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Best Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Cars

| In Car Reviews

With the environment in mind, many car-buyers are looking at eco-friendlier options when considering their next car purchase. There are more and more options coming on to the market as manufacturers turn their attention to the growing demand and global necessity to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. With a wealth of options, the choice is also becoming more complex as new technologies emerge and compete for your green pound.

Best Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. They offer a number of benefits including very low or non-existent road tax, great fuel economy and a smooth electrical ride. Hybrids combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. There are various types of hybrid technology used by carmakers. 

The Toyota Yaris uses an electric motor to aid the traditional engine – supplying greater power when necessary and recovering energy from braking when it’s not. But what really makes the Yaris one of the top hybrid cars out there is the claim that it can be driven in pure electric mode for around 80% of the time while on urban journeys, and up to speeds of 80mph before the petrol engine will kick in. The generous equipment on the standard model certainly helps: adaptive cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, multi-function leather-trimmed steering wheel, reversing camera, amongst other features.

The BMW i3 Range Extender is another top contender for one of the best hybrid cars out there: it uses the combustion engine as a generator to charge batteries which then power the car’s electric motor. Unlike the Toyotas above, the petrol engine does not supply power to the wheels. This provides the benefits of an electric car but limits the range issues that are inherent with some Electric Vehicles (EVs).

The Renault Captur is yet another great hybrid car, standing out in the small SUV market thanks to its PHEV featuring a 158bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 9.8kWh battery and automatic gearbox. Standard tech doesn’t disappoint: seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, auto-folding side and full LED lights are some of the goodies you can be prepared for. 

Hybrid Cars Economy

Hybrid vehicles offer incredible economy figures – the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV claims over 140mpg, though these tests are run over a very short distance which greatly benefits hybrid cars’ performance figures. Buyers may be disappointed when their vehicle fails to deliver 140mpg on a long drive with actual performance below 40mpg. However, a plug-in hybrid that generally only travels distances of 20-30 miles may go weeks without using any fuel at all, being maintained by mains charging each night.

Hybrid cars are ideal for those people who do most of their motoring in town, where the most can be made of regenerative braking and the limited range. Some hybrids are exempt from the congestion charge, making them very popular amongst Londoners. Drivers who do lots of long-distance journeys are likely to be best served by a traditional diesel for now, as they offer superior economy on longer drives. That being said, the majority of automotive manufacturers revealed they are working on extending the range and economy of EV and hybrid cars.

Best Electric Vehicles

Bloomberg analysts state that if 35% of global new car sales were EVs (as predicted by 2040), it would result in cutting global oil consumption by 14%. The Committee on Climate also stated that the UK needs 60% of new cars and vans to be electric by 2030 to meet our 2050 climate-change targets. So which are the best EVs to help meet these goals.

It's been almost 20 years since Toyota first introduced the Prius, and since then Tesla has been getting more and more attention in the EV market. Initially, the price points of the Tesla Model X made it prohibitive for most people, but since then a lot has changed and Tesla made an effort to make alternative more affordable models. Volkswagen hasn’t slowed down either: announcing their plan to launch 30 EV models by 2035 and Zipcar, the car-sharing club, also introduced 50 Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid vehicles around London. Ecotricity has invested in a network of charging points, whilst Tesla has its own network of Superchargers, with more EV charging points popping up every day. 

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is on our list of best electric vehicles, as it should, given that it was the first mainstream electric car to be sold in the UK. It has quirky styling and a futuristic, hi-tech interior which perhaps is only now surpassed by the BMW i3. It has a good range of 124 miles. It takes eight hours to recharge using a conventional 3-pin plug. It has great boot space at 370 litres and plenty of room for four passengers. It has a good pace from a standing start and is virtually silent when on the move.

Ford Focus Electric

The Ford Focus Electric hatchback is a lot more fun to drive than the Nissan Leaf and thus earns their title of one of the best EVs available: It’s Ford’s first purely electric production model and has a range of 100 miles on a full charge. The car’s batteries eat into the boot space and also affect the car’s handling. There are purpose-built rivals such as the BMW i3 and Renault Zoe that have better range and handling.

Kia Soul EV

The Kia Soul EV is very roomy on the inside, offers passengers plenty of headroom and a more upmarket feel than many of its rivals. The ride comfort is good and smooth but the steering can be a little light leaving you feeling disconnected from the drive. But it does drive well with a good grip and minimal lean for a taller car.

Renault Twizy

The Renault Twizy hatch-back is a real head-turner. It has space for only two people with one sitting behind the other. It has thin bars instead of full doors and looks like a moon-buggy! It’s not really suitable for driving in all weathers and you’ll need the same warm waterproof clothing as a motorbike rider. It’s great fun to drive and takes three hours from a three-pin plug, giving you enough power for between 30 and 50 miles.

Citroen C-Zero

The Citroen C-Zero microcar is short and narrow which is great for city streets and parking. It’s fundamentally the same as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Peugeot iOn. It has a good driving position for visibility with a large windscreen. The electric motor makes it snappy off the mark and there’s no gear change required with its automatic transmission.

Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe is one of the cheaper EVs on the market despite the monthly rental charge for batteries. It’s slightly larger than the Renault Clio, on which it is based, and has a good-sized boot at 338 litres. It is virtually silent when running and very easy to drive as an automatic. Stopping can be a little jerky due to the regenerative braking system. It has a short range of 100 miles but Renault throws in a free-home-charger to charge the car faster than a standard socket.

Volkswagen e-Golf

There are only a few subtle changes between the Volkswagen e-Golf and the normal Volkswagen Golf, which makes the e-Golf one of the most exciting and undoubtedly best electric vehicles out there. It looks familiar on the inside too and most people would not realise that it’s solely powered by electricity. It’s quick off the mark and almost feels exactly the same as the conventional vehicle to drive. Passenger space remains unchanged from a regular Golf but boot space is reduced slightly from 380 litres to 341 litres. The range is perhaps the main drawback, clocking in at only 115 miles, which somehow seems a little meagre for a Golf.

There you have it: our list of best EVs and top hybrid cars in the market. With the prospects of heavier taxes on emissions, a growing network of charge points for electric cars and the technology becoming more affordable, we can expect to see many more electric cars on the road in future.