Best plug-in hybrids 2022
The plug-in hybrid market has grown exponentially in recent years. Here are our top 10 electrified favourites
If you're in the market for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), you're spoiled for choice these days. As more and more manufacturers add the option of this arguably eco-friendly drivetrain to their model lineups, there is a plug-in hybrid for just about every need. Whether you’re searching for an SUV, saloon, estate or hatchback, you can find almost anything.
There are lots of reasons to make the switch from internal-combustion-engined cars to hybrid, whether you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, take advantage of government incentives, lower tax rates, or just prefer the drive of a plug-in hybrid car.
The sheer variety of vehicles that now offer plug-in hybrid ability means there are PHEV options to suit buyers from a range of markets. It also means that buyers have a tougher time than ever choosing the best plug-in hybrid car for them. On this page we aim to help by explaining the market and delivering our verdicts on the best plug-in hybrids you can buy.
So which PHEVs do we recommend? With so many now on offer, we can bring you a top 10 of the best options, just scroll down to see our favourites.
Top 10 best plug-in hybrids to buy now
- Mercedes C 300 e
- Skoda Octavia iV
- Renault Captur E-Tech PHEV
- BMW X5 xDrive45e
- BMW 545e
- Mercedes E 300 e and E 300 de
- BMW 330e
- Volvo XC60 Recharge
- Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in
- Ford Kuga PHEV
1. Mercedes C 300 e
- Price: £44,895
- Range: 65-68 miles
- Economy and emissions: 403.6-470.8mpg/14-15g/km
- Rating: 4.5/5
The Mercedes C-Class is a great executive saloon that majors on comfort, refinement and sophistication. It might not be quite as sporty as some rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, but it feels more special inside. That's especially true for the PHEV, which is serene while being powered along by its 127bhp electric motor.
And to answer the naysayers who think plug-in hybrids don't go far enough on a charge, Mercedes has fitted a 25.4kWh battery – that's larger than the one in the original Nissan Leaf. It's enough juice to give the C 300 e an official EV range of more than 60 miles, making 40-50 miles of zero-emissions driving realistic in most conditions. Crucially, that's not only more than enough for most people's daily driving, but it can also take a good bite out of longer trips as well.
The electric motor is paired with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, offering 201bhp, for a combined total of 308bhp. It's reasonably brisk, getting from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, but the C 300 e only really feels sporty in a straight line. The engine is quiet when it kicks in though, and easily drowned out by the Burmester hi-fi.
2. Skoda Octavia iV
- Price: £28,400-£38,520
- Range: 34 miles
- Economy and emissions: 217.3-282.5mpg/22-30g/km
- Rating: 4/5
With more space than rivals, lots of thoughtful features and a comfortable interior, the Skoda Octavia is one of our favourite cars. For the first time, this generation is also available with plug-in power, courtesy of a powertrain familiar to Volkswagen Golf GTE owners.
A 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and small electric motor team up to produce 201bhp and 350Nm of torque. It's enough for a respectable 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds, but the Octavia iV's 34-mile EV range is the more important figure. This means the Skoda can slip four adults and all their luggage in and out of the city with virtually no tailpipe emissions.
Official figures are 282mpg and 22-33g/km of CO2, which are sure to appeal to company-car drivers on the hunt for low Benefit-in-Kind liability. Bills are around half those of an equivalent Octavia with a 1.5-litre petrol engine.
We found 30 miles is easy to achieve in all but freezing weather, and recharging the battery takes just over three hours using a wallbox. That should make it easy for most owners to start the day with a full EV range, or even top-up at work for the drive home.
3. Renault Captur E-Tech PHEV
- Price: £31,195-£32,695
- Range: 31 miles
- Economy and emissions: 188.3mpg/34-35g/km
- Rating: 3.5/5
The Captur is our favourite small SUV, thanks to its handsome looks, well-designed interior and plenty of space. In fact, despite being based on the Renault Clio, the Captur can seat four adults in comfort, with a clever sliding bench that can adjust boot space. Compromise slightly on knee room and boot space is among the best in class.
The E-Tech Plug-in is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, fed by a 9.8kWh battery. A combined 158bhp makes it the most potent Captur available, and official testing shows it can drive for up to 31 miles without the petrol engine chiming in. It's worth noting, however, that during our test in winter we could manage only 19 miles before a top-up.
