In Depth

Best hybrid cars 2017: BMW, Volvo and more

From high-end coupes to budget saloons, here are this year's top models

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Hybrid cars are significantly more common in showrooms and on the street now than they were a few years ago. 

Manufacturers such as Toyota and BMW have invested heavily in the technology as it offers buyers better fuel economy and cheaper road tax

Range-extending hybrids are among the most common, using an electric motor and battery pack where possible to prevent the combustion engine from burning fuel. These are particularly useful in cities, as the electric motors are often used at lower speeds.

Lexus is introducing a performance-orientated hybrid this year. The LC500h pairs a V6 engine with a battery electric engine, to combine the characteristics of a grand touring car with the fuel efficiency of a hybrid. 

Here are this year's top hybrid cars.

Volvo XC90 T8
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All-New Volvo XC90 Inscription

For car lovers looking for a larger alternative to the cars on this list, the Volvo XC90 T8 SUV offers an impressive mix of fuel economy and interior tech. 

The XC90 T8 is powered by a petrol combustion engine that’s paired to a plug-in hybrid system, says Car Buyer, with a claimed fuel economy figure of 134.5mpg and 59g/km of CO2 emissions. It can be driven for 25 miles on battery power alone.

This helps bring the tax bill down, according to the magazine, as drivers only have to pay £15 in tax for the first year of ownership. But the figure rises to £440 between the second and fifth year of ownership.

The Volvo is well equipped, with parking sensors and a gesture-controlled tailgate, says WhatCar?. It also has an optional Momentum Pro package, which swaps the car’s analogue dials for a 12.3ins touchscreen.

The XC90 T8 is available to order now, with prices starting at £62,505 for the base Momentum trim. This rises to £64,805 for the Momentum Pro model.   

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Volkswagen appears to have a Golf hatchback for every type of driver, including a plug-in hybrid GTE version, powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor. According to VW, it has a combined fuel economy of 166mpg while power output is an admirable 201bhp - only 26bhp shy of the Golf GTI hot hatch.

The Golf GTE also performs similarly to its hot hatchback sibling, says What Car?, adding the "handling is confidence-inspiring and assured".

Standard equipment includes an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and Volkswagen's Active Info Display digital dashboard, reports AutoExpress.

Buyers can also opt for gesture controls, it continues, but warns it is "limited and more often than not it doesn’t actually respond to your input".

Around towns, however, the GTE's engine is "superb" and it's on-demand electric torque means it feels "nippy in a straight line", the magazine says.

Prices start from £30,635, making it the second most expensive car in the Golf line-up, although as the GTE produces just 39g/km of CO2 emissions, you could be eligible for a government grant of up to £4,500.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo 
Porsche Panamera e-hybrid

Porsche's shooting-brake-style Panamera Sport Turismo range, which it unveiled on the run-up to the Geneva Motor Show, includes an E-Hybrid model that Autocar says will be powered by a 325bhp 2.9-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine coupled to a 134bhp electric motor. The hybrid system is positioned "within the front section of the gearbox" and produces a combined power output of 456bhp, it adds. 

Porsche claims the car can achieve a fuel economy of 113mpg and 56g/km of CO2 emissions, nearly a quarter of the emissions released by the range-topping Panamera Turbo. 

However, the system takes up a significant amount of the Sport Turismo's boot space, with E-Hybrid models offering 425 litres with the seats up and 1,295 litres when they're folded - 95 litres less than the coupe in either configuration. 

Prices are expected closer to the car's summer launch, but AutoExpress claims it could cost around £83,288. 

Click here for all the details on Porsche new shooting-brake Panamera. 

BMW 530e iPerformance
BMW

BMW will launch its new 5-Series in February, bringing with it a plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance variant. 

The 530e has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which helps produce 248bhp and a claimed 141.2mpg and 46g/km of emissions. The two power units combined allow the car to go from zero to 62mph in 6.2secs and on to a top speed of 146mph. 

On electric power alone, the 530e has a range of around 29 miles and can be charged using a regular wall socket at home. However, performance figures are slashed as the 94bhp electric motor has a top speed of just 87mph. 

It is expected to join the 5-Series range in March and will cost £43,985. 

Click here to read more about the new BMW 5-Series.

Lexus LC500h
Lexus

Entering at the higher end of the hybrid market, the Lexus LC500h coupe is expected to hit the market in spring. 

It is powered by a 291bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine and a 58bhp electric motor, producing 349bhp and a limited top speed of 155mph. The hybrid system is paired to a multi-stage CVT transmission with four speeds in automatic mode and ten virtual gears in manual.

The weight of the hybrid technology makes the LC500h quite heavy, at 4,376lbs, although the hybrid system will have significantly better fuel economy figures than the lighter, naturally aspirated model.

Lexus says it will go on sale for "below $100,000" (£80,000) when it arrives in May. 

Click here for more details about the LC500 range

Mini Countryman JCW

www.guenterschmied.com

Mini has a spring date for the launch of its new Countryman line-up, featuring its first plug-in hybrid, the Countryman S E All4, which includes a host of BMW eDrive components.

The car pairs a three-cylinder petrol engine to an electric motor that combined can achieve a claimed 134.5mpg and 49g/km of emissions. 

On electric power alone, the Countryman S E's lithium-ion battery sends power to the rear wheels and boasts a range of up to 25 miles. The battery can be charged in three hours and 15 minutes using a regular wall socket. 

The Countryman S E's all-wheel drive All4 system continuously monitors the terrain and can distribute electric energy towards to the rear axle to improve traction when needed. It can also go from zero to 62mph in 6.9secs.  

Toyota Prius
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The Toyota Prius is renowned for being one of the first mass production vehicles to offer hybrid technology - and there's a new one available this year. 

The updated model is powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine paired to a battery electric motor. Combined, it has a total output of 121bhp and a claimed 94.1mpg when specced with 15ins wheels. 

While its exterior may divide opinion, Toyota has ramped up the interior quality with the introduction of a sculpted dashboard housing a large infotainment system. 

The 2017 Prius is available now for £23,295. 

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