Best plug-in hybrid 2021

Plug-in hybrids offer improved efficiency, reduced fuel costs and cheaper tax rates. Here are the best models launched in 2021

Joe Holding
Jan 31, 2022

Some great plug-in hybrid cars were launched in 2021, from budget-friendly hatchbacks and crossovers to comfortable SUVs and sporty estates. The appeal of plug-in hybrid cars comes from their ability to drive a short distance powered entirely by an electric battery and motor, while the engine can come in handy for longer distance drives.

This combination helps to reduce overall carbon emissions which lowers tax rates, so it's easy to understand why almost as many plug-in hybrids were sold in 2021 as diesels.

We have put together this list of the best plug-in hybrids launched in 2021. There are some great options on this list with a car to suit every lifestyle, so read on to find the perfect plug-in hybrid for you.

Best plug-in hybrids 2021

1. Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid

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The Toyota RAV4 is one of the most popular medium SUVs on sale right now, rolling style, excellent ride comfort and a practical interior into one very appealing package. The plug-in hybrid variant makes the RAV4 an even better car with the option for electric powered drive. It uses an 18.1kWh battery to deliver up to 46 miles of electric-only range, though we think 35 miles is a more realistic expectation in the real world from a full battery.

Meanwhile, the 2.5-litre petrol engine works in tandem with a pair of electric motors to produce 306hp. Therefore, 0-62mph takes just six seconds, which is pretty quick, although this isn’t really a car built for speed. You’ll be far better off taking a relaxed approach to driving, and letting the RAV4’s excellent ride quality shine through.

Charging the battery should take two-and-a-half hours from a dedicated home-charging unit, but if you only have a normal three-pin plug at your disposal then you’re looking at more than seven hours. Remember, if you can do all of your daily driving inside that 46-mile range you should be able to significantly reduce your fuel costs on these journeys, as a full charge of the battery should cost you less than £3.

MORE DETAILS ON THE TOYOTA RAV4 PLUG-IN HYBRID

2. Hyundai Tucson PHEV

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Hyundai added plug-in hybrid technology to its Tucson SUV in 2021. A 1.6-litre petrol engine is combined with a 91hp electric motor to produce 265hp. A 13.8kWh battery pack will be enough for over 30 miles of electric range according to Hyundai and you should be able to charge it in a couple of hours using a dedicated home charging point.

Elsewhere, Hyundai has stressed that it has made a special effort to make sure that boot space isn’t compromised too much in the plug-in hybrid version of the Tucson, something that often happens in PHEVs, as carmakers usually stow the battery underneath the boot floor. In this case, 558 litres is offered, compared to 620 litres on the non-plug-in variants - a 10% drop.

The new Tucson has more to it than plug-in hybrid tech; inside there’s a new 10.3-inch touchscreen media system, while the instrument panel behind the steering wheel also uses a 10.3-inch display for the instruments. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also supported, so you’ll be able to hook up your smartphone with minimum fuss.

MORE DETAILS ON THE HYUNDAI TUCSON PