It’s never been easier – or maybe that should be 'harder' – to choose the best plug-in hybrid (PHEV) car. The range of PHEVs keeps growing, with more and more manufacturers staking their claim for a place on your shortlist. So, what’s the best plug-in hybrid that’s currently available on the Motability Scheme? With so many variables it’s impossible to be definitive. There’s your personal taste and your individual requirements to think about. Then there’s vehicle availability to consider – particularly given the long waiting times for many models. Now factor in manufacturers’ constant battery and range improvements, plus the introduction of all-new vehicles. Difficult, isn't it.
PHEVs are a popular choice with drivers who want a 'greener' vehicle but who aren’t quite ready to make the leap to a fully electric vehicle. They combine a rechargeable electric motor with a traditional engine in an attempt to offer what many would say is 'the best of both worlds'. With a fully charged battery they can typically be driven for 25 to 45 miles on pure electric power alone. If you can't plug it in (or have run out of charge), the vehicle can still be driven using just the power from the petrol or diesel engine, eliminating any worries over the vehicle's range.
To whet your appetite, here – in alphabetical order for fairness – are some of our favourite small to mid-size PHEVs that you can get on Motability. Read on to discover more, starting with Ford’s Kuga PHEV…
The Ford Kuga PHEV may not be the nimblest available, but this stylish car still offers an interesting choice in an increasingly crowded PHEV parc. And of course, there’s the bonus of being able to cut taxation payments and enjoy almost exclusively electric-powered motoring at the wheel.
We like the 35-mile all-electric range, a super-low Benefit-in-Kind rating and the dynamism of Ford’s Gen 3 Kuga crossover with several well-equipped versions ranging from ‘Titanium’ to the top-of-the-range Kuga ‘Vignale’. What’s more, if you’ve strong views on diesel’s eco-cred, you’ll appreciate the Kuga’s 2.5-litre petrol engine. Paired with a 108 bhp electric motor, there’s a usable total power output of 222 bhp – the headline performance stats are a sub-10 second 0–60 sprint and 124 mpg top speed – where allowed!
As other reviewers have already noted, Ford knows how to create something better. And it shows. With Kuga, you can trust Ford to offer a package that does many things well. It’s definitely worth a look!
You probably haven’t missed the fact that Kia’s come a long way since the original Pride’s UK debut in 1991. Now, as the brand celebrates 30 years here, the Niro PHEV is another of our recommendations for serious consideration.
We rate this among the best plug-in hybrids. That’s because it’s a relatively affordable compact PHEV that gains marks for combining practicality and impressive frugality. And all with Kia’s reassuring seven-year (100,000 miles) warranty.
Okay, so this isn’t going to be the most breath-taking driving experience you’ve enjoyed. But it’s comfortable, spacious, very well equipped – with all the in-car tech you could possibly want – and does a competent job as a usable family hatch/crossover. We also rather like its looks too! And it should work out cheaper to run than a diesel. Check it out!
When Auto Express reviewed the MG HS PHEV they headlined the piece as follows: ‘MG’s plug-in hybrid is spacious and practical, and comes with a keen list price and the security of one of the longest warranties in the industry. These qualities should outshine a fairly average driving experience to attract not only company car choosers but also private buyers.’
From a quick office poll, the latest MGs clearly evoke a ‘Marmite’ love-it-or-hate-it response for their looks; the HS PHEV stays true to form. However, if you’re happy with the latest MG visuals, a Tardis-like treat awaits when it's time to pack people and luggage into this PHEV. Unlike some plug-in hybrids, there’s no sign of trading off boot space for battery capacity. The 448-litre boot should be enough for four adults on the longest road trip.
There's currently a choice of two trim levels. If ‘Excite’ doesn’t do it for you, there’s the ‘Exclusive’ trim with its enhanced package of powered tailgate, panoramic roof, full leather, ambient cabin lighting and LED headlights.
If you seek blistering performance and super-sharp handling, maybe the MG isn’t for you. However, if you like keen pricing and loads of space, this could be the PHEV for you...
Moving from one end of the PHEV price range to the other, the plug-in Pug is up there in BMW X3 and Audi Q5 territory as it tries to combine practicality, stylish design and impressive economy. That said, Auto Express only gave the Peugeot 3.5 out of 5. That’s despite the car having bags of power and being ‘well built, well equipped and has a cabin design that makes most other conventional family SUVs look ancient.’ The AE testers found the 3008 comfortable, economical and relaxing to drive too. That could be perfect if you’ll be making long autoroute runs to the Mediterranean sunshine in the Peugeot’s homeland. Interestingly, the magazine’s team also highlighted surprisingly pleasing off-road terrain ability! Who’d have thought?
This is a nice-looking car with plenty going for it, particularly if you’re already a Peugeot lover. Put it on your shortlist.
With the petrol-engined version of Seat’s Leon being What Car Family Car of the Year 2021, the plug-in hybrid version must work hard to follow its sibling’s success. When What Car’s Claire Evans tested it, she was initially disappointed. However, with time, the Leon PHEV grew on her. We can understand why.
The handling is superb, making this a definite driver’s car rather than just a good all-round hatchback. There's also an estate version if you need a bit more space in the back.
Like Claire, we love the clever battery management and surprisingly good refinement – unless of course you really thrash the Leon. In fairness, the same probably applies to any mid-range compact PHEV hatchback/crossover.
In summary, we love the Seat’s sportiness, decent equipment levels, lovely little design details and sheer driving pleasure. If you’re already a SEAT fan, you’ll know what we mean. If not, take a look. We think you’ll see why the Leon PHEV makes our best plug-in hybrid shortlist.
All Volvos will soon be electrified; this XC40 variant was the first of the brand’s Recharge variants. We like it and so did trade road test portal Car and Driving. They highlighted the XC40’s undoubted engineering excellence, ‘pleasing practicality and stylish overall design.’
Of course, with Volvo, quality, safety and engineering innovation comes at a price. But surely, that’s always been the case with the Swedish – now Chinese – brand?
If there’s a downside to this Volvo PHEV, maybe it’s the boot capacity and relatively low real-world economy that some testers noted. However, balance that with the fact that this is a Volvo – with everything good we’ve come to associate with the brand – and you have a worthy member of our Best of PHEV club. If budget allows, we’d urge you to look closely at this Sino-Scandi PHEV.
In a recent online review, Autocar led by saying: ‘Plug-in hybrid Golf arrives with the same power as the GTI.’ That last abbreviation does, of course come loaded with all kinds of promise for enthusiastic drivers.
We can only agree with the magazine’s summary of the latest Golf 8 PHEV. In essence, the GTE comes close to GTI levels of performance and handling. But without quite matching the latter’s legendary character and personality.
That said, the GTE plug-in hybrid comes packed to the brim with versatility and impressive economy, which is sure to appeal to many drivers. If this VW was getting its latest term report, we’d agree with Autocar who summed it up as ‘an extremely capable and convincing effort.’ And isn’t that what’s marked the VW GTI and GTE bloodline ever since the red-accented road burners first hit Europe’s tarmac in the 1970s? Drive it; we think you’ll love it!
So that’s our snapshot of some favourite ‘best plug-in hybrids’ that are available on Motability in autumn 2021. You’re going to ask which is our favourite, right? And we’re going to remind you that as ever, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. So, you’ll need to make the rounds of the dealerships and make your own mind up, based on your budget and personal circumstances. That said, if this writer were offered the Golf GTE he wouldn’t say no!