Self-charging and plug-in hybrids: how do they work?

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

What is a self-charging hybrid? It’s a term that’s had a lot more airtime recently from many car manufacturers, including Toyota and Kia. Also, how do these cars differ from plug-in hybrids? Wonder no more…

What’s the difference between plug-in and self-charging hybrids?

It’s no coincidence that the term ‘self-charging’ gained traction as plug-in hybrids started to proliferate. The distinction is quite obvious when you compare them. A self-charging hybrid is one you can’t plug in to charge the batteries separately. Instead, on-board systems top up the batteries as you drive, via energy recovery during braking, solar panels and the combustion engine itself. 

A plug-in hybrid is more complex. While the engine and recovery systems do feed into the batteries, there is the added option of literally plugging in. In urban environments, if you can charge overnight or at work, you may find yourself never using the combustion engine. If you don’t bother to charge a PHEV, it’ll run like a regular hybrid. In other words, it’ll self-charge only.

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Then again, if you never use the petrol engine, what’s the point in having it? Isn’t it just dead weight? That’s the debate.

In reality, PHEVs are a baby-step towards electric motoring rather than the giant leap to a full EV (and the associated reliance on range and infrastructure). A PHEV allows you electric car life in the city and normal car life beyond, without worrying about where the next charging point is.

Have hybrid cars always been self-charging?

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Yes, they have. If it’s not a plug-in hybrid, it’s a self-charging hybrid. The term is half-marketing, half-distinction. It separates ‘normal’ hybrids from plug-ins without demoting them as such. 

What you mustn’t assume is that the car is self-charging in the sense that it will pick up juice overnight. The charging only comes when you operate the vehicle.

Hybrids: things to remember

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Firstly, you can’t plug in a self-charging hybrid. And yes, self-charging is just another way of saying ‘hybrid’ that keeps it distinct from the plug-in models.

Both types are at their best at low speeds rather than long-distance high-speed driving. Plug-ins merely offer the option of juicing up at a standstill.

Oh, and one more thing: neither type of hybrid is eligible for the government’s electric car grant any more.

Jaguar I-Pace

Most Brits will wait almost 10 YEARS before buying an electric car

Jaguar I-PaceThe emphasis on the transition to alternative fuel vehicles is intense. With diesel all but circling the drain, and talk of the 2040 combustion engine ban in the air, we all have to ask ourselves when we’ll take the leap into an electric car.

For many of us, that moment isn’t going to arrive any time soon.

That’s according to research conducted by Auto Trader. It found that drivers say they plan to wait an average of nine years before buying an electric car.

The research also discovered that motorists fall on both sides of the fence as to whether that 2040 ban is a good thing. While 20 percent were undecided, the remainder of the sample was evenly split in favour and against.

However, shockingly, nearly three quarters were not aware of the government assistance packages for buyers of electric cars and hybrids, such as the money-saving Plug-in Car Grant.

As for the recently-released Road to Zero report, over a third think it’s unrealistic to expect 50 percent of new cars sold to be electric by 2030.

The perceived price premiums, and what is seen as the inadequacy of the charging infrastructure, are why only one in four drivers would consider an EV or a hybrid for their next car.


So what’s needed to convert buyers? In short, awareness, education, incentive and reassurance. We need to know what’s available, know that it’s viable and have good reasons to buy over what we’re used to.

The UK’s charging infrastrucutre needs to be improved, and confusing electric car terminology eliminated. 

“There’s no doubt that electric vehicles are the future,” said Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.

“However, our research indicates that there are still significant barriers to adoption, with greater investment in infrastructure and technology needed.

“It’s also crucial that car manufacturers and the government alike ensure that language to describe electric cars is clear and accessible, rather than laden with technological jargon that consumers may find alienating.”

Read more: 

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Charging ahead: plug-in hybrid car sales leap by a third

Toyota Prius Plug-In

If you bought a new car last month, you were one of a 168,898 people that helped fortify this July’s stronger-looking sales figures. That number represents a 1.2 percent increase in cars sold versus July 2017.

While sales to businesses with fleets of 25 cars or less were down by a fairly hefty 10.2 percent, those to larger fleets were up 2.6 percent, with sales to private buyers just edging up by 0.1 percent.

We’re buying different types of cars, too. Diesel-engined vehicles continue to fall – by 24.4 percent – with petrol rising by 20.1 percent and alternative-fuel vehicles enjoying a rise in popularity of 21 percent.

Plug-in hybrids enjoyed a year-on-year leap in popularity of 33.5 percent – yes, a whole third. Hybrid registrations grew by 17.5 percent, while pure electric cars are yet to boom in full, with a comparatively small increase in popularity of 2.4 percent. Watch this space.

While still being 5.5 percent down year-to-date, the car market is on its way to being back on track, and is performing in accordance with expectations.

Ford Fiesta

As for the most popular buys, the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf retain their respective first and second places, while the Volkswagen Polo enjoyed a particularly fruitful July as the third best-seller. The Mini, meanwhile, may be the seventh best-seller of the year so far, but it didn’t even place in the top 10 for July new car sales.

“The feel-good factor from a sun and sport-packed July, combined with some fantastic deals on a raft of exciting new models, clearly helped keep showrooms relatively busy last month,” said Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“It’s great to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this growth, and government’s acknowledgement of the vital role new-tech diesel will play in its Road to Zero strategy should help more even more motorists benefit from the latest, safest and low emission technology over the coming months.


The BTCC is going hybrid in 2022


With rule changes on the horizon starting from 2020, how racers in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) are going to look, sound and go is beginning to take shape. The latest and most dramatic development is that they will be hybridised from the start of the 2022 season.

That’s right… series organiser TOCA has confirmed that the BTCC, one of the more down-to-earth motorsport series, is looking at electrification, joining the upper echelons of WEC, Formula 1 and obviously, Formula E.

That’s not to say that the cars themselves will change very much. The implementation of the technology should be on a base spec level. That means every car will get a standard power unit to complement the internal combustion engine. How and when that power unit is used to boost the cars throughout the race will become a part of each team’s race strategy.


Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, outlined the extent of the changes to the current cars: “Different to hybrid development within the likes of Formula 1, this certainly shouldn’t – and won’t – be an ‘extreme’ technical exercise, but rather will be one which we will introduce within our NGTC technical regulations relatively seamlessly and very cost-effectively.

“Just as importantly, by incorporating hybrid it keeps the BTCC absolutely relevant to manufacturers, sponsors and the public… with the added benefit of further enhancing our great racing.

Watch a Volvo ESTATE race in the BTCC!

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“Drivers will have a given reserve of additional hybrid power to use during each race, which will provide an extra element of race-craft and excitement to the fantastically close and entertaining racing that is the hallmark of the BTCC.”

While this general outline is good to go, the minutiae of the technical specifications is still to be decided, with the BTCC Technical Working Group (TWG) set to go over the detailed engineering over the course of the next 12-18 months. Some of the current cars should have such systems engineered in during 2020 and beyond for testing purposes, ahead of the full grid going hybrid from 2022.

How hybridisation will effect manufacturer perceptions of and involvement in the sport will be interesting to see…

Read more:

Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is making a comeback – as a hybrid

Toyota CamryToyota withdrew the U.S.-focused Camry from the UK market almost a decade and a half ago, through lack of interest. Now, the model is making a surprise return in 2019 – newly reinvented as a fuel-efficient hybrid.

The Camry is the world’s best-selling saloon and has been a hit in North America for years, but struggled in the UK because it was seen as too dull and not very fuel-efficient.

But the latest eighth-generation design has solved the former grumble by reinvigorating the Camry, and now Toyota’s ticking the fuel-efficiency box by installing its latest all-new 2.5-litre hybrid-electric powertrain.

The new Camry Hybrid effectively replaces the Avensis, for which interest has itself faded in recent years. The UK plant in Derby has now stopped building the large saloon and estate range as it gears up to start making the all-new Auris.

Toyota is thus to maintain its place in the large executive saloon sector with the Camry, which will be built on the acclaimed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform which underpins models such as the well-received C-HR (and, indeed, the new Auris).

Bosses are promising segment-leading quality, reliability, quiet running and “superb ride quality”. The driver will enjoy a wraparound dashboard and the rear seats will be enormous. The suspension will also be tuned for the European market, to improve handling.

The relaunch of the Camry in Europe will further bolster the already heady sales of the current car: Toyota’s sold 19 million of them since launch in 1982, and currently makes more than 700,000 of them every single year – that’s almost 20 percent of the entire UK new car market!

Prices, performance, equipment and economy will all be announced nearer to the Camry’s on-sale date in 2019. 

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

‘Alternative-fuel vehicles’ – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric – accounted for just over five percent of car sales in February 2018. That’s according to JATO Dynamics, which collates car registration figures for 27 European markets. Here, we reveal the top five best-sellers in each of those three eco-friendly categories. These are Europe’s best-selling hybrid and electric cars

Hybrid no.5 – Kia Niro

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

We start with conventional hybrids: those where on-board batteries are charged solely by an internal combustion engine (i.e. they can’t be plugged in). In fifth place is the Kia Niro, finishing ahead of its Hyundai Ioniq stablemate with 1,853 sales. It’s the only non-Toyota in the top five.

Hybrid no.4 – Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Toyota has majored on hybrids ever since the first Prius was launched in 1997. Interestingly, though, the car many people associate with ‘going green’ is not inside the European top five. It’s outsold by the fourth-placed RAV4 Hybrid for starters, which found 3,326 new owners in February.

Hybrid no.3 – Toyota Auris Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Our next Toyota is the Auris Hybrid. This dull-but-worthy car offers the same petrol/electric drivetrain as the Prius, but packaged in a more conventional hatchback body. There’s also a practical Touring Sports estate. Sales of 4,408 put the Auris in third place.

