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The Charging Point

Your one-stop destination for electric and hybrid cars

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Best hybrid cars

Diesel might not have had its day, but there’s little doubt the fuel has come under the spotlight. Law makers and drivers alike are scrutinising diesel with the suspicion of Saga Norén probing for clues in The Bridge.

The fuel has been proclaimed clean by some vehicle makers, but various medical professionals remain unconvinced. And following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, where the company was revealed to have been manipulating official emissions tests for its diesel cars, the fuel has never been far from the headlines.

In Britain, by 2040, manufacturers won’t be permitted to sell new cars powered solely by diesel or petrol. Road tax rates are rising, and company car drivers have seen their tax bills increase if they choose a diesel.

So it’s not surprising that last year, sales of new diesel-powered cars fell by 17 per cent in the UK. By contrast, 40 per cent more new hybrid cars were sold.

The appeal of a hybrid car is that, on the whole, it will fuse a petrol engine and an electric motor to potentially match the fuel economy of a diesel while offering lower levels of harmful nitrogen oxides and particulates that escape from diesel cars.

Some are what’s known as self-charging. It means the driver need never think about the battery that powers the electric motor, as the car’s systems take care of maintaining its charge. Whereas plug-in hybrids come with a more powerful battery and electric motor, which means they can be driven for up to 30 miles on electric power alone. However, they will need to be charged, using a main supply or the combustion engine as a generator.

They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, prices and from different manufacturers, meaning drivers have no shortage of choice - and that can be daunting.

To help steer drivers in the right direction, here are ten of the best hybrids and plug-in hybrids, to suit all manner of needs.

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Best city car with hybrid power: Toyota Yaris

Price: from £16,075

Economy: 76.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 84g/km

Until the end of September, Toyota is knocking £500 off the price of a Yaris hybrid. The supermini is about the size of a Ford Fiesta and is one of the few small cars to have a self-charging hybrid system. It means you can drive at low speeds in electric-only mode and then allow the system to combine it with the 1.5-litre petrol engine for added oomph.

A recent facelift and technical changes have improved the driving experience, and with road tax at just £15 a year plus the potential for as much as 76mph, it’s affordable to run.

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Best for style: BMW i3 REX

Price: from £32,725 (inc gov grant)

Economy: 470.8mpg

CO2 emissions: 13g/km

One of the most intelligently designed and engineered cars on the road, the BMW i3 is a trailblazing, four-seat car for those who value original design, innovative engineering and an enjoyable driving experience.

Picking the range extender model means the electric car’s range jumps to a potential 206 miles, which should be more than enough for the needs of most hybrid car buyers. It does this by firing up a two-cylinder petrol engine, which effectively works as a generator to maintain the battery charge. However, remember that the battery will need to be charged up, a process that takes four hours to reach 80 per cent from empty, using a BMW-issue wallbox.

Best all-rounder: VW Golf GTE

Price: from £28,600 (inc gov grant)

Economy: 166.2mpg

CO2 emissions: 38g/km

When you take the best family hatchback on sale and combine it with one of the best plug-in hybrid systems going, is it any wonder that the Volkswagen factory can’t keep up with demand for the Golf GTE?

Increasing numbers of drivers are working out that they could save money by switching from diesel to a plug-in car like this. It offers the potential for fuel economy of 166mpg, tax is low and if your daily drives are less than 30 miles, most will be covered by the powerful battery and electric motor, which can manage speeds of up to 80mph.

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Best hybrid SUV for standing out of the crowd: Toyota C-HR

Price: from £24,500

Economy: 74.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 86g/km

If you’ve ever found yourself grumbling that all cars look alike, take a look at Toyota’s C-HR. The Japanese car maker used to be best known for turning out some of the world’s most anonymous looking cars but the C-HR shows how it has listened to customer feedback and let its designers’ creative juices run free. You don’t just get to stand out of the SUV crowd, though. The funky design hides a petrol-electric mild hybrid system of the sort you’ll find in a Toyota Prius. So it delivers the fuel economy of a diesel without the unpleasant smell, noisy rattle and higher prices at the pumps.

