Top 10 best hybrid estate cars 2021
If you need space for lots of luggage and quite low running costs, you'll want to check out the best hybrid estate cars on sale now
Estate cars add extra practicality to family hatchbacks and saloons without adding too much extra to the price. Increased boot space can come in handy for families, dog owners and businesses alike, while estates tend to drive better than equivalent SUVs as they’re lower to the ground.
Diesel engines were the more popular choice for estate cars in the past because their pulling power and economy are well suited to load-lugging. However, diesel’s decline in popularity has prompted manufacturers to introduce estates with hybrid powertrains. There’s now a wide range of options and brands to choose from at the moment, and most aren’t wildly expensive.
Many of those available are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which pushes the cost up even more. Yet the higher purchase prices are offset by low running costs, as PHEVs can run for around 30 miles on electric power alone from a full charge. Plug-in hybrid cars always perform very well in the WLTP emissions test and many have very low company-car tax rates as a result. They make a lot of sense for businesses, especially as diesel cars now incur 4% more tax than petrol cars with the same emissions.
The majority of cars on this list use a petrol engine coupled with an electric motor but diesel-electric hybrid estates are also available. Whichever combination you go for, the car should be cheap to run and will cost less to fill up than a conventionally powered car. However, many can combine the engine and electric motor to give you extra performance when needed, so plug-in hybrids are often among the fastest models in a range too.
If you want a practical Volvo estate with sports-car performance, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on fuel. The Volvo V60 Recharge hybrid uses a 299bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine (with both a turbocharger and a supercharger) and an electric motor, which adds another 86bhp. It’ll do 0-62mph in under five seconds but can also manage silent, emissions-free driving when you’re not in a hurry.
Unlike some hybrids, the car’s boot space isn’t compromised by the batteries, and you’ll still enjoy Volvo’s beautiful interior. The only fly in the ointment is its £40,000+ price, meaning it’s subject to a hefty tax bill until the car’s more than six years old.
Skoda facelifted the Superb range in 2019 and introduced a plug-in hybrid model for the first time. It uses the same combination of a 1.4-litre petrol engine, 13kWh battery and powerful electric motor as the Passat GTE, for an all-electric range of 32 miles and a claimed 148.7mpg.
Skoda offers the hybrid powertrain on a range of trim levels and all are well-equipped to offset the higher initial price compared to a petrol or diesel engine. The boot size is reduced because the underfloor storage is now a place to store the charging cable but the boot floor is flat - some rivals have awkwardly shaped boots.
The Skoda Octavia vRS has been a practical and quick estate car for around 20 years, and has offered plenty of choice with petrol and diesel engines and different gearboxes. Now, there’s even more choice as a plug-in hybrid version has entered the range, with the option of driving up to 37 miles on electric power. It’s the same setup you get in the Volkswagen Golf GTE, and means you can have performance and very low running costs.
We would probably pick the petrol vRS over the hybrid but it’ll definitely appeal to business users and private drivers who live in urban areas. The boot is rather small on paper but in truth you only lose the bit underneath the boot floor, so it’s still a really usable space. If you’d rather a Cupra over a Skoda, the Cupra Leon Estate also uses this powertrain, while both the Skoda Octavia Estate and SEAT Leon Estate also have cheaper plug-in hybrid options.
The BMW 330e is now available as an estate, as well as the saloon you see here. That means that you can now have the luxury, performance and low running costs of BMW’s small plug-in hybrid executive car with a much more usable boot. And that’s handy because, like many PHEVs, the batteries do eat into the boot space a little. It also means that you could use the 330e for family trips away, as well as all your business trips during the week.
The 3 Series’ popularity with company-car drivers means the 330e is poised to overtake the classic 320d, so we’re pleased to report that the 330e is as good as you’d expect. It’s great to drive, like any other BMW 3 Series, and has a 37-mile electric-only range.
The Toyota Corolla has made a return to the UK after a number of years away, and the latest car is available with two hybrid powertrains. The most popular of the two is likely to be the 1.8-litre engine and electric motor, which is shared with the Prius.
A 2.0-litre petrol-hybrid is also available, providing welcome extra performance without much of a drop in MPG. Economy of around 60mpg is possible, while the 598-litre boot space makes it a much more practical choice than the Corolla hatchback. Sharp styling and plenty of kit add to the Toyota’s appeal, as does the price - it’s the most affordable car on this list.
The plug-in hybrid Kia Ceed Sportswagon effectively replaces the discontinued Optima PHEV estate but it has a much lower price tag (and a smaller boot). Using the same powertrain as the Kia Niro and Hyundai Ioniq, the Ceed Sportswagon PHEV offers up to 37 miles of electric driving - slightly more than the Kia XCeed plug-in - and claimed fuel consumption is 188mpg, although that’s best taken with a pinch of salt.
It’s far from the fastest car on sale and the batteries eat into boot space, but the Ceed Sportswagon PHEV can be cheaper to run than other models and rivals. Again, it makes the most sense for company-car drivers.
Volvo’s bigger plug-in hybrid estate, the V90 Recharge, offers many of the same benefits as the smaller V60. It’s as fast as the smaller car, thanks to a combined 385bhp, and still manages 29 miles of electric driving. The boot is slightly bigger and the interior slightly more luxurious too. Although it’s expensive to buy, businesses will appreciate its claimed emissions figure of 46g/km of CO2 and its resulting low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating.
Mercedes is embracing plug-in hybrids and the facelifted E-Class range will feature a number of them. At least one will be a fast AMG version and there’s the choice of petrol and diesel engines to accompany the electric motor and battery. Diesel plug-in hybrids are rare but they should offer even greater economy benefits and relaxing long-distance motoring.
Unfortunately Mercedes hasn’t managed to package the batteries as well as some cheaper cars - like the Superb - so the boot has a cumbersome step that reduces practicality, although the boot’s still much more usable than the one in the E-Class saloon.
The facelifted Volkswagen Passat range brings a number of improvements, including extra range for the Passat GTE plug-in hybrid. It has an urban driving mode that only uses the electric motor in town, so you aren’t polluting the area and you can access low-emission zones.
The GTE has 215bhp and will hit 0-62mph in under eight seconds when you put your foot down. Unlike the Skoda Superb, the GTE is a separate trim level and the hybrid engine is only offered on this model.
No one needs a 671bhp plug-in hybrid estate that’s capable of 192mph and 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds, but Porsche has made one anyway. The Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid is the range-topping model, but there’s also a 4 E-Hybrid variant that represents the entry point into the hybrid range.
This car is said to manage up to 31 miles of electric range and economy of 113mpg, yet it still gets from 0-62mph in under six seconds. With the extra weight of the hybrid drivetrain, these models aren’t quite as pin-sharp to drive as the petrol models, but provide other advantages - most notably at the pumps.
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