Hybrid no.2 – Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Fashionable crossover it may be, but the C-HR’s slash-cut styling certainly divides opinion. Still, unconventional looks are no barrier to success in this sector – as proved by the Nissan Juke and the C-HR’s strong standing here. It finishes second, with 5,436 sales.

Hybrid no.1 – Toyota Yaris Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

So the number one hybrid in Europe is – you guessed it – a Toyota. The Yaris Hybrid is the smallest and most efficient car in the top five, with official figures of 85.6mpg and 75g/km. It’s also reliable and easy to drive – particularly in town, where a ‘B’ mode for the automatic gearbox boosts regenerative braking for one-pedal driving.

Plug-in hybrid no.5 – Volkswagen Golf GTE

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

We move on to plug-in hybrids, starting with the fifth-placed Volkswagen Golf GTE. Cars in this class usually boast incredible – and not entirely realistic – CO2 emissions figures, due to the fact they complete much of the official NEDC test on electric power alone. The sporty Golf GTE, for example, emits just 40g/km. A total of 665 were sold in February.

Plug-in hybrid no.4 – BMW 225xe iPerformance Active Tourer

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

‘BMW 225xe iPerformance Active Tourer’ is a bit of a mouthful, and you wouldn’t call this front-wheel-drive MPV attractive. However, its strengths lie elsewhere, with a versatile interior and 46g/km CO2 emissions (meaning low company car tax and VED). It’s Europe’s fourth most popular PHEV, with 692 sold.

Plug-in hybrid no.3 – Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Mitsubishi sells diesel and plug-in petrol/electric versions of its Outlander SUV for the same price. Result: the PHEV is hugely more popular, regularly topping the charts as the UK’s most popular plug-in. In Europe overall, it finishes third, shifting 924 units in April. A updated Outlander arrives soon, promising more power and improved economy.

Plug-in hybrid no.2 – Volvo XC60 T8

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

How about this for the best of both worlds? The T8 ‘twin engine’ XC60 has a combined output of 407hp with an official CO2 figure of 49g/km. It’s also stylish, spacious and very comfortable. What’s not to like? Well, perhaps a nigh-on £60,000 price tag, although that didn’t stop 976 T8s finding buyers around Europe.

Plug-in hybrid no.1 – Volkswagen Passat GTE

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The Passat GTE takes the number one spot, with 1,034 sales – comfortably more than its cheaper Golf sibling. Like the Golf, it’s a performance-oriented hybrid, using its 9.9kWh lithium-ion battery for extra oomph as well as cutting fuel use. The 0-62mph dash takes a swift 7.4 seconds, with CO2 emissions of 39g/km (in theory, at least).

Electric car no.5 – Smart Fortwo EQ

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Our third and final top five, also based on Jato Dynamics data, is for fully electric cars (EVs). Times are changing, but many EVs are still small cars designed primarily for city use. The Smart Fortwo EQ is typical of the breed: a two-seat runabout with an 80mph top speed and a 96-mile range. A total of 741 were sold.

Electric car no.4 – BMW i3

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

When BMW launched its eco-focused ‘i’ sub-brand, it was the i8 supercar that stole the headlines. However, the i3 hatchback is, in truth, the more innovative car: a futuristic alternative to a 3 Series with a choice of electric or range-extender hybrid powertrains. BMW sold 1,130 electric i3s in February.

Electric car no.3 – Volkswagen e-Golf

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The sprawling Golf range covers all bases, including the fully-electric e-Golf (1,403 sold). From the outside, this five-door hatchback looks near-identical to a petrol or diesel Golf – a blanked-off grille with a blue stripe is a giveaway – but its 24.2kW lithium-ion battery means zero emissions. For everyday driving, there’s simply no compromise.

Electric car no.2 – Nissan Leaf

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Where Volkswagen fitted an existing car with a battery and electric motor, Nissan took the opposite approach – designing an EV from the ground up. The Leaf is now into its second-generation and the new model has a huge, 235-mile range when fully charged. European buyers snapped up 1,508 in February 2018.

Electric car no.1 – Renault Zoe

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Renault sold 2,177 Zoes in the same month, however, putting this chic supermini comfortably in first place as Europe’s most popular EV. Not a bad achievement for a car first launched in 2012. Renault has pioneered a monthly battery leasing scheme with the Zoe, which helps keep list prices down. Opt for the beefier 41kWh battery and range increases to around 180 miles.

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2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid outsells diesel by 2 to 1

2018 Toyota RAV4 HybridDiesel’s downward spiral at Toyota continues. The latest model making the switch to a majority petrol-electric hybrid share is the RAV4. Toyota only introduced the RAV4 Hybrid in 2016, yet it already takes more than 65 percent of new RAV4 sales.

To drive this further, Toyota has now broadened the number of hybrid models to every trim line in the updated 2018 range – that’s Icon, Icon Tech, Design and Excel. Prices for the revised range start from £27,450 for a 2.0-litre D-4D. Two in three seem happy to spend an extra £1,555 to go for hybrid instead.

Toyota is also offering hybrid variants in fuel-saving front-wheel drive, as well as with its E-Four all-wheel-drive system. You can only get diesel models with front-wheel drive, showing how marginalised the fuel has become within the range.

There are no visual changes for the 2018 RAV4, but Toyota has revised equipment levels. Entry-level Icon models have dual-zone air con, power tailgate, reversing camera and Toyota Safety Sense active safety kit. The Icon Tech adds sat nav functionality to the 7.0-inch Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system.

2018 Toyota RAV4

Design models boast machine-faced 18-inch alloys, LED headlights and dual leather/Alcantara upholstery, which becomes full leather in Excel models (pictured above). They also feature fancier 10-spoke high-gloss black alloys and a new blind-spot monitor. You can also take the new 2018 RAV4 in a fresh colour, Tokyo Red, optionally painted in full body colour on Design models.

Don’t forget the five-year warranty all Toyotas come with either, adds the firm. Ordering opens from 1 October.

2018 Toyota RAV4: prices

Icon 2.0 D-4D FWD: £27,450

Icon 2.5 Hybrid FWD: £29,005

Icon Tech 2.0 D-4D FWD: £27,990

Icon Tech 2.5 Hybrid FWD: £29,545

Design 2.0 D-4D FWD: £30,160

Design 2.0 Valvematic AWD CVT: £32,325

Design 2.5 Hybrid FWD: £31,715

Design 2.5 Hybrid AWD: £33,740

Excel 2.0 D-4D FWD: £31,405

Excel 2.0 Valvematic AWD CVT: £33,570

Excel 2.5 Hybrid FWD: £32,960

Excel 2.5 Hybrid AWD: £34,985


The best new hybrid cars 2017

The best new hybrid cars 2017

The best new hybrid cars 2017

Conventional petrol and diesel cars will be banned from sale in the UK from 2040. Therefore, electrified hybrid cars will be the only models available that still feature some sort of internal combustion engine. The choice of these electrified ‘mild hybrid’ and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is now wider than ever, as our selection here shows. All quoted ‘on the road’ prices include VAT, but do not include the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) – where applicable.

Volkswagen Golf GTE: £30,635 – £32,135The best new hybrid cars 2017

The Golf GTE is Volkswagen’s idea of a fleet-friendly electrified performance Golf in the vein of the legendary GTI. With a combined output of 204hp from its 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine and 75kW electric motor, the plug-in hybrid Golf does the 0-62mph dash in 7.6 seconds, yet has CO2 emissions from just 38g/km. Electric-only range is 31 miles, while five electric and hybrid modes allow the plug-in Golf to be tailored to the prevailing driving conditions for the best performance or economy.

Hyundai Ioniq HEV: £20,585 – £24,185 / Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid: £27,495 – £29,295The best new hybrid cars 2017

The Ioniq is Hyundai’s new flagship range of electrified cars. Available in all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and ‘mild’ non-plug-in hybrid versions, the latter car has an official total range of 700 miles. With a low drag coefficient figure of 0.24, the plug-in version of the hybrid Hyundai boasts a combined economy figure of 256.8mpg and CO2 emissions from 29g/km. The interior is a step up from Hyundais of old, while blue accents inside and out point to the hybrid version.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: £34,305 – £46,055The best new hybrid cars 2017

Want a hybrid more suited for the rough and tumble? The 41g/km Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV and has proved very popular in the UK thanks to its low company car tax costs at launch. As well as more than enough space for families, the big SUV from Japan mates a 2.0-litre petrol engine to a pair of electric motors for up to 166mpg, and has the extra option of four-wheel-drive capability.

BMW 330e iPerformance: £35,620 – £39,720The best new hybrid cars 2017

BMW’s ubiquitous but very popular and business-aimed compact executive car is now available as a plug-in hybrid. The 330e iPerformance combines a 184bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine, a 65kW electric motor and a 7.6kWh battery to give 251hp. There’s also a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds, CO2 emissions as low as 44g/km, an electric-only range of around 25 miles, and all the dynamism the 3 Series is known for.

Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4 Plug-in Hybrid: £31,575The best new hybrid cars 2017

Enjoying its debut at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the first electrified series production Mini can travel up to 26 miles with zero emissions. When combined with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine, the plug-in hybrid has a total range of 310 miles. Three switchable driving modes help to get the maximum range in any situation, as well as up to an official 134mpg on the combined cycle. All with that standard Mini desirability, too.

Toyota Prius: £24,115 – £28,200 / Prius Plug-in: £31,695 – £33,895The best new hybrid cars 2017

The fourth generation of Toyota’s original pioneering hybrid has fuel economy of up to 94.1mpg and emissions from 70g/km. On the move, the Japanese ‘mild hybrid’ shuffles power between its 1.8-litre petrol engine, 53kW electric motor and 6.5Ah battery depending on the driving conditions. A new plug-in version boasts economy of up to 283mpg, and has the option of a solar panel roof for an easy three miles of additional electric range.

Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid: £81,141 – £146,545The best new hybrid cars 2017

The second generation of Porsche’s super saloon features an ‘E-Performance’ powertrain with a minimum of 468hp, yet is capable of a quoted 113mpg. The entry-level 56g/km Panamera 4 E-Hybrid boasts 335hp from its 2.9-litre V6 and 100kW electric motor, but all, including the full-fat 558hp Turbo S E-Hybrid, have an all-electric range of 31 miles. Offering typical Porsche performance, but with an economy slant, the lime green brake callipers are the most obvious giveaway.

Kia Niro: £21,635 – £27,385The best new hybrid cars 2017

The Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid model. Emissions start at 88g/km, while the South Korean company quotes fuel consumption of up to 74.3mpg. The 105hp 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine and 1.56kWh lithium-ion battery are wrapped in a fashionable crossover body. There’s no plug-in option here, as the Niro is a ‘mild hybrid’, and thus decides which part of its powertrain to use depending on driving conditions.

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Hybrid: £61,715 – £69,615The best new hybrid cars 2017

The latest XC90 was Volvo’s first push further upmarket, and the reinvented SUV really looks the part from its ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights to its plush and beautifully-executed cabin, complete with its portrait-orientation nine-inch colour touchscreen and Orrefors Crystal gear knob. While it may be pricey, the 49g/km plug-in hybrid Volvo’s 324hp 2.0-litre petrol engine is both supercharged and turbocharged for prodigious performance, while it can travel up to 78mph on electric power alone thanks to a 68kW electric motor. A host of standard ‘IntelliSafe’ technologies and all-wheel drive help maintain Volvo’s reputation for safety.

BMW i3 94Ah AC REx: £36,220The best new hybrid cars 2017

BMW claims its carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic i3 ‘is the world’s first mass production model to be designed for sustainability at every stage’. The avant garde small car was launched in 2013 and added a fashionable twist to EV motoring. Updated with a larger-capacity 94Ah battery last year, the 12g/km Range Extender (REx) model sits alongside a 0g/km pure-electric version. The latter has a 125-mile range, while the i3 REx’s 649cc two-cylinder petrol engine generates electricity to charge the battery, increasing range to 206 miles.

Toyota C-HR Hybrid: £23,685 – £28,085The best new hybrid cars 2017

C-HR means ‘Coupe High Rider’ according to Toyota and is what it calls its striking new crossover. A daringly-styled compact SUV, the C-HR marries the latest Prius’ advanced platform, hybrid powertrain and CVT automatic gearbox to a more interesting family-friendly silhouette. There’s a definite Lexus-like feel inside, with emissions as low as 86g/km – as well as claimed 74.3mpg fuel economy.

Audi A3 Sportback E-tron: £36,040The best new hybrid cars 2017

With CO2 emissions of 38g/km and a 1.4-litre engine, the Audi A3 Sportback E-tron is the Ingolstadt manufacturer’s answer to the Volkswagen Golf GTE. Only available in one trim level and with five doors, the plug-in hybrid Audi can travel up to 29 miles on electric power alone, while the ‘Audi Drive Select’ mode offers a choice of hybrid or electric-only power. An Audi app allows for charge level, electric range and car location monitoring, and LED exterior lighting makes sure the Sportback E-tron stands out from other versions of the German premium family hatchback.

Suzuki Ignis SZ5 1.2 Dualjet SHVS: £13,499The best new hybrid cars 2017

The dinky little Ignis has a cheeky look and character, plus, perhaps surprisingly, the option of a hybrid powertrain. The 1.2-litre engine develops the same 90hp as the other models in the range, but the SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) model’s uprated starter motor ensures faster scampering away from the traffic lights, while emissions drop from 106g/km to 97g/km. Fuel economy is an official 66mpg, and it’s all wrapped up in a stylish small SUV body. There’s even a 4×4 version.

BMW i8: £106,310 – £116,305The best new hybrid cars 2017

The slinky BMW i8 was arguably the world’s first ‘mainstream’ electrified sports car. From its impressive dihedral doors to its air-cheating sculpted rear wings and distinctive blue exterior highlights, the i8 looks every inch the performance car it is. The front-mounted 133hp electric motor and rear ‘TwinPower Turbo’ 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine combine to send the low-slung Bee-Em from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds, while emitting 49g/km and achieving a claimed 134.5mpg.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: £16,195 – £19,295The best new hybrid cars 2017

Recently refreshed, the Toyota Yaris has the small hybrid market to itself. The only supermini to be fitted with a petrol-electric powertrain, the Yaris has a 101hp 1.5-litre VVT-i engine, which produces emissions between 75g/km to 82g/km, depending on trim. Aided by its 45kW electric motor and 6.5Ah nickel-metal hydride battery, Toyota claims its smallest hybrid can deliver fuel economy of between 78.4mpg and 85.6mpg. All petrol-electric Yaris models come with dual-zone automatic air conditioning and a push-button start system.

