Welcome to Autocar’s exhaustive list of PHEVs you can buy today, from Audi to Volvo
As we hurtle towards an electrified future and the UK’s 2030 ban on ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) new car sales, the need for alternatives is more pressing than ever.
BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) are the ultimate goal for many governments and manufacturers, but they still remain a controversial option for many buyers. Not only are they costly to buy, mainly because of their expensive batteries, they are at the mercy of public charging infrastructure that’s still not widespread and reliable enough to
On paper, the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) looks to be the ideal stepping stone. Combining the pure electric running for anything between 15 and nearly 100 miles, they’ve got more than enough battery power for everyday commutes and running around. However, they combine this zero emissions at the tailpipe progress with the confidence-inspiring addition of traditional petrol or diesel engines for longer journeys.
Effectively, these machines promise to offer ‘best of both worlds’ experience for those still uncertain about taking the plunge with a full EV. Even better, there’s a wide choice of models to choose from, with most manufacturers having at least one PHEV on their books.
And most budgets are covered too, with everything from superminis to supercars now available with this type of petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. And to make choosing your next model even easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of every PHEV that’s currently on sale in Britain.
Audi was an early adopter of the plug-in hybrid concept, with the eco-friendly powertrain making its debut in the previous generation A3 e-tron. In the latest car it’s badged as the TFSI e, but uses the same combination of 1.4-litre petrol and electric motor (both driving the front wheels) as its predecessor and the current VW Golf e-Hybrid and GTE. There’s a choice of 201 or 242bhp outputs, plus a maximum claimed EV range of 39 miles, depending on the model. Elsewhere it’s pure A3, which means eye-catchingly angular exterior styling and a beautifully finished interior with all the latest tech. On the move it’s brisk and agile, but its handling composure and refinement are undermined by a stiff-legged ride.
Available in sleek saloon or reasonably roomy Avant estate guises, the A6 TFSI e is a capable and desirable alternative to efficient diesel versions. Powered by the familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a 141bhp electric motor, it’s now only available in 50 (295bhp) guise. It’s a smooth and well-integrated system that can travel at up to 84mph in all-electric mode and claims a range of 43 miles (41 miles for the roomy Avant estate). It’s quick enough but not particularly thrilling to drive despite quattro all-wheel drive security. Best to take it easy and enjoy the comfort and the exquisitely finished and spacious interior.
Essentially a swoopy, coupé-inspired version of the A6, the A7 TFSIe uses the same plug-in underpinnings but wraps them in a more stylish package. That means the same EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged four and 141bhp electric motor with a combined output of 295bhp. Thanks to a 17.9kWh battery, the A7 can travel up to 40 miles in EV mode, deliver 235.4mpg and emit just 30g/km. Of course, these figures demand lots of plugging in (a full charge is around two and a half hours using a 7kW wallbox). On the move, comfort and refinement are the order of the day. There is decent grip and composure, but the controls are light and lifeless.
Understated and often overlooked, the recently refreshed A8 is a luxury limousine that flies under the radar even if it gives away little to rivals in terms of luxury. Looking a little like a scaled-up A4 the big Audi it lacks kerb appeal, but its hybrid system makes up for it. A new and larger 17.9kWh battery means just 37 miles on a charge, while the 3.0-litre petrol V6 and electric motor deliver 456bhp and 516lb ft of torque for a sub five second 0-62mph sprint – these figures mean it travels further and is faster than the BMW 7 Series, but still trails the Mercedes S-Class. That said, its size and soft demeanour mean it’s better suited to cruising than carving up back roads, especially the long wheelbase version which gives rear passengers acres of space to lounge around in hushed comfort.
One of Audi’s biggest sellers, the Q3 was a prime candidate for plug-in petrol-electric power when the latest version debuted a couple of years ago. Based on the same MQB platform as the A3, the Q3 TFSI e also gets the same hybrid drivetrain of 1.4-litre petrol and electric motor, although in this case only in the more powerful 242bhp 45 guise. It also features the same 13kWh battery, but with the downside that the bluff-fronted and heavier Q3 can only manage 30 miles on a charge. Coupe-inspired Sportback option adds a dash of extra style (although has an even shorter EV range at 28 miles), but both versions suffer from uninspiring dynamics and firm ride. Still, the interior is a cut above, even if Sportback is more cramped in the back and less practical.
Given the appetite for family SUVs, the arrival of a PHEV version of the Q5 will come as no surprise. Built on the larger MLB platform for models with longitudinal engines, the TFSIe (in both standard and rakish Sportback guises) borrows its electro-oily bits from the A6, which means a turbocharged 2.0-litre EA888 four-cylinder ICE mated to a 141bhp electric motor. Again, the extra height and heft of an SUV means it can’t travel as far on its 17.9kWh battery (37 miles plays 40 miles), but standard quattro four-wheel drive gives genuine year-round peace of mind, plus more off-road ability than you’d expect.
The addition of plug-in power definitely plays to the strengths of the Audi’s biggest SUV, delivering refined power, smooth and silent (school) running and, if you charge up frequently or are a business user, plenty of financial savings. The vast seven-seater uses the same 3.0-litre V6 and electric motor combo as the A8, with a 375bhp power outputs, which almost delivers enough pace to put the frighteners on the SQ7. The 17.9kWh battery delivers a disappointing 34 miles in the heavyweight Q7, but it can be charged in a couple of hours. Air springs and low noise levels equate to a relaxed driving experience, while optional four-wheel steer provides surprising agility.
A niche within a niche, the Q8 TFSIe is a large premium coupe-SUV with a plug-in powertrain. In effect a lower and shorter Q7 with seating for five, it shares the same turbocharged V6 and electric motor pairing that’s available with identical power output 375bhp. As you’d exepect, the Q8 goes as far on a charge (34 miles), as it uses the same lithium ion battery. Still, it’s more engaging to drive, feeling surprisingly taut and agile for something so big, while performance of both is strong, with even the lower-powered version rattling off the 0-62mph sprint in 5.8sec.
After a slow start, Bentley is beginning to charge ahead with its electrification plans with the latest Flying Spur. On paper it looks like it uses the same 3.0-litre V6 and electric motor combo as the Bentayga, but while the SUV’s hardware is Audi-sourced the sleeker saloon’s come from the Porsche Panamera. That means that while the EV range is still a modest 25 miles, power is up by 93bhp to 536bhp, meaning a 0-62mph time of just 4.1 seconds – a whisker behind the V8 petrol. It’s still a big old bus, but the Flying Spur handles neatly and goes hard when needed, serving up surprising agility and composure. It’s best when wafting, however, the leather-lined cabin feels particularly calm and cocooning when the near-silent electric motor is making the running.