That doesn't affect its low 34g/km CO2 figure, which makes this Captur a lot cheaper for business users to run than the petrol or diesel version. VED (road tax) is also at a slightly reduced rate, and with fuel consumption of up to 188.3mpg, trips to the filling station should be a lot less frequent.
Other selling points include a free set of charging cables, and a free BP Pulse home wallbox, which can charge the battery in around three hours. Renault models also come with a five-year warranty, as well as eight-year cover for the battery.
4. BMW X5 xDrive45e
- Price: £71,310
- Range: 51-54 miles
- Economy and emissions: 201.8-235.4mpg/27-31g/km
- Rating: 3/5
BMW’s large premium plug-in SUV is one of the most comfortable cars of its type. The supple suspension allows enough movement to keep it relaxed no matter what kind of road you’re on. Despite it being a large SUV, body roll is not really an issue. A great driving position and comfy seats both help, added to which the PHEV’s ultra-quiet running at low speeds makes it a very luxurious and refined car.
The X5 xDrive45e delivers its brief just as well as other X5s, if not better, and the other ace up its sleeve is its 54-mile claimed all-electric range. This makes it one of the most versatile PHEVs on sale, because in the real world it’ll still reliably be able to cover 30 miles on EV power, even in the depths of winter. In the summer months it should be possible to eke out 50 miles.
Thanks to the decent all-electric range on offer and claimed emissions of around 30g/km, the BMW X5 xDrive45e sits in the lowest Benefit-in-Kind company car tax bracket on the list, at just six per cent.
The 24kWh battery and electric motor are well integrated with the 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine. Performance is brisk with a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds, but it’s the comfort, range and refinement, plus the practicality here, that are so appealing.
5. BMW 545e xDrive
- Price: £57,965-£61,465
- Range: 29-34 miles
- Economy and emissions: 128.4-166.2mpg/39-51g/km
- Rating: 4.5/5
BMW already had a PHEV version of its excellent 5 Series, badged 530e, but the arrival of a six-cylinder petrol engine in its 545e xDrive plug-in makes for an even more impressive machine. Not only is it more powerful – with a combined 387bhp and 600Nm of torque – but the silky-smooth 3.0-litre petrol also makes the transition between electric and internal-combustion power seamless.
The 11.6kWh battery is a lot smaller than the C 300 e offers, but it's still enough to get the BMW 33 miles on electric power. It also boosts its fuel-efficiency figure to 166mpg and, critically for the executive class, cuts CO2 emissions to around 40g/km.
One advantage of a smaller battery is the weight saving, because unlike a lot of PHEVs, the 545e xDrive is still an impressive car from behind the wheel. It feels like a balanced, agile saloon, with carefully tuned damping to ensure excellent body control without an overly firm ride. There's even a tuneful growl from the engine under acceleration.
6. Mercedes E 300 e and E 300 de
- Price: £46,230-£58,290
- Range: 31-35 miles
- Economy and emissions: 176.6-217.3mpg/33-36g/km
- Rating: 4/5
Mercedes offer the E-Class as a plug-in hybrid with either petrol in the case of the E 300 e or diesel in the E 300 de. The latter of which is one of the very few diesel hybrids you can buy but it’s still a corker with up to a claimed 217.3mpg on offer - although real-world consumption will likely be less. The petrol E 300 e is pretty frugal too, with up to 188mpg available on the combined cycle.
The E 300 e isn’t as well-rounded as a BMW 530e when it comes to handling, although with 316bhp and 700Nm in the revised E 300 e, there’s plenty of power. Acceleration from 0-62mph is dealt with in 5.9 seconds and it’ll march on to a top speed of 155mph. The upside to the slightly inert handling is supreme ride quality. Its comfortable nature suits the hushed powertrain, making the E 300 e a fine long distance cruiser.
At around £50,000 the E 300 e doesn’t come cheap, but like most other hybrids on this list - you’ll soon start recouping that extra outlay if you can plug it in regularly.
7. BMW 330e
- Price: £41,330-£48,185
- Range: 34-37 miles
- Economy and emissions: 176.6-217.3mpg/30-38g/km
- Rating: 4.5/5
Since the BMW 3 Series is already a top choice among families and company car drivers, a plug-in hybrid version was always going to be a logical step. BMW intended to launch the current-generation car as a plug-in from the start, so the platform was developed with the powertrain in mind.