Ferrari LaFerrari: £1 millionThe best new hybrid cars 2017

OK, we’ve cheated a bit here. While the Toyota Yaris Hybrid sits at one end of the scale, at the other is the £1 million Ferrari LaFerrari. And while the Ferrari website still lists it, all 499 examples have been sold. Dubbed the Marenello maker’s ‘most ambitious project’, the Italian supercar hybrid takes technology from F1. Its 6,292cc V12 engine produces 800hp, while the electric motor produces an addition 163hp (120kW) for a combined system output of 963hp. That means up to708lb ft of torque and 0 to 62mph in ‘less than three seconds’.

Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid: £33,995The best new hybrid cars 2017

Unlike its Niro stablemate, the Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid, as its name suggests, can be ‘refilled’ with electricity by plugging it into either a home or public charge point, as well as a domestic socket. With emissions of 37g/km and claimed economy of up to 176.6mpg on the combined cycle, the Optima offers executive car comfort and sustainability thanks to its 2.0-litre GDi petrol engine and 9.8kWh battery.

Volkswagen Passat GTE: £37,015 – £40,670 (saloon), £38,615 – £42,270 (estate)The best new hybrid cars 2017

A rival to the Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid, the Volkswagen Passat GTE is the German manufacturer’s petrol-electric executive car. Emissions are 40g/km for both the GTE and higher-specification GTE Advance models, while the 156hp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and 85kW electric motor powertrain is good for 218hp. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes 7.5 seconds, while economy is a stated 156.9mpg. As with the Golf GTE, five driving modes allow a balance between performance and economy.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300h: £36,760 – £40,250 / Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350e: £39,480 – £40,990The best new hybrid cars 2017

One of the UK’s top 10 most popular cars, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class features two hybrid models in its range. Marrying a 204bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine to a 20kW/27hp electric motor, emissions for the C300h start at 94g/km in SE trim. However, the plug-in hybrid C350e beats that, its 214hp 2.0-litre petrol engine and 60kW/83hp electric motor good for just 48g/km. With 17-inch wheels, the C350e also qualifies for the government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which deducts up to £2,500 from its list price. There are estate versions of both diesel and petrol hybrid models, too.

Lexus RC 300h: £37,145 – £42,645The best new hybrid cars 2017

Lexus bills the RC 300h as the ‘world’s first luxury coupé powered by a full hybrid powertrain’. Developed on the fearsome Nürburgring racing circuit by the team behind the LFA supercar, its 2.5-litre petrol engine is allied to 105kW electric motor to deliver 226hp. Start/stop technology and exhaust heat recycling bring emissions and fuel consumption as low as 113g/km and 57.6mpg. Four driving modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ – mean the hybrid Lexus two-door can be both an economic cruiser or a modestly powerful performance machine.

Britain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Britain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Britain’s most wanted hybrid and electric carsWhen you clambered out of bed this morning, were you desperately hoping to discover what were Auto Trader’s most viewed electric and hybrid adverts in 2016? If so, we bring good news, as here are the answers, kicking off with the most viewed hybrids, presented in reverse order. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

10. Honda Civic HybridBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Remember the Honda Civic Hybrid? Probably not, because it lived in the shadow of the more popular Toyota Prius, but it makes a terrific used buy. The Mk2 is powered by the 1.3-litre engine from the Honda Jazz, which works with an electric motor to deliver the economy of a 1.1-litre car and the performance of a 1.6. Prices range from £1,250 to £6,000.

9. Lexus GS 450hBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The petrol-electric 450h is the flagship of the Lexus GS range, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine mated to a CVT transmission. New, you’ll spend upwards of £52,995 on a GS 450h, but used prices start at £4,000. That’s an awful lot of car for the money.

8. Mercedes-Benz E-ClassBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Whether you’re looking at a used E300 diesel-hybrid or a brand new E350e petrol-hybrid, the Mercedes-Benz is a popular search on Auto Trader. The new E350e plug-in hybrid pairs a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with an electric motor to deliver CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. Prices start from £45,510.

7. Lexus RX 400hBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Lexus RX 400h arrived in 2005 and immediately struck a chord with eco-conscious SUV drivers. The petrol-electric version of the RX paired a 3.3-litre V6 engine with an electric motor to deliver best-in-class fuel economy and brisk performance. Used prices range from £4,000 for a high-miler to £14,000 for a more recent example. These things are very good at holding their value.

6. Lexus IS 300hBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Lexus’ near dominance of the hybrid sector continues with the IS 300h. New, you’ll spend £29,995 on the entry-level IS 300h SE, and in return you’ll see CO2 emissions of 97g/km and a claimed 67.2mpg. Used prices start from around £12,000.

5. BMW i8Britain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

We take a break from this Lexus party to bring you a slice of the future. Thanks to its supercar-styling, the BMW i8 is the poster child of the hybrid sector, with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor combining to create a total system output of 357hp. New, you’ll pay upwards of £104,660, while used prices start from a not unreasonable £60,000.