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Best for fun: Mini Countryman S E ALL4

Price: from £31,895

Economy: 134.5mpg

CO2 emissions: 55g/km

When it comes to word association, fun and hybrid are rarely a good fit. Well, not unless you’re talking about a hybrid-powered supercar. But there is an exception that’s affordable to most families on a sensible budget, the Mini Countryman. Even with its plug-in hybrid equipment, the practical version of the Mini remains surprisingly good fun to drive. Much more so, say, than a diesel Nissan Qashqai. It also comes with four-wheel drive, making it a versatile car when bad weather strikes in the winter. However, at 26 miles, its electric-only driving range is less than some of its type.

Best self-charging SUV hybrid: Lexus NX300h

Price: from £34,895

Economy: 48.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 133g/km

Amidst the sea of Audis, BMWs and Mercedes, it’s easy to overlook the Lexus NX. Don’t. This petrol-electric hybrid is ideal for driver who have finally grown tired of diesel-powered SUVs. Tired of the noise; tired of the smell; tired of the cost of the fuel.

In day-to-day driving the NX 300h can get close to an average of 40mpg. And as it does, you’ll enjoy a stylish interior that comes loaded with features. And with Lexus dealers continually praised in consumer surveys, for exceptional service, owning a Lexus hybrid could be a pleasant experience in more ways than you’d initially imagine.

Best plug-in SUV: Volvo XC60 T8

Price: from £53,870

Economy: 122.8mpg

CO2 emissions: 52g/km

You don’t have to work around the car industry to appreciate that Volvo is on a roll. The Swedish car maker is turning out some of the best-designed cars in their classes, with interiors that soothe away the stresses of a tough day and safety features that help keep you out of trouble.

The XC60 is the company’s mid-size SUV. In T8 trim, it’s not what anyone in their right mind would ever call a bargain, but it does feel every inch a premium product. The plug-in hybrid tech that’s under the surface gives the spacious SUV the potential for more than 120mpg and it can travel up to 28 miles in electric-only range. What’s more, it’s one of the most seamless systems you’ll experience.

Best for company car commuters: BMW 530e

Price: from £45,810

Economy: 141mpg

CO2 emissions: 46g/km

Need a plush saloon for wafting from board meeting to client pitch? Have an eye for numbers? Test drive the BMW 530e. With the optional adaptive suspension, it is one of the most comfortable cars money can buy, the plug-in hybrid system is delightfully quiet and the potential tax savings for company car drivers are enough to have you making a fist-punch at your desk.

It as good as matches the performance of a 530d, saves a small fortune in company car tax – more than £10,000 over three years – and there’s no appreciable downside to switching to a plug-in hybrid. By the end of the year, BMW will also release its wireless charging system, so owners don’t even have to bother untangling charging cables.

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Best for turning heads: Lexus LC 500h

Price: from £76,595

Economy: 44.1mpg

CO2 emissions: 145g/km

Look at it. Go on, just look at it. Lexus, the company once best known for its unfortunate association with a certain Alan Partridge, has produced one of the most beautiful coupes on the road. And the good news is there’s a hybrid version. It means you can enjoy a head-turning sports car with the performance to match a Porsche 911 Carrera while putting considerably less fuel in it over the course of ownership. The Porsche manages 34mpg, the Lexus 44mpg.

Best for impressing the neighbours: Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid

Price: from £81,141

Economy: 113mpg

CO2 emissions: 56g/km

Few drivers are likely to associate Porsche with soothing, limo-like cars. But the Panamera is one of the most comfortable four-seat luxury cars money can buy. The company used to offer diesel –powered variants, but now the choice is only petrol or plug-in hybrid. With the latter, there is the potential for 113mpg, so long as you charge its battery to full capacity – which, incidentally, can travel at speeds of up to 87mph on electric power alone, should you be so inclined.