While controversial when launched, the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga is a necessary addition to the SUV’s line-up. Not only does it help significantly lower overall CO2 output of the marque’s fleet, it also gets owners used to a propulsive force that will be commonplace in Crewe’s missiles from 2023. In many ways, the silent and torquey EV-only running suits the car’s character (although 25 miles of range isn’t great) and makes up for the 3.0-litre V6’s lack of aural bombast – although it’s not slow, with a 0-62mph time of 5.2sec. Given how much time this car will spend on short hops, the PHEV powertrain is utterly fitting.
The all-new 2 Series looks a lot like its predecessor, despite BMW trying to pitch it as a ‘crossover-influenced’ family car rather than the less fashionable MPV it really is. Yet under the familiar skin is the brand’s latest FAAR front-wheel drive architecture that also underpins the current 1 Series. Crucially, this allows the firm to install its latest eDrive plug-in powertrains, which means a choice of either 241bhp 225e xDrive or 320bhp 320bhp 230e xDrive models, both of which manage an impressive 57 miles of EV running. Firm ride aside, the 2 Series is good to drive, with agile and fairly engaging handling, while the plug-in drivetrain is nicely integrated. Not a fashionable choice, but the spacious, well-built and brisk BMW is a fine family-friendly option.
As close to a zero compromise plug-in executive saloon as you’ll get, the 330e drives with much the poise and precision as the standard car while delivering some useful tax and running costs savings. An electric range of 38 miles is competitive, while the 2.0-litre four-cylinder and gearbox-mounted electric motor deliver a strong 288bhp with electrically assisted overboost function. The 11kWh battery means boot space is compromised in both the saloon and Touring estate, but the 3 Series handles the extra mass well, steering with precision and genuine engagement on both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive xDrive models. All deliver sub 50g/km CO2 emissions and claim at least 150mpg.
Featuring the same petrol-electric power source as the 330e, the larger 530e delivers a similarly compelling blend of efficiency, usability and driver-pleasing dynamism. The extra weight of the 5 Series body (you can have a saloon or Touring estate) blunts performance a little, but a 0-62mph time of as little as 5.9sec is hardly shabby. If you want to go faster, then the 545e (four-door only) combines the same 108bhp motor with the firm’s creamy smooth 3.0-litre straight six for 387bhp and 0-62mph in 4.6sec. Its EV range drops from 37 to just 29 miles, but it can still be used at speeds of up to 86mph and emits as little as 41g/km.
It’s all change for BMW’s flagship saloon, which goes for bold both in terms of its imposing looks and its cutting edge mechanical make-up. Grabbing the headlines is the all-electric i7, but the rest of the 7 Series range has now gone completely plug-in hybrid. The ‘entry-level’ model is the 750e xDrive that combines the brand’s silky smooth 3.0-litre petrol with a gearbox-mounted electric motor for a combined output of 483bhp. There’s also an M760e that essentially gets the same drivetrain but with the wick turned up for a combined output of 563bhp and a 0-62mph time that’s six-tenths quicker at 4.3 seconds. Either way, the pair get an identical 18.7kWh battery that claims up to 55 miles on a charge, which should be more than enough for most plutocrats daily commute to the boardroom.
X1 xDrive25e and xDrive30e
The all-new third generation X1 is based on a modified version of the brand’s UKL2 front-wheel-drive platform, meaning a similar hybrid set-up to the 225xe Active Tourer. That equates to a transversely mounted 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine for the front wheels and an electric motor on the rear axle. Total power for the 25e is 241bhp, which rises to 322bhp for the 30e, making the latter good for 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. while a full charge of the 14.2kWh battery will carry you up to 56 miles. Careful packaging means the PHEV X1 only loses 10-litres of boot space compared to the ICE car, with a 490-litre capacity. It’s also good to drive, feeling pretty much as nimble and precise and poised as the standard car, while frequent charging of the lithium ion cells delivers a claimed 403.5mpg.
If you like the idea of an X1 but want less interior space and fancy paying around £2000 more for the privilege, then the coupÃ©-inspired X2 could be for you. It’s also based on the previous generation X1, which means a smaller motor and battery combination, resulting in a lower 217bhp power output and a shorter 32 miles range from its 8.8kWh battery, meaning it also falls into a higher 12 percent BiK company car tax bracket. Still, as compact and high-riding machines go the X2 is reasonably engaging to drive, with meaty steering and agile handling, although the trade-off is a rather stiff-legged ride, particularly at low speed. It also feels solidly screwed together, while the interior has a classy feel despite lacking the brand’s latest technology and infotainment.
The X3 PHEV isn’t short of rivals in the premium plug-in family-sized SUV sector, but it makes a decent enough fist of things to make it worth consideration. Using the same 2.0-litre four-pot and 108bhp electric motor as the 330e, the heavier X3 feels a little less lively off the line, although it’s hardly tardy. The powertrain calibration is excellent, shuffling between battery and petrol power seamlessly, while the handling is nearly as crisp and alert as the standard car, and only when really pressing on does the extra mass ask questions of the dampers’ ability to control bigger movements. BMW claims 31 miles of EV range, but it will be the low 12% company car benefit-in-kind tax that will interest most potential owners.
Taking its hybrid plug-in powertrain from the 745e, the xDrive45e is arguably the pick of the X5 line-up. The well-calibrated combination of muscular and refined straight six with torquey electric power plays to the big SUV’s strengths to deliver a quick, refined and, in the right circumstances, efficient machine. It rides well and can run at up to 87mph in electric mode, yet it’s still sharper and more agile than many of its rivals in the corners. It’s also roomy and beautifully finished. You just need to put aside any questions about a two-and-a-half-tonne off-roader being the answer to current environmental concerns.
Citroën’s first (and currently only) PHEV plays on the brand’s typical strengths of quirky styling and comfort rather than the brilliance of its plug-in powertrain, which is only above average against the competition. An admittedly well-integrated 1.6-litre engine and electric motor combination drives the front wheels, but it doesn’t feel as fast as 221bhp would suggest, while 34 miles of claimed EV range is a poor return from a relatively large 13.2kWh battery. Still, it has a low BIK rating for company car drivers, while the cushioned ride and spacious, versatile interior make it easy to live with. A facelift model arrives later this year, however.
Citroen has a rich history of doing things differently, and the C5 X is the latest in a long line of quirky cars from the French brand. Straddling the saloon, estate and crossover segments, the distinctive C5 X majors on style and comfort, with real design flair inside and out and a chassis that favours soothing softness over slack-free scalpel-sharp handling. And that’s just fine. Less impressive is the 225bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain, which sometimes struggles for a smooth transition between electrons and internal combustion, plus can only manage 31 miles of EV driving.
Following a facelift last year, the Cupra-badged Leon has followed its VW Group siblings in offering plug-in capability. Available in hatch and estate guises, it uses the same turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and 113bhp electric motor as the VW Golf GTE for a decent 242bhp output. Even so, it’s the slowest Cupra Leon, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 6.7sec, while the extra mass of the rear-mounted batteries means its handling feels a little lazier and ultimate body control isn’t as good. Still, it’ll travel for 34 miles in EV mode (although a full charge takes a tardy three and a half hours) and it’s great for business users, with CO2 emissions of as little as 30g/km.
Stylish Formentor SUV takes surprisingly well to the plug-in treatment, the end result being a quickish SUV with engaging enough handling to make it a genuinely interesting family car. It uses the same engine and motor combo as the Leon, although here it can also be had in lower-powered 201bhp guise, which stretches the EV range to 36 miles – an increase of two miles over the 242bhp machine. Both are smooth and quiet when running on electricity and have a supple ride but can turn on the charm in the corners. The 306bhp pure petrol still makes sense for higher-mileage private buyers, but urban dwellers and company car owners should take a look.
On paper, the PHEV DS 7 has a lot going for it: the combination of turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors (one at the front, the other at the rear) results in 295bhp, a 0-62mph time of 5.9sec and an EV range of 36 miles at speeds of up to 80mph. Sadly, the reality is less convincing, as the integration of two power sources needs work, with a noticeable jolt when the ICE fires noisily into life. It’s also a heavy old thing with soft suspension that results in poor body control and lifeless handling. And while its lavishly appointed interior goes some way to justifying prices that start at £50,000, it feels a long way short of premium rivals from Audi, BMW and Volvo.
The market for large French luxury saloons is one that you’d have thought had long ago sunk without trace, but not according to DS. Its handsome DS 9 saloon certainly looks the part, while its roomy, distinctly styled and lavishly equipped interior has a certain charm that traditional rivals can’t match. With excellent refinement and an adaptively damped soft ride, the DS is an easy-going companion, something that’s enhanced by the 222bhp plug-in drivetrain that works more smoothly than that in the DS7 and offers 36 miles of electric range. Crucially for the business users it hopes to attract (up to 80% of buyers), it delivers an 11% BIK rate. For those with even more cash to burn and a perverse love of depreciation, there’s also the flagship 335bhp twin motor version that’ll crack 38 miles between charges and zip from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. But at nearly £60,000 it’s eye-wateringly expensive.
You know electrification is inevitable when Ferrari adds plug-in technology to one of its fastest-ever series production cars. The headline numbers are staggering, with 986bhp, 2.6sec to 0-62mph and a 211mph top speed. Yet it can also travel 15 miles in EV mode using two front-axle-mounted motors (there’s a third motor between the 3.9-litre V8 and eight-speed gearbox). Performance is, as you’d expect, outrageous, while the handling is razor sharp thanks in part to the torque vectoring offered by the electric motors, although it’s tricky on the limit with the ESP disengaged. Of course, there are low CO2 emissions of 154g/km, but this is a car that’s all about performance rather than planet-saving.
Hot on the heels of the SF90 comes the smaller but equally plug-in 296 GTB, which essentially is a replacement for the pure ICE F8 Tributo. Powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that’s mated to a 164bhp electric motor, it delivers an eye-widening combined output of 819bhp and will travel a claimed 15.5 miles in EV mode. While its bigger brother requires real respect at the limit, the 296 is every bit as exciting, engaging and approachable as its predecessor, yet it goes even faster. It even sounds good, while the finely honed dampers manage to combine cast iron control with real comfort. Once you’ve stopped smiling you’ll have time to wonder how Ferrari has made something so complex feel so natural from behind the wheel.
Given its status as one of the biggest car makers, you’d expect Ford to be at the forefront of electrification, but so far the Kuga is the only model with plug-in capability. However, with its compact SUV remit, it’s aimed at a popular corner of the market, while its drivetrain works remarkably well. The combination of 2.5-litre engine and electric motor provides 222bhp, but it’s the refinement and comfort that impress, something you’ll appreciate when using the 35-mile electric range. It also steers and handles more sweetly than rivals from Peugeot and Vauxhall. The only real niggles are the grabby brakes and an interior that doesn’t feel anywhere near as premium as it’s clearly meant to.
It’s badged as a PHEV, but in practice the Tourneo is a range extender, meaning its electric motor drives the front wheels all the time while a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine serves as a generator. Given its vast size (the eight- or nine-seat Tourneo is effectively a Transit with more windows), the 124bhp performance is adequate, but once the claimed range of 33 miles is up, the ICE can become intrusive as it buzzes away trying to maintain minimum charge until you can plug in, so the Ford is at its best with frequent charging and on short trips. On the plus side, it’s car-like to drive with accurate steering and strong grip.
With Hyundai’s current emphasis on fully electric vehicles, it would be easy to overlook its range of PHEVs, yet for many these best-of-both-worlds machines still make a lot of sense. In the case of the best-selling Tucson, you get a distinctive exterior and spacious, well-equipped interior as well as a 261bhp petrol-electric drivetrain that allows 31 miles on a single charge. The power unit delivers brisk acceleration while the chassis combines comfort with decent composure and accuracy in corners. However, for most, the Hyundai’s appeal resides in its low running costs, long warranty and surprising style.
Bigger does actually mean better when it comes to a plug-in powered Hyundai. Not only is the Santa Fe large, it stands out from the crowd and its roomy seven-seat interior is groaning under the weight of standard equipment. It also handles neatly and benefits from a plush ride and strong refinement. The 261bhp petrol-electric powertrain is a little overwhelmed by the SUV’s height and heft, yet the 90bhp motor delivers smooth and easy-going perfomance on its own, with the ICE chiming in smoothly with assistance when needed. On paper the flagship version’s £50,000 price tag looks steep, but you do get a lot of car for your cash.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
It’s a rather unfashionable choice these days, but the five-door hatch Ioniq is available in electric, hybrid and plug-in forms, meaning there’s plenty of choice. Decent aerodynamics and a relatively low weight (1495kg) given all its electrical hardware mean the Hyundai can travel a claimed 31 miles using its small 8.9kWh, and while overall power from the 1.6-litre petrol and electric motor is just 139bhp, performance is brisk. It cruises well and is a composed if unexciting drive, but it undercuts similarly spacious crossovers on price. If you can live with the anonymous looks and slightly cheap interior, it represents one of the most cost-effective entries to PHEV ownership.