As a result, there’s little impact on passenger space, but boot capacity does shrink to 375 litres compared with the standard saloon’s 480 litres. If you need more space, it’s worth noting that, unlike the previous generation, the 330e is now also available in Touring estate guise for the first time.
Key to the BMW’s appeal is its excellent chassis. Sure, the PHEV powertrain adds extra weight, but the 3 Series still handles well and the ride is supple.
Company car buyers will enjoy low running costs, thanks to 37g/km emissions. BMW claims 36 miles is possible on electricity alone, and It takes five and a half hours to charge from a three-pin socket.
8. Volvo XC60 Recharge
- Price: £53,225-£64,480
- Range: 28-32 miles
- Economy and emissions: 100.9-282.1mpg/23-64g/km
- Rating: 4/5
If you want a premium SUV that can get you to work and back on EV power alone, then the XC60 Recharge is a fine choice. There are three versions available, R-Design, Inscription and Polestar Engineered.
The XC60 uses an 11.6kWh battery and has a charge speed of 3hrs 15mins at 3.7kW. It feeds an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, while the petrol engine drives the fronts. But as with all of the best PHEVs, there’s no noticeable transition as the power shifts around. The sporty 400bhp Polestar Engineered model will crack 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds thanks to a mix of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor.
The gearbox is smooth, keeping refinement at the heart of what makes the XC60 great. This is boosted by the luxurious and upmarket interior that’s very nearly as good as that of the much more expensive XC90, with all the tech to match.
Its 468-litre boot means practicality is a plus point. As with all new Volvos, the plug-ins are limited to 112mph for safety reasons, complimenting the excellent safety tech available in this family SUV.
9. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in
- Price: £30,450-£32,450
- Range: 39 miles
- Economy and emissions: 256.8mpg/26g/km
- Rating: 4/5
Hyundai’s Ioniq was aimed directly at the all-conquering Toyota Prius when it was launched and, with a new ‘Ioniq’ all-electric sub-brand coming, Hyundai’s PHEV underdog has certainly made a name for itself.
A claimed 256.8mpg will lure in lots of economy-conscious drivers but to achieve such numbers you’ll have to keep the 8.9kWh battery topped up. An all-electric range of 39 miles is five miles better than what you’ll get from a Prius and CO2 emissions stand at 26g/km, which also betters the Prius’ 29g/km.
A 443-litre boot should provide enough storage space for most families, and indeed many taxi drivers. Unlike many hybrid cars, the Ioniq can feel sluggish due to its 139bhp powertrain. The Ioniq was clearly designed for fuel efficiency over any sort of engaging drive and to that extent it adequately fills the brief.
10. Ford Kuga PHEV
- Price: £36,905-£39,305
- Range: 35 miles
- Economy and emissions: 201.8mpg/32g/km
- Rating: 3.5/5
The Kuga is a big seller for Ford, so it seemed appropriate that when the third-generation SUV arrived in 2019 that it should be the first model from the firm to benefit from a new plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Unlike some rivals, which use plug-in technology to add four-wheel drive, the Kuga PHEV is front-drive only. Thankfully, adding the system hasn’t affected versatility, because the plug-in retains the standard Kuga’s strong practicality and boot space. Run in electric mode and the Kuga is quiet and refined, but ask for a squirt of acceleration and the engine revs away, and remains there until you reach your desired speed.
Ford claims that 29 miles of electric-only running is possible, and the battery can be charged in three and a half hours from a 7kW wallbox. A Type 2 cable will cost an additional £195, though.
Should you buy a plug-in hybrid?
Plug-in hybrids are proving popular for a number of reasons. As technology improves and more car makers join the fray, the price you pay for a plug-in vehicle is gradually coming down. Then there are the tax implications, with many plug-ins offering lower VED road tax rates than their combustion counterparts. Benefit-in-Kind rates for company car users are also lower, thanks to low emissions.
A close second to the low running costs is the fact that this hybrid kit doesn't require you to compromise on the way you use your car. The key is to remember to plug the car into a charging point wherever possible to maximise the amount of electric running you do, but if you can’t charge the car just reverts to its internal-combustion engine. If you think of your car like a smartphone, and get into the habit of plugging it in overnight to charge, then you'll soon see the lower costs that electric driving can bring. Failing to keep the battery charged will likely see economy drop to potentially worse levels than an equivalent non-hybrid model.
If you’re thinking of making the switch to an all-electric car, then read our list of the best electric cars to buy.