Best hybrid cars on sale in 2016

Lexus IS 300h - front cornering
5 Jan, 2016 4:45pm Steve Walker

We round-up the best new hybrid cars currently on sale in the UK

Hybrids are becoming more and more popular in the UK. They seem to offer myriad benefits such as low or non-existent road tax, barely-believable fuel economy and smooth, electrically-boosted running, without any of the downsides. Look closely though and all is not as it seems - but the same can be said for most cars, and for many people a hybrid can make a great deal of sense.

So what exactly is a hybrid? Put simply, it's a car that combines a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor to pull itself along. The way it does this can vary, though. Some cars, like the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, simply use the electric motor to aid the traditional engine - giving greater power when it's needed and recovering energy from braking when it's not.

Others, like the Toyota Prius go one step further and allow electric-only running for short periods around town. These cars may be available as a plug-in hybrid - like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - which means larger batteries can be charged from the mains to allow 20 or 30 miles of electric-only running.

The final kind, like the BMW i3 Range Extender, use the combustion engine as a generator to charge batteries which then power the electric motor. Unlike other hybrids, the petrol engine never powers the wheels. This gives the benefits of an electric car but limits the range anxiety you could feel in a Nissan Leaf, for example.

Many hybrids will boast huge economy figures - the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV claims over 140mpg - but take these with a pinch of salt as they're obtained by a flawed system. Official economy tests run over very short distances, which benefit hybrid cars immensely, but does mean that buyers may be disappointed when they take their supposed 140mpg car on a long run and see economy on the wrong side of 40mpg. On the other side of this, though, a plug-in hybrid buyer who rarely travels more than 20 or 30 miles may go weeks without using any fuel at all and simply charging the car at the mains each night.

The ideal hybrid buyer will do most of their mileage in town, where they can make the most of regenerative braking and electric range. Some hybrids are exempt from London's congestion charge, making them popular choices among those who live in the capital. Those who do lots of long-distance journeys would be best served by a traditional diesel, as these offer superior economy on longer cruises.

With all this in mind, here's our round-up of the best hybrids on sale today...

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2016

These are our top ten best hybrid cars on sale now. Click the tabs on the top left of this page to find out about more about each model...

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