Given the British brand’s class-defining i-Pace EV it’s a bit of a surprise that it’s been so slow to join the PHEV party. On the plus side, the E-Pace P300e was arguably worth the wait, melding the standard car’s surprisingly engaging handling with a strong turn of speed thanks to the efforts of turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol and a rear axle-mounted electric motor that deliver a total output of 305bhp. Its EV range is a claimed 394 miles, but you can’t help feeling that with a 15.5kWh battery it could be better (blame the two ton kerbweight). It’s not cheap, but the quick, composed and comfortable Jag is a characterful choice.
The F-Pace makes up the meat of Jaguar’s sales, with this PHEV version having the potential to add even greater numbers to end-of-month figures. Recent revisions to the interior and infotainment give it a properly premium feel, while the blend of composed ride and biddable handling makes it one of the better large SUVs when it comes to dynamics. Further praise is reserved for the petrol-electric underpinnings, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and rear-mounted electric motor serving up 398bhp for silent and smooth urban running and serious cross-country pace – it’s faster than a Mercedes GLC 300e yet delivers lower CO2 emissions of 49g/km.
Renegade 4XeOften overlooked in the overcrowded small SUV class, the quirky Renegade has been given a new lease of life thanks to a new plug-in powertrain. The same boxy, faintly retro exterior lines remain, but under the skin is a new combination of familiar 1.3-litre Multijet petrol and electric motor. The latter drives the rear axle for four-wheel drive, while there’s a choice of 187bhp or 237bhp outputs. The higher powered set-up is reserved for the rugged Trailhawk and its extra go-anywhere off-road modes. Both will crack 26 miles of EV running on a charge and are equally at sea on the road, where their rough and ready dynamics make them charming but outclassed companions. However, few in this sector can hold a candle to the American when the going gets tough.
Compass 4XeIf the Renegade faces a tough time, then that’s nothing compared to the Compass, which is aimed slap-bang in the middle of the compact crossover class dominated by models such as the VW Tiguan. Still, the arrival of the 4Xe plug-in gives the Jeep the sort of fuel-saving powertrain that is now a must-have in this sector. It’s effectively the same set-up as in the Renegade, with a 1.3-litre petrol coupled with an electric motor for four-wheel drive and a combined output of either 178 or 237bhp. An 11.4kWh battery gives a zero emissions range of 30 miles, while 0-62mph takes as little as 7.5 seconds. It feels assured and planted on the road, with a plush ride and decent refinement. Yes the interior looks and feels cheap, but it’s a characterful if flawed choice in an increasingly homogenous corner of the market.
Kia Niro PHEV
One of the UK’s most popular PHEV models, the Niro has now been replaced by an all-new second generation model. It’s way adventerous in its styling, while the interior is both more spacious and better finished, with surprisingly upmarket ambience. One move it handles with greater composure, even if it’s still far from exciting, while a firm low speed ride becomes more cosseting as speeds rise. An EV range of up to 40 miles is fairly good and the motor delivers decent response around town. However, while the 1.6-litre petrol motor is better isolated than before, the transition between petrol power and electrical energy still lacks smoothness, something that’s exacerbated by the slow-witted six-speed twin-clutch gearbox.. For company car users the low CO2 emissions of as little as 19g/km make it a no-brainer, but for private buyers the £4000 premium over the hybrid will take some justifying.
The jacked-up Ceed hatchback has proved a bit of a hit for Kia, selling more than the traditional standard car. Yet the Xceed is not at its best in PHEV guise, suffering from the same vocal and slightly sluggish 139bhp petrol-electric powertrain as the Niro. Yet while it’s a little more stylish and has the same 36-mile EV range, it lacks its close relation’s roomier cabin and costs a little more to buy. The claimed 201.9mpg and 32g/km emissions look good on paper, but unless it fits in with your lifestyle or you’re a business user, the less expensive self-charging hybrid could make more sense.
You can’t fault Kia’s confidence with the latest Sportage, which in its previous guise was one of the brand’s most popular offereings. Even so, the Korean company has gone for bold with the styling, the latest car’s challenging grille and LED headlamp treatment meaning that beauty will most definitley be in the eye of the beholder. However, there are no risks with the underpinnings, which feature the now fashionable mix of ICE and hybrid powertrains, includinh a powerful PHEV. Already seen in the closely related Hyundai Tucson, the 1.6-litre petrol-electric combo delivers 261bhp and, crucially, a 43 miles EV range, which drops it into the 9% BiK band for company car drivers. Better still, it’s more satisfying to steer than most crossover rivals and has an interior that’s classy and spacious.
Kia Sorento PHEV
In essence a Hyundai Santa Fe in a slightly more awkwardly styled and angular frock, the Sorento is helped and hobbled by the same strengths and weaknesses. It’s a big car and there’s plenty of space inside, with room for seven, plus it’s nicely finished and well equipped. It’s also quiet and comfortable on the move, easy to drive and has a decent 35-mile range. Yet the 261bhp petrol-electric powerplant can feel overwhelmed by the hefty Sorento’s body, while at the wrong side of £45,000, it’s not cheap. However, company car users will benefit from the 38g/km CO2 emissions.
The recently revised Discover Sport remains a compelling mid-sized SUV choice, blending upmarket appeal with a poised on road demeanour and unrivalled off-road ability. It’s also one of the better PHEV options in this class, its three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol and rear-mounted electric motor working in real harmony to deliver smooth and muscular progress, while the 15kWh battery claims a middling 36 miles of range. Sadly this version loses the seven-seat option, but the interior is roomy for five and has a fine infotainment system, plus it has a classy look and feel that has more than a hint of mini-Range Rover about it.
Perhaps surprisingly, the plug-in version is the most capable and rounded Defender 110 in the line-up. If, like most, you do lots of short journeys and the odd long hop, then its mix of 27 miles of EV range and beautifully calibrated union of 2.0-litre petrol engine and 139bhp electric motor (combined output of 400bhp) will make it a pleasant and relaxing partner with a decent turn of speed. Its 17.9kWh battery accepts 50kW for rapid top-ups, while precise electric motor control makes it excellent off road. Yet it’s on the road where it stars, with a mix of languid ride and surprisingly nimble handling. It’s still a big car and not cheap, but it’s packed with character and hugely versatile.
Given its urbane image and predominately on road use, the Evoque is well-suited to Land Rover’s latest plug-in technology. Essentially carried over from the Discovery Sport, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and rear axle-mounted motor deliver four-wheel drive when needed but also enhanced efficiency and a claimed 39 miles of electric range. The system is smooth and powerful on the move, further enhancing the car’s impressive rolling refinement, and while it’s heavier than the standard car it still rides and handles with the same lightness of touch. It’s not cheap but running costs are reduced, especially for business users.
