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Top 10 best small hybrid cars 2024

If you're after an economical car that doesn't take up much space and doesn't have a diesel engine, you'll want to read our guide to the best small hybrid cars available now

The best small hybrid cars 2023

Hybrid cars are now an important part of the new car market, and thanks to their ability to decrease fuel consumption and running costs, even smaller cars have adopted the technology to keep up. 

Small hybrid cars combine the best aspects of compact, light, manoeuvrable superminis, hatchbacks and small SUVs with self-charging and even plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology. This means you can spend less on fuel and even make short trips around town using electricity alone in some cases. If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to an all-electric car, a small hybrid can be a great affordable option that can give you a taste of electrified driving.

Hybrid vs plug-in hybrid vs electric carsHybrid vs plug-in hybrid vs electric cars

The phase-out of non-hybrid petrol and diesel cars is set to happen by 2030, but full hybrids and PHEVs can still be sold by manufacturers until 2035.

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This list includes a mix of PHEVs and standard hybrids. The latter are sometimes referred to as 'self-charging' hybrids by manufacturers because they don’t need plugging in. PHEVs offer a much longer electric range than a conventional hybrid; you’ll be able to drive around 30-60 miles on electric power in a PHEV, depending on the model. ‘Self-charging’ hybrids manage a couple of miles of electric driving at most, but the electric motor helps out during times when a petrol engine is at its least efficient, such as pulling away in start-stop traffic.

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One thing to mention is that you may get a smaller boot in a hybrid than in a petrol car, because the battery is often mounted under the boot floor. However, the best small hybrid cars are packaged well to offer plenty of practicality.

The smallest cars for sale in the UK aren’t typically hybrid, so we’ve included a few smaller hybrid SUVs in our list as well.

Kia Niro SUV review

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Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The overall winner of our Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2023 impressed us with its low running costs and spacious interior. Unlike most cars that are offered as either an EV or a petrol-only model, the Niro has three separate electrified powertrains to choose from to suit all budgets. The standard Niro Hybrid has a self-charging powertrain that returns 59.8mpg. The PHEV model costs £5,000 more, but it can achieve 40 miles of zero-emissions driving from a charge, cutting overall running costs.

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No matter which Niro fits your budget, they all have impressive technology, and we think the ‘3’ trim strikes the best balance between price and equipment. However, those looking at the PHEV may want to check the boot is big enough for their needs, as it’s smaller than the cargo space in the EV and Hybrid.

Mercedes A-Class – a comfort-focused premium hatchback

Mercedes A-Class
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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There are few more luxurious cars than the latest Mercedes A-Class; it’s almost like sitting in the far more expensive Mercedes S-Class. Its twin-screen setup really moved the game on for interiors in this class, and now rivals like the Volkswagen Golf have followed suit. The A-Class may look similar to its predecessor but offers much more space in the rear seats and the boot.

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There is a wide range of engines available, and these have now been joined by an A 250 e plug-in hybrid model, capable of up to 51 miles of range thanks to its 16kWh battery. When you need to get somewhere quickly, it’ll hit 0-62mph in a hot hatch-like 6.6 seconds, and during our testing, we found it offers one of the best balances between performance and economy available in a PHEV.

Honda Jazz review – an easy-to-drive hybrid supermini

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Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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The Honda Jazz impressed us with its smooth driving characteristics and technology. It now gets Android Auto and Apple Carplay smartphone connectivity as standard, and if you go for the SR model you’ll get to enjoy them on a nine-inch touchscreen. The small car from Honda has had a loyal customer following for decades, thanks to its versatile cabin and low running costs. The hybrid reduces fuel consumption to 61.4mpg and the entry models cost around £21,000.

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Boot space isn’t class-leading, although the raised position for driver and passengers makes it easier to get in and out. We would stick with the standard wheels, as the larger optional alloy wheels make the ride less comfortable. At low speeds the Jazz feels similar to driving an electric car, but you’ll have the ability to refill the petrol tank in minutes, meaning fewer compromises.

Toyota Corolla hatchback review

Toyota Corolla
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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Toyota has a reputation for pioneering hybrid technology, and the Corolla builds on the firm's strong record for selling hybrid cars that represent great value for money. We can’t say that the Corolla has the most exciting driving experience, but it has eye-catching styling, a good reliability record and diesel-beating efficiency.

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Both the 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre hybrid powertrains return over 60mpg, and the Corolla will be around £1,500 cheaper annually for company-car drivers than a petrol Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. Even the entry-level model includes LED headlights and a reversing camera, and you get a five-year warranty like the one offered by Hyundai.

Toyota Yaris hatchback review

Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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For a long time, the Toyota Yaris was the only supermini to come with a hybrid option, which also made it one of the cheapest ways to get a ‘hybrid’ badge. There are now a few choices facing buyers, as the Mazda2 Hybrid is essentially just a rebadged version of the Toyota Yaris, while there’s also the high-riding small SUV-styled Toyota Yaris Cross, which offers similarly low running costs – all three use the same powertrain. A Fiesta will excite keen drivers much more than the Yaris, but the Toyota is easy to drive and feels perfectly comfortable on long motorway trips.

