthetically pleasing cabin is a comfortably place to be. Although the rear seats are very cramped and should only be considered for shopping bags.
Find your CR-Z from £6,000 on Carsnip.com
The first small hatchback offered by Lexus, the CT200h is a very well equipped car. The 1.8-petrol engine is the same you will find in the Toyota Prius. Mated to a continuously variable transmission, it offers very smooth, quiet driving around town. On open roads the ride is coarse, with a disconnected feeling. As a result of the hybrid drive train, the engine revs often don’t match the car’s speed as you would expect in a conventional car.
For the money, the CT200h is an upmarket Prius that is best suited to stop-start city driving. When driven hard, it shows unexpected cracks in the Lexus brand.
Find your CT200h from £10,000 on Carsnip.com
No list of hybrid cars would be complete without the venerable Prius. First introduced in 1997, the Prius has been the poster child for green cars ever since. Despite its naysayers, over 5 million have been sold worldwide. A popular choice with Uber drivers, the tried and tested powertrain has seen many of these cars achieve odometer readings over 300,000 miles. Since 2012, it has also been available as a plug-in hybrid.
Inside, they’re a solid family car with good rear leg room. The engine noise under load will put off some and the rear visibility suffers because of the spoiler placement. Altogether, the Prius is a very easy car to live with.
Find your Prius from £2,000 on Carsnip.com
This re-badged Chevrolet Volt is Vauxhall’s first plug-in hybrid. Launched in 2012 in the UK, it won European Car of the Year. With a capable all-electric range, the Ampera can be used on a daily work commute without ever using fuel.
The cabin is nicely trimmed and well-equipped with one major downside; There is no middle seat in the rear due to the battery placement in a central tunnel. UK sales have been low which might be due to consumers not wishing to part with £30K for a Vauxhall, which is a pity, because it’s an excellent car.
Find your Ampera from £13,000 on Carsnip.com
With the plug-in hyrbid Golf arriving in 2015, Volkswagen are behind their competitors in offering a hybrid. Despite being late, the Golf doesn’t disappoint. The quickest here, the GTI DNA is definitely running through the GTE.
However, the GTE really needs to be mains-charged to make the most of its economy advantages. With a depleted battery, relying on the petrol engine will see MPG figures in the low 40s. The GTE, unlike the other hybrids here, has comparable petrol and diesel versions. The excellent Bluemotion Golfs regrettably outshine the GTE on long distance economy and will lead some to question the wisdom of the substantially more expensive hyrbid.
Find your Golf GTE from £30,000 on Carsnip.com
For outright miles per gallon, these hybrids can be beaten by super efficient diesels. Be that as it may, the harmful particulate emissions from diesels are being called into question. The prospect of diesels being banned from major UK cities in 2020 is now on the horizon.
When choosing a hybrid, it’s important to consider the advised battery life. Replacing it on an older vehicle can be cost prohibitive. For popular models like the Prius, aftermarket refurbished batteries may be available. Servicing and repair costs can be higher too. Complex powertrains can necessitate visiting the main dealer, instead of a local garage.