The most dynamic large Range Rover is now in its third generation and it gets the latest iteration of the firm’s plug-in hybrid underpinnings, which means turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol mated to gearbox-mounted electric motor to deliver either 434bhp (440e) or 503bhp (510e). The battery is a generous 38.2kWh, which means an EV range of up to 70 miles – for many users it’s unlikely they’ll ever awaken the ICE unit from its slumber on most journeys Better still, the system is well integrated and delivers strong performance, plus the financial savings are there if it fits in with your life. As you’d expect, the Sport is good to drive, combining the bigger Range Rover’s hushed refinement and peerless comfort with a touch more agility.
The Velar is Range Rover’s most fashionable large SUV offering, aimed at a younger audience, which means they’ll probably like the P400e’s sop to CO2 reductions. The larger, 17.1kWh battery is connected to a 141bhp electric motor for a claimed 33 miles of range and a top speed of 87mph. Working in harmony with a four-cylinder petrol engine, it delivers 399bhp and a sub-six-second 0-60mph time. It also falls into the 11% BIK band thanks to emissions of 49g/km. It feels quick and composed on the road, but the imperious luxury of the interior is spoiled by a surprisingly unsettled ride. If you do long distances frequently, the muscular diesels still represent a better bet.
The original luxury SUV enters its seventh decade at the top of its game. Essentially all-new from the ground up, this fifth generation machine is as imperious as ever, combining limousine comfort and refinement with a go-anywhere ability no rival can match. This class-leading display extends to the adoption of the same cutting edge plug-in hybrid drivetrains as the Sport, which combine a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol with an electric motor and 38.2 kWh battery. The result is a choice of 434bhp or 503bhp power outputs, with both delivering the same excellent claimed EV range of 70 miles. Factor in a spacious interior with true club class comfort and impressively cultured on-road driving dynamics, and you’ll find the new Range Rover has very few chinks in its armour.
While Lexus has embraced hybrid technology more than most, until recently the uppercrust Japanese brand has been resistant to plug-in tech or full EVs. However, the latest NX450h+ aims to make up for lost time with a PHEV specification that’s bang-up-to-date, easily matching more established plug-in providers for on-paper appeal. The combination of 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder and electric motors delivers a thumping 302bhp, while the use of a large 18.1kWh battery serves up a claimed EV range of 40 miles. Behind the wheel, the NX plays to the brand’s traditional strengths of hushed refinement and cosseting comfort, while the interior is roomy, lavishly appointed and beautifully finished. You can hustle the Lexus, but there’s not much fun to be had. Instead, you should simply sit back, relax and enjoy unfussed and relaxing progress, as well as some useful savings on running costs.
It’s probably unfair to suggest the Artura is make-or-break for McLaren, but there’s no denying the newcomer is an important addition for the brand’s future. Effectively the first all-new design for a decade, it’s built on the new McLaren Lightweight Carbon Architecture and features a new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine that’s mated to a 94bhp electric motor for a total output of 671bhp. There’s also a relatively modest 17.4 kWh battery that helps give a claimed 19-miles of EV running. The good news is that the Artura is still a McLaren at heart, which means it’s scorchingly quick in a straight line and combines razor-sharp handling with surprisingly compliant ride. There’s also the brand time-honoured hydraulically assisted steering that delivers unrivalled weighting and feedback. Not as soulful as a Ferrari 296 GTB, but arguably one of the Woking firm’s most complete efforts to date.
The three-pointed star’s entry point should be a sure-fire hit as it’s targeted at the user-chooser company car heartland. Boasting a premium badge, classy interior and CO2 emissions of just 26g/km, the A250e hatch and saloon will certainly keep any fleet manager happy. Better still, a large 15.6kWh battery results in an impressive 44 miles of claimed EV running, while the electric motor delivers excellent performance. Yet there are downsides, not least the lead-footed handling and stiff-legged ride. The 1.3-litre petrol isn’t great either, sounding gruff and strained when in use. Great on paper, the A-Class’s savings come with dynamic compromises.
Compact MPVs aren’t the showroom stars they once were, but Mercedes’ (recently abandoned) desire to fill every niche means you can still buy a B-Class, and one with a plug-in powertrain at that. It’s the same 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor combination as in the A250e, meaning it shares that system’s strengths and weaknesses. The 44-mile range is good, as is the 7.4kWh charging ability, while in EV mode it’s quick and quiet, but the ICE is an obtrusive performer and the handling is stolid. Still, it’s a practical choice, with a sliding rear bench, loads of cubby space and a 405-litre boot (35 litres less than the standard car).
Another car to use the A250e’s flawed plug-in mechanicals is the rather sleek CLA, which is available in four-door ‘coupé’ and five-door Shooting Brake estate bodystyles. Both look great and feature a classy-looking interior packed with high-grade materials and the brand’s neat MBUX infotainment. The Shooting Brake delivers a decent 454-litre boot, although the sloping roofline means it’s no estate. For the rest of the car, read the A250e description – there’s a good EV range and low taxation costs for company users, but the petrol engine is intrusive and the ride and handling will fail to lift your spirits.
The latest C-Class saloon might not have the measure of the BMW 3 Series, but as a plug-in hybrid it leads the way. That’s largely down to its hefty 25.4kWh battery that gives it an impressive all-EV range of 62 miles, official CO2 emissions of as little as 13g/km and Benefit-in-kind rating of just 8%, making it a company car slam-dunk. As with other C-Class models, the C300e is handsome (there are equally stylish saloon and estate versions), beautifully finished and packed with tech, yet the numb driving experience means it’s at its best when cruising rather than cavorting through corners. And despite the combined might of a 127bhp electric motor turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, the Merc never feels as energetic as the combined 308bhp output would have you believe.
A large executive saloon with a posh badge and an efficient plug-in powerplant should be manna from heaven for upwardly mobile business users – and the E300e certainly ticks all the right boxes for these buyers. The combination of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor brings 316bhp, a strong turn of speed, 35 miles of all-electric running and an 12% BIK rate. It’s not as engaging as BMW 530e, but with its supreme refinement, wafty ride and upper-crust cabin, it’s an incredibly relaxing choice. Only a reduction in boot size from 540 to 370 litres lets the E-Class down.
