Our favourite plug-in hybrids from the more affordable end of the spectrum.
Thanks to CO2-based taxation rules and growing environmental concerns, the idea of running a large, diesel-powered saloon or estate as a company car is, in 2020, a pretty unattractive one for the vast majority of people.
As these rules get ever stricter, a similar shift is starting to occur further down the food chain too; the small capacity petrol and diesel hatchbacks that might have once appealed as an entry-level company car are starting to become increasingly expensive ownership propositions. From a financial point of view, it likely won’t be too long until the prospect of running a mid-spec, oil-burning Volkswagen Golf for work is about as seemingly nonsensical as running a six-cylinder BMW might be today.
Thankfully, plug-in hybrids are more widely available, and cheaper, than ever before. But a greater focus on affordability doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on things like interior quality, driving fun or practicality. Here are some of the best everyday PHEVs from the humbler end of the spectrum – be they hatchbacks, compact estates or crossovers.
1. Volkswagen Golf GTE
When it came to the job of being a refined, easy-driving plug-in hybrid, the previous Golf GTE was a pretty slick operator. What it lacked, however, was some of the dynamic pep that was essential for it to be taken seriously as an eco-friendly alternative to the excellent Mk7 GTI.
This new, Mk8 version retains a healthy amount of what made the last Golf GTE a good PHEV, but brings an additional smattering of athleticism and engagement to the table too. Grip levels are good, its steering accurate and responsive, and body control is usefully tight. Make no mistake, it’s still not quite as focused as its purely petrol powered stablemate, but by PHEV standards the new GTE has enough talent about it to keep keener drivers interested.
It now has a larger 13kWh battery too, as opposed to the 8.8kWh that appeared in the last one. This means its claimed electric range is now up to 39.7 miles on the WLTP cycle – though you’d be hard-pressed to cover that much ground in the real world. Still, that figure combined with a CO2 rating of 26g/km means the GTE slots into the 10% BIK band.
Admittedly, with a price tag of just under £36,000 the GTE is one of the pricier cars on this list. But owing to the fact that it’s also most entertaining to drive, it earns its place at the top of the pile.
2. Mini Countryman Cooper S E ALL4
Mini is growing and maturing as a car brand, and that’s evident in this second-generation Countryman – a car that is more practical and multi-faceted than before, and is also available as an impressive, if expensive, plug-in hybrid with around 27 miles of electric range on the WLTP cycle
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Like all Minis, the Countryman Cooper S E is characterful, desirable, quite firmly sprung and spirited to drive – but it also offers decent space for passengers and luggage, four-wheel drive, a combined 221bhp of peak petrol-electric power, 284lb ft of torque and the potential for sub-7.0sec 0-62mph sprinting.
The car’s off-road ability is to be taken with a large pinch of salt, but if its value for money is considered in light of everything it offers, Mini-brand desirability included, it’s an appealing option – and one fully deserving of a top-half place in this chart.
3. Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-Tech
Only the estate version of Renault’s stylish Megane is offered with a plug socket and an electric motor; the French firm hasn’t yet launched an electrified take on the standard hatch.
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