Are you looking for a new car? You should certainly consider a hybrid, as these models are cheap to run, reliable, easy to drive and better for the environment than an equivalent petrol or diesel car in most cases.
Hybrid cars combine an electric motor with their combustion engine, so when you’re driving at low speeds the engine isn’t running at all. This means fuel costs are low and emissions are cut down, and the latter means that company car costs are kept to a minimum as well.
In this article we’re going to take a look at some things to look out for when buying a hybrid car. If you’re considering a new car, you should start by coming up with a budget, just like you would with any new purchase.
You might be wondering how to get a guide as to what your current model is worth, but don’t worry – there are plenty of online services that can help with this. I value my car online, but there are other free tools you can use too.
Once you’ve got your budget ready, here is what to look for in a hybrid car.
What Kind Of Hybrid Should You Buy?
There are actually four types of hybrid car, though the first one – mild hybrid – doesn’t really count. This is where the maker has added a small starter-generator to a normal petrol or diesel engine to bolster its fuel economy, but it can’t drive the wheels alone.
The first main type is the self-charging or traditional hybrid, which has an engine, a battery and an electric motor. The engine charges the battery (there’s no plug) and it can only drive for short periods.
Then there’s the plug-in hybrid, which is nearly the same but has a plug socket and usually a larger battery that can drive the car for up to about 30 miles in most cases. This is good for charging up at home, as you may never need the engine at all.
Then there’s the range extender hybrid, which only drives on electric power but has a small engine that can charge the battery if you get into a tough spot without a plug socket nearby. It’s not that common but is worth considering.
Which Engine And Gearbox Is Best?
There are a lot of options when it comes to the engine and gearbox in hybrid cars. Many use a petrol engine, but there are diesel options – mainly the Mercedes plug-in range, which are great for longer trips but less appealing if you don’t do a lot of miles each year.
Then there’s the gearbox, which can be a normal automatic, a dual-clutch automatic (which changes gear quickly, but costs more to maintain over the long term) or a CVT. The latter is a special type of gearbox that uses belts instead of gears, and it’s efficient but can be noisy.
Some hybrids, such as the Honda CR-V, use a single-speed gearbox that engages the engine when the electric motor isn’t driving the wheels. It sounds complex but it drives very smoothly and is easy to use.
What Kind Of Car Is Best As a Hybrid?
There are hybrids in all kinds of body styles, so you have plenty of choice here. There are family hatchbacks like the Toyota Corolla that are great all-rounders, plus SUVs such as the Ford Kuga that work really well for family life because they’re very practical.
Then there are sports cars such as the Lexus RC 300h that offer luxury and enjoyable handling, or small models such as the BMW i3, which is a range-extender hybrid option on the used market.
One other category to consider is the economy car – the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq fall into this category. These are the most economical hybrids of all thanks to an aerodynamic shape and optimised engine designs that maximise efficiency