Mercedes has largely gone it alone with diesel plug-in hybrids, but long-term concerns over the fossil fuel choice aside, it’s an extremely wallet-friendly choice. It uses the same 120bhp electric motor as the E300e, delivering swift and silent EV motoring for about 30 miles, but backed by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, resulting in a slightly lower 296bhp output. It’s not quite as smooth as the petrol, but it feels quicker thanks to the greater torque. The company car tax band is the same at 12%, but the diesel claims a remarkable 217.3mpg. It’s also available as an estate as well as a saloon.
Could this be the ultimate plug-in electric vehicle? Certainly it pushes the technology further than most, no surprise when you consider the S-Class’s role as flag-bearer for Mercedes’ future developments. Available only in long-wheelbase guise, it mates a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine to an electric motor, which with 124bhp delivers only modest EV performance, although more than enough for chauffeured wafting. More importantly, it packs a large, 28.6kWh battery for an impressive 63-mile range, which is enough not to need the ICE for most journeys. In every other respect, it’s pure S-Class, meaning unrivalled comfort, refinement and luxury.
Given it’s essentially a jacked-up A-Class hatchback, it’s no surprise to find the GLA has been given the plug-in treatment. Under its rugged-looking skin is the same turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine (co-developed with Renault and Nissan) with an electric motor mounted on the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both of these drive the front wheels, so there’s no four-wheel drive as on a BMW X2. The upside of this is greater efficiency, with the GLA capable of up to 39 miles between charges, although the BMW’s system is better integrated and more refined, plus it’s sharper to drive with a more settled ride.
Aimed at the Audi Q5 and Q5 Sportback, the plug-in versions of the GLC and GLC Coupé lose out on EV range as a result of their smaller, 13.5kWh battery, which results in a maximum claimed range of 28 miles. On the plus side, the petrol-electric powertrain is carried over from the E300e saloon, which means a healthy 316bhp output and a smooth and refined operation. There’s also 4Matic four-wheel drive, helping to give the GLC decent all-weather and off-road ability. The emphasis is on comfort when driving, but then what more do you want from an SUV? The Coupé version has less space for rear passengers and a smaller boot but costs around £2000 more. Go figure.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 300de
As with the 300e, the 300de takes its diesel-flavoured plug-in hybrid innards from the E300d, and like that car it makes a curious amount of sense. Yes, diesel isn’t very popular and it covers the same average 28 miles on a charge, but when the battery is depleted and you’ve got further to travel, the GLC will easily return 50mpg thanks to its 2.0-litre diesel, compared with mid-30s for the petrol. The four-cylinder unit is well insulated when it does chime in and has a healthy slug of low-speed torque for effortless progress. As with the petrol, you can have SUV or coupé bodystyles, with the less practical versions attracting a similar price premium, although both are rated at 12% for BIK.
Possibly Mercedes’ most convincing plug-in hybrid, the vast GLE 350de marries a frugal diesel engine to a large, 31.2kWh battery to deliver an impressive EV range of 58 miles and low running costs, especially for business users. The combination of the powerful lithium ion cells and 2.0-litre diesel results in a CO2 output of 29g/km, placing the GLE in a remarkably low 7% BIK band. It’s good to drive, in a relaxed and easy-going sort way – the well-integrated drivetrain shuffling smoothly between its ICE and electricity, while the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate. It also packs a spacious and beautifully finished interior, although as with the GLC, you can have the Coupé version that costs more but holds less.
The first plug-in hybrid from Chinese-owned MG, the HS delivers a lot of kit and space for not much cash, not to mention low running costs. Based on its Ford Kuga-sized SUV, the PHEV uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol to help deliver a combined 254bhp and 32 miles of EV range. Crucially, it costs from as little as £30,000 and falls into the 12% BIK band, pleasing private buyers and company users alike. It’s fairly brisk, with a 7.5sec 0-62mph, but the handling is inert and the ride a little discombobulated. And while there’s plenty of standard kit, the interior fit and finish still feels a little low-rent.
Given it was developed using the same underpinnings as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Countryman PHEV shares much with its German cousin. Under the bloated, Mini-on-stilts bodywork is the same turbocharged 1.5-litre triple driving the front wheels and an electric motor powering the rear axle, giving the Countryman four-wheel drive. The claimed electric range is a whisker under 32 miles, just like the BMW, while the integration of drivetrain is good, feeling seamless and eager on the move. The extra weight of the battery helps improve the ride, but the chassis doesn’t quite have the composure to keep up with the quick and accurate steering.
Freshly launched and boldly styled, the third generation 308 is the first to pack a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Yet while the petrol-electric combo is new to Peugeot’s family hatch, it’s already tried and tested elsewhere in other Stellantis brand models. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol and electric motor to deliver either 177bhp or 221bhp depending on the model. The EV range from the 12.4kWh battery is a respectable 4034 miles on hatchbacks (there’s also a very sleek SW estate) and emits as little as 25g/km of CO2. On the move it’s a refined, quick and smooth powertrain, which is matched to a chassis that blends crisp handling with a supple ride. It’s been a while, but the desirable Peugeot family hatch is back.
One of Peugeot’s bigger showroom hits, the distinctively designed 3008 crossover was one of the first of the French firm’s offerings to get plug-in power. Based on the EMP2 platform, it uses the same set-up as the 308 and models such as the DS 7 Crossback, which means there’s an option of two electric motors on the 296bhp four-wheel-drive version, or one motor for the 222bhp front-wheel-drive model. Both feature a 1.6-litre petrol engine and are capable and composed on the move. It’s the more powerful version that delivers an extra mile on its EV range, at 40 miles, placing it in the 7% BIK band.
Combining coupe style, hatchback habitability and a slice of SUV stance, the 408 is a family runaround with a difference. It certainly looks the part, the slightly raised ride height neatly integrated with swooping, low slung profile. Inside, it’s equally eye-catching, while the quality of the material and finish is nearly on par with premium rivals. Yet while it looks and feels distinctive, under the skin the 408 is very familiar as it uses the same EMP2 platform as the 3008. That also means it shares that car’s 1.6-litre petrol and electric motor, which is available with either 178 or 222bhp and is good for a claimed 40 miles of electric range, dropping it into the 8% BiK band. To drive the 408 strikes a neat balance between ride and handling, while apart from the slow-witted eight-speed auto the drivetrain is smooth and punchy.
The handsome 508 saloon and SW estate feature plug-in drivetrains, with both available from the lower-output 222bhp set-up from the 3008 and featuring similar EV range and emissions. It’s a comfortable and composed choice, but the real interest lies in the high-performance PSE versions. Packing two motors, four-wheel drive and 355bhp, these are very quick off the mark (0-62mph in 5.2sec), while the uprated suspension and adaptive dampers deliver a ride and handling balance that recalls the French firm’s finest efforts. The EV range is reduced to 26 miles and the price is north of £50,000, but the PSE saloon and SW are fast, fun and packed with character.