4. Toyota Auris HybridBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Meanwhile, back in the real world… A Toyota Auris Hybrid will set you back at least £20,895, and in return you could see up to 80.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 79g/km. The Auris Hybrid pairs a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, and while it’s not the most exciting car on the planet, it does a reasonable job of protecting it. It should be reliable, too.

3. Lexus RX 450hBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

We return to Lexus, where we find the RX making its second appearance. The current RX is available with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the form of the 200t, but the 450h petrol-hybrid is far more interesting. The 3.5-litre V6 engine and electric motor combine to deliver 262hp, whilst delivering CO2 emissions of just 120g/km. Other SUVs are available, but we doubt any will be as dependable as a Lexus RX.

2. Lexus CT 200hBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The self-proclaimed “world’s first full hybrid luxury compact” is the most affordable entry point into the Lexus brand and a rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. It’s not as exciting as Lexus would have you believe, but it is well equipped and should be reliable. Prices start from £22,495.

1. Toyota PriusBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

So here it is: the most popular hybrid on Auto Trader. We’re offering no prizes if you guessed that the Toyota Prius would be sitting at the top of the hybrid tree as it has become the near brand generic for eco cars. You can pick up a really early Prius for around a grand, while new prices start from £24,100.

Top 10 electric carsBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

So that’s the top 10 most viewed hybrids on Auto Trader in 2016, but what about electric cars? Read on to discover the most popular EVs…

10. Mitsubishi i-MiEVBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was one of the first all-electric cars to be available in the UK, but sales suffered from a high price tag, buyer apathy and a relatively small real-world range of 80-100 miles. New, you’d have paid around £30,000 for this pioneering EV, although the price was later reduced. Only one used i-MiEV is for sale and it could be yours for £5,500.

9. Peugeot iOnBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Peugeot iOn is essentially a rebadged version of the i-MiEV but, crucially, it’s still available to buy new. The price is a not unreasonable £15,995 and Peugeot claims you could drive up to 93 miles on a full charge. The game has moved on, which is why the i-MiEV, iOn and Citroen C-Zero were never big sellers.

8. Volkswagen e-GolfBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Take a wander through the streets of London and you’ll spot countless Volkswagen e-Golfs charging by the roadside. Right now, you can buy the all-electric Golf for £275 per month after a deposit of £7,034.77.

7. Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric DriveBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Alternatively, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is available for £299 per month after a £2,999 deposit and £7,194.57 dealer contribution. The Electric Drive will sprint to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and offers a range of up to 124 miles.

6. Renault FluenceBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Renault Fluence was a short-lived EV available in the UK from 2012 to 2013. New, you’d have paid £17,850 after a £5,000 government grant, but that price didn’t include the cost of leasing the battery from Renault. Something to factor in if you’re thinking of spending between £3,000 and £4,000 on a used Fluence.

5. Renault TwizyBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Renault Twizy: there’s quite literally nothing else like it on the road. It’s a bit of a hard sell in the UK, not least because you have to pay extra for the doors! Prices start from £6,690, but you’ll need to factor in the cost of battery hire, of which prices range from £45 to £67 a month, depending on mileage and length of contract.

4. Renault ZoeBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

And so to the ‘big four’ of the electric car world, starting with this: the Renault Zoe. The popular EV has recently been updated and now offers an NEDC range of 250 miles, with real-life estimates of 186 miles in the summer and 124 miles in the winter. Prices start from £13,995 after the government grant, but you’ll need to find at least £59 per month for the ZE 40 battery hire.

3. BMW i3Britain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

In standard form the BMW i3 offers a range of up to 125 miles, or 206 miles if you opt for the Range Extender model. It’s currently available from £269 a month after a £3,999 initial rental. Alternatively, used prices start from around £15,000.

2. Nissan LeafBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

The Nissan Leaf is available in two configurations: a Leaf 24kWh offering 124 miles of range, and a Leaf 30kWh offering 155 miles. That said, as in all electric vehicles, you’ll need to drive with care in order to achieve these targets. Right now, Nissan is offering a Leaf Tekna 24kWh for £199 per month with a £1,000 Nissan deposit contribution. The offer includes free insurance and servicing.

1. Tesla Model SBritain’s most wanted hybrid and electric cars

Visit the Tesla website and you’ll find a very handy range calculator. Adjust the speed, outside temperature, size of wheels to discover the impact they have on the real-world range. Thanks to a network of Superchargers and a realistic range, the Model S makes EV ownership a realistic proposition. It doesn’t come cheap, mind.

10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOWSome motorists could be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to renewing their Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Under the current rules, cars that emit less than 100g/km CO2 are exempt from tax, making them very attractive to new car buyers.

From April 1, 2017 only cars with zero emissions will be free of tax, striking a major blow for those driving low emissions cars. If you haven’t done so already, check out the new tax rules, as it could save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds over the coming years. In short, you should buy a low emissions car by the end of March, and here are ten great value cars to get you started.