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Up to 68.8mpg is promised, which is some way ahead of the 50mpg most highly-efficient petrol superminis can manage. The Yaris should also be easier to drive in stop-and-start traffic, as it has an automatic gearbox and can be powered with its smooth electric motor at low speeds using battery power for short distances. The Yaris has an excellent reputation for reliability and a host of safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, are fitted as standard.

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Like several other hybrids on this list, negatives include a fairly small boot which measures just 286 litres. It is at least a good shape, with a smaller loading lip than the Renault Clio.

Kia XCeed hatchback review

Kia XCeed hatchback
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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The Kia XCeed is available as a PHEV model that uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor, producing 139bhp and fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The XCeed PHEV uses the same 8.9kWh battery as the old Kia Niro PHEV, so the XCeed has an electric range of up to 36 miles on a charge.

The XCeed will appeal to drivers after a PHEV that sits more towards the traditional hatchback than upright-SUV look. The XCeed’s interior is conservatively styled, but well-built and of good quality. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of thrills, it does deliver a refined driving experience with good levels of comfort. The plug-in XCeed also offers the best towing capacity of the XCeed range at 1,300kg.

Renault Captur SUV review

2021 Renault Captur
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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The original Renault Captur, like the Nissan Juke, helped popularise the crossover class. Its spacious cabin coupled with generous boot space tempted families out of their hatchbacks and into SUVs with a taller ride height and better practicality. Now in its second generation, the Captur has grown in size, features a striking new design and benefits from even lower running costs, thanks to the hybrid E-Tech version.

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The PHEV powertrain combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a 9.8kWh battery. It’s actually the most powerful Captur you can buy, with a power output of 158bhp, but as it weighs 400kg more than the standard Captur, it still takes 10.1 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph. The Captur’s six-speed automatic gearbox shifts through gears smoothly but there is a notable transition between petrol and electric power.

SEAT Leon hatchback review

SEAT Leon e-Hybrid hatchback front 3/4 tracking
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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In its latest form, the SEAT Leon is a strong rival to the Volkswagen Golf. It’s no longer marketed just as a sporty hatchback for younger drivers; it’s now a sophisticated and practical family car with a high-quality interior and plenty of in-car tech.

Like many other family hatchbacks, the Leon is now available with a PHEV powertrain. It has a power output of 201bhp, thanks to its 1.4-litre petrol engine and 13kWh battery, and can manage a pure-electric range of up to 38 miles while emitting no more than 27g/km of CO2. A 3.6kW supply can recharge its battery pack in around 3.5 hours. The Leon e-Hybrid still performs well and can accelerate from 0-62mph in an impressive 7.5 seconds. The PHEV powertrain does have a notable impact on boot space, which shrinks from 380 litres in the standard combustion-powered model to 270 litres in the e-hybrid.

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For added performance there’s also the Leon e-Hybrid from SEAT’s performance sister brand, Cupra. This model increases power to 242bhp to achieve a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds, and manages a range of 36 miles on electricity alone.

Renault Clio review - E-Tech hybrid takes on EV rivals

Renault Clio UK
Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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Renault has added a hybrid model to the Clio range which, like the larger Captur that shares the same underpinnings, bears an E-Tech badge. It’s powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine which is linked to two electric motors and a 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery. The energy the car harvests when slowing down (known as regenerative braking) is stored in the battery and used to drive the car on pure electric power at speeds up to 40mph.

It has quite a complicated powertrain that can feel rather restless when power is shuffled between the petrol engine and electric motor but on our test drive, the car spent most of its time in electric mode, which is promising for fuel consumption - it certainly runs on electric power more often than the Yaris Hybrid. We awarded the Renault Clio our Best Small Car of the Year 2022 award for its mature driving experience and hi-tech interior, which continues to impress.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid SUV review (2018-2023)

Hyundai Kona Hybrid SUV
Carbuyer rating

3.3 out of 5

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The Hyundai Kona is both relatively cheap to buy and cheap to run, plus there’s the reassurance of Hyundai’s five-year warranty with unlimited mileage. Equipment levels are generous across the range, with even the base models getting a head-up display and 10.25-inch touschreen. 

The battery on the hybrid Kona isn’t as big as rivals, meaning it’s slightly lighter and cheaper, but it will struggle to propel Kona for more than a mile before the engine chimes in. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you regularly drive in start-stop traffic and want to maximise your fuel economy. 

The Kona’s swoopy styling may be attractive to many buyers, but it means it has a smaller boot than boxier rivals. It’s also worth nothing, that despite the hybrid system including both a petrol engine and electric motor, the Kona Hybrid isn’t very quick off the mark, taking over 11 seconds to get from 0-62mph.

Want to learn more about hybrid cars? Check out our guides on hybrid, plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid and self-charging hybrid cars here.

10 best small hybrid cars 2024

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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