Volvo’s high-performance Swedish offshoot is making its name as a peddler of pure EVs, but its first effort was a bespoke plug-in hybrid coupé constructed from carbon composite materials. Limited to 1500 examples, it’s still available today, and while its £139,000 price is high, it’s worth every penny. Combining a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre engine with three electric motors, the car delivers a staggering 601bhp, yet its large, 34kWh battery provides a claimed 77-mile range. The two rear motors add torque vectoring for remarkably agile and engaging handling, making it a hybrid that tugs at the heartstrings, plus one that’s already a sure-fire classic.
The all-electric Taycan has been stealing the eco-friendly headlines recently, but the Panamera has been blazing a plug-in trail for the best part of a decade now. In fact, it’s now available in three guises – there’s the V6-engined 456bhp 4 E-Hybrid and 552bhp 4S E-Hybrid, as well as the 691bhp V8 Turbo S E-Hybrid, each available in saloon or pseudo-estate Sport Turismo guises. An EV range of up to 35 miles is possible, while even the least powerful will crack 0-62mph in 4.4sec. More importantly, they all drive with the poise and panache you’d expect from a Porsche, with only the slightly grabby brakes and extra mass giving a hint of their hybrid status.
As with the Panamera, the genre-defining Cayenne SUV has been practising the petrol-electric art for some years now. The current car features the widest line-up yet, with the same 456bhp V6 plug-in as its saloon sibling, as well as a detuned 670bhp version of the 4.0-litre V8. A 17.9kWh lithium ion battery delivers just under 30 miles of smooth EV range, helping deliver CO2 emissions of 71g/km. Both drive as slickly as you’d expect, feeling smaller than their vast dimensions suggest, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid delivers shattering performance. The interior is roomy and lavishly finished, while the Coupé adds rakish looks and less practicality for more cash.
The stylish Captur gets the same plug-in powertrain as the larger Mégane hatch, marrying a 1.6-litre petrol engine to a 66bhp motor for a total output of 158bhp. Of most interest is the novel multi-mode dog-clutch six-speed automatic. It’s clearly an efficient set-up, providing a claimed 30 miles of EV range from a small, 7.5kWh battery. It’s also smooth in operation, particularly around town, while the trade-off for the firm ride is composed and accurate handling. The spacious and well-finished interior is enhanced by a sliding rear bench, but models such as the dowdier Kia Niro deliver greater range and space for a similar price.
It took a little while for Skoda to jump on the plug-in bandwagon, its sensible image and value pricing at odds with the expensive eco-friendly technology. Yet for this latest version of the Octavia, it has wholeheartedly embraced hybrid for both its spacious saloon and estate models, as well as the hot vRS. The former models are badged iV and get the same 201bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor as the Seat Leon, while the vRS features a fruitier 242bhp version of the same set-up. In fairness, it’s the lower-powered cars that are best, their 44-mile electric range placing them in the lower 8% BIK band and the smooth and relaxed power delivery suiting the Octavia’s easy-going nature.
The first Skoda to get plug-in power courtesy of the VW Group’s adaptable MQB platform, the large Superb makes lots of sense, particularly in its vast estate guise. It’s powered by the familiar 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor combo, here delivering 215bhp for brisk acceleration as well as a relaxing all-electric range of as much as 39 miles. It doesn’t handle quite as crisply or ride as fluidly as the ICE cars, but it’s still a satisfying steer, while the huge interior, upmarket finish and generous specification all add to the appeal. For both business users and family motorists on a budget, the PHEV Superb is well worth a look.
A Toyota RAV4 in disguise, the Across is a welcome if expensive addition to its small selection of SUVs. Packaging a 2.5-litre engine with a pair of electric motors (one at the front, the other at the rear) with an 18.1kWh battery, the Suzuki delivers an impressive 46-mile EV range. Better still, the drivetrain apportions power seamlessly, while the 6.0sec 0-62mph dash is hot-hatch harrying. Easy-going and accurate handling makes it hassle-free to drive, while refinement is decent enough. If there’s an issue, it’s that the otherwise spacious and well-equipped interior doesn’t have the upmarket ambience the Suzuki’s premium price tag suggests.
Given Toyota’s pioneering hybrid work with its Prius, it’s a little curious that it took so long to add a plug-in version. That said, it’s now in its second generation and based on the TNGA architecture that’s delivered some of the best-driving Toyotas in years. Its slippery shape looks distinctive and allows the smallish 8.8kWh battery an impressive range of 34 miles – although you’ll struggle to shake the Uber driver associations. The 1.8-litre petrol engine is relatively unobtrusive and combines well with the CVT progress for smooth if not startling performance. Newer rivals offer greater range and performance, but the durable and distinctive Prius still has its place.
The rugged RAV4 is virtually identical to the Suzuki Across, but a wider range of trim levels makes the entry-level models more affordable. Like its twin, this Toyota offers an assured and easy-going driving experience that makes it a likeable large family wagon, plus it benefits from the same 46.6-mile range that delivers a 7% BIK rate, plus a punchy 302bhp power output that demolishes the sprint to 62mph in 6.0sec. It struggles to match premium rivals for showroom appeal, but get past the badge snobbery and you’ll find an exceptionally good PHEV SUV.
Now in its eighth generation, the new Astra is the first to appear since Vauxhall has found a home under the vast Stellantis umbrella of brands. As a result it shares its platform, engines and electrical architecture with equally box-fresh Peugeot 308, which means it also gets that car’s plug-in 177bhp (a 221bhp arrives later) 1.6-litre petrol and electric motor combination powered by a 12.4kWh battery. Vauxhall quotes an impressive EV range of 43 miles, which is nearly 10 miles further than the 308 (and causes bone of contention between the two companies, with the French insisiting their figure is correct). Either way, the system operates soothly and helps make the Astra a cost-effective company. It’s a handsome one too, its sharp Vizor design language giving it plenty of kerb appeal. You’ll have to look elswhere for driving excitement, but the Vauxhall is at least comfortable, refined and easy to live with.
A facelift of the Grandland X using Vauxhall’s latest ‘Vizor’ design language, the Grandland Hybrid is to all intents and purposes a reskinned Peugeot 3008 Hybrid. That means the same 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors (the British version is only available in higher-powered 296bhp guise) that will travel a claimed 35 miles on a charge and emit as little as 29g/km – which will be music to the ears of fleet managers. Lifeless handling and occasional spats between the petrol and electric motors make it uninspiring to drive, but the refreshed looks inside and out, plus a big price reduction down to around £30,000, mean it’s not without appeal, for company car drivers particularly.
One of the first to market a plug-in compact family hatchback, Volkswagen has expanded its range of hybrid Golfs with a fleet-friendly eHybrid joining the popular GTE in the latest eighth-generation model. The GTE packs the same 242bhp as the similarly equipped Skoda Octavia vRS and is good of 0-62mph in 6.7sec and a 40-mile EV range, although the extra weight of battery and motor blunts handling and its hot hatch claims. Better resolved is the 201bhp eHybrid, which uses the same 1.4-litre petrol and electric motor but can travel 44 miles electrically on a charge, is cheaper for private and fleet buyers and has a more relaxed driving experience that better suits the drivetrain.
Ignore the racy looking GTE badge, because this plug-in Passat is more cultured compact executive than rabble-rousing sports saloon (there’s also a roomy estate if you need more space). The 242bhp hybrid drivetrain is the same as in the similarly badge Golf and gives effortless rather than exciting performance, its refined and seamless operation a real highlight. Its 13kWh battery allows it to travel a claimed 3840 miles on EV mode at speeds of up to 87mph, while like all VW plug-ins, the sat-nav can automatically juggle between petrol and electricity depending on your route. It’s assured and accurate on the move with a nicely judged ride, but it’s not as engaging as the BMW 330e.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the swoopy Arteon has been given the plug-in hybrid treatment as part of a mild makeover. Using the familiar 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor layout (in the same 215bhp tune as the Skoda Superb iV) the smooth petrol-electric powerplant rather suits the coupé-flavoured hatchback and Shooting Brake estate models. The EV range is a respectable 39 miles (although that means it doesn’t qualify for the lowest BIK tax rates), plus it delivers a brisk turn of pace. It handles neatly with just enough involvement to keep you entertained while the standard adaptive dampers offer a comfortable ride. You just need to decide whether you like the looks enough to pay the premium over the more practical and quicker Passat GTE.
Likely to be one of Volkswagen’s most popular plug-in models, the Tiguan eHyrid combines the must-have attributes of being an SUV and some form of electrification. The addition of a 13kWh lithium ion battery pack robs the car of 139-litres of boot space (although 476 litres still isn’t too shabby) and adds 135kg of weight to take the edge off the otherwise assured handling. There are no surprises under the skin, where you will find a 215bhp version of the ubiquitous 1.4-litre petrol and electric motor double act, which delivers a slightly disappointing 30 miles of EV range (blame those bluff fronted aerodynamics) and CO2 emissions of 38g/km.
Pitched against talented all-rounders such as the BMW 330e, the S60 T8 Recharge goes its own way, delivering cool Swedish sophistication and comfort. Polestar Engineered models add bespoke Ohlins suspension for a sharper drive, but the stiff set-up is at odds with the car’s laidback character. All visions get the twin-charged 2.0-litre engine and 143bhp electric motor, which combine for an impressive 449bhp. It feels quick too, even in the EV mode that will carry you a claimed 51 miles on the new 18.8 kWh battery, dropping it into the lowest seven percent BiK band. It’s not the most involving, but with its enhanced range and low company car costs the classy and refined Volvo is a small saloon with a difference.
The estate version the S60 isn’t as practical as you would expect of a Volvo load-lugger, but it’s 519-litre boot is a useful increase over the saloons. More importantly, it’s also available with the less powerful T6 Recharge powertrain. You can have the T8 if you would rather, but the detuned version is hardly short of poke at 345bhp (enough for 0-62mph in 5.2sec) and delivers an even more impressive EV range of 55 miles. It’s arguably better suited to the Volvo’s pleasant and unhurried demeanour on the road. As with the S60, the interior is a real highlight, melding top-notch quality with cool Scandinavian minimalism.
As a statement of intent for Volvo’s sustainable future, the S90 luxury saloon is a pretty big one. While rivals such as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class continue to offer petrol and diesel options, the big Swede has gone purely plug-in. Only one powerplant is available: the recently updated T8 Recharge from the S60. Here it claims an impressive 54 miles of EV driving on a charge, yet still delivers the same outrageous 445bhp combined output. In reality, it’s much better at wafting than wanging around corners, which is a feeling enhanced by the refined powertrain and luxurious interior.
Given its greater popularity over the S90 saloon, the V90 estate hasn’t been as bold with its engine line-up, still fielding some (albeit mild hybrid-assisted) petrol alongside the plug-ins. In this case there’s no T8 Recharge, but the T6 Recharge that is available is arguably the better PHEV unit anyway. The twin-charged 2.0-litre and electric motor combination is still more than fast enough, thanks to its 345bhp combined efforts, while its 52.8-mile electric range betters anything its rivals can muster, making it the more financially attractive company car. It’s every bit as comfy as the saloon, arguably looks better, is cheaper to buy and is more practical.
The all-electric Recharge Twin is the XC40 that steals all the eco-friendly headlines, but there are also the T4 and T5 PHEV versions for those not ready for an exclusively battery-powered driving experience. Compared with the recently revised T6 and T8 drivetrains in larger Volvos, these units feel a little old-hat. Both combine a 1.5-litre three-cylinder with gearbox-mounted motor that drives the front wheels to deliver 208bhp (T4) or 258bhp (T5). The set-up is fairly well calibrated, but the EV range of 28 miles for both lags behind rivals, which is a shame, because the XC40 is a stylish and likable SUV that’s comfortable and engaging to drive.
Like Volvo’s saloon offerings, the XC60 mid-size SUV benefits from the recently updated plug-in powertrains. Both the T6 and T8 derivatives are available, but the latter only in the extortionately expensive and probably best-avoided Polestar Engineered specification. Better suited to the handsome and easygoing XC60 is the 345bhp T6 set-up, which gives smooth and silent EV running for around 48 miles – enough for most journeys most of the time. The BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport remain better to drive, but the Volvo’s enhanced plug-in capabilities make it easier to live with and far less costly for company car drivers.
The car that started Volvo’s recent design revolution, the big XC90 still looks the part today, more than five years on. Prioritising comfort over scalpel sharp handling it’s a refined and cosseting large family SUV that’s packed with neat features – for instance, unlike most rivals, even in plug-in guise the Volvo retains its handy seven-seat layout. Like others in the range, the XC90 now has the larger 18.8kWh battery, which means the 448bhp T8 model can manage up to 42.8 silent and smooth electric miles between recharges, bettering almost all its rivals. This impressive figure also drops it onto the lowest (for PHEVs) seven percent BiK bracket, helping business users save a packet.