Toyota Prius Active: 76g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid buyers will be feeling the pinch from April 1, as even the greenest vehicles will be subject to some kind of tax. In the majority of cases, the Toyota Prius emits 76g/km CO2, putting it on the cusp of the fourth tier tax band.

Buy a Prius today and you’ll pay no tax whatsoever. Purchase the same car in April and you’ll pay £100 in the first year, and the new standardised £140 flat rate from year two. Downgrade to the smaller 15-inch alloy wheels and the CO2 emissions drop to 70g/km, saving you £75 in the first year.

Suzuki Celerio SZ3 1.0 Dualjet: 84g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The Suzuki Celerio is a no-frills, low-thrills city car, designed for people who want nothing more than a vehicle to get from A to B. Prices start from just £6,999, but we’d recommend spending an extra £2,000 for the mid-range SZ3 trim level and excellent 1.0-litre Dualjet engine.

CO2 emissions are a hybrid-troubling 84g/km, which means you don’t have to pay a penny of tax. But be quick, because under the new rules you’ll pay £100 in the first year, followed by an annual fee of £140. In three years, you’ll be £380 worse off.

Hyundai i10 SE Blue: 93g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The recently revised Hyundai i10 is one of the best city cars on the market, especially in the tech-laden Premium SE trim. But if you’ve got one eye on the household budget, you should opt for the SE Blue, powered by a 1.0-litre engine. It’s the only i10 to slot into the lowest tax band, while a group two insurance rating means it’s one of the cheapest cars to run.

Sadly, come April, you’ll be asked to fork out £120 in first-year VED, followed by the £140 standard rate. On the plus side, a list price of £10,845 isn’t going to break the bank.

Skoda Superb Estate SE 1.6 TDI GreenLine: 97g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The Skoda Superb is one of our favourite cars at any price, offering an unbeatable blend of practicality, value and specification. It’s amazing to think that you can own something quite so cavernous and yet pay nothing in car tax. A list price of £24,725 is nothing short of sensational.

The Skoda Superb with the fuel-sipping GreenLine engine is tax exempt until April, at which point it is subject to a so-called ‘showroom tax’, which is based on CO2 emissions. The higher the emissions, the more you’ll pay. In the case of the eco-friendly Superb you’ll pay £120, followed by £140 for each year thereafter.

Dacia Sandero Ambiance dCi 90: 90g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The Dacia Sandero is famously Britain’s cheapest new car, with prices starting from £5,995 for the basic Access trim level. The most efficient models are powered by the dCi 90 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine, with CO2 emissions of just 90g/km.

You’ll have guessed already that is a car that you need to buy before the end of March, unless you’re happy to pay £380 in tax over the first three years.

Mazda3 1.5 Skyactiv-D: 99g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

In a sector dominated by the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Mazda3. But overlook it and you’ll be missing out on one of the sharpest looking and sweetest handling cars on the market.

The 1.5-litre Skyactiv-D engine is a tad underpowered, but with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km, it takes the crown as the most efficient in the range. Buy now, or pay later.

Kia Cee’d ‘2’ 1.6 CRDi: 99g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The Kia Cee’d is another five-door hatchback that’s often overlooked in a crowded segment. Buy a Kia and you tend to get far more for your money, while enjoying the company’s famous seven-year warranty.

The Cee’d ‘2’ 1.6-litre CRDi emits 99g/km CO2 and costs £19,095. Order the car today and you’ll pay nothing for the duration of the warranty. Register the same car in April and you’ll have paid £960 by the time the warranty has expired. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Fiat Panda Easy 0.9 TwinAir: 99g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

The lovable Panda is set to be refreshed in 2017, so the chances are you’ll be able to negotiate a good deal at your local Fiat dealer. Prices start from £6,995, but we’d recommend spending £11,245 for the Easy trim level and excellent 0.9 TwinAir petrol engine.

While you won’t get anything close to the claimed economy figures, the 99gkm CO2 means you’ll pay nothing in car tax. For now…

Volkswagen Polo Match Edition 1.4 TDI: 97g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

Ordinarily, we’d recommend the SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia as cost-effective alternatives to the Volkswagen Polo, but in the case of the new Match Edition we’re prepared to make an exception. In terms of kit, Volkswagen is chucking the proverbial kitchen sink at this special edition.

Tick the box marked ‘1.4 TDI BlueMotion’ and you’ll pay nothing in road tax. Just be sure you register the car before the end of March to avoid being out of pocket. Remember, the new tax rules apply to cars registered on or after April 1, 2017.

Tesla Model S: 0g/km10 great value low emissions cars to buy NOW

With prices starting from £55,000, we’d hesitate before classing the Tesla Model S as ‘great value’, but it remains a truly outstanding electric car. We’re including it in our round-up of cars to bag before April, because it’s a victim of the new ‘premium’ tax, which applies to all cars above £40,000.

While it’s tax exempt in year one, from the second year you’ll pay a £310 annual supplement for five years. Total cost: £1,550. Our advice: make sure you register your new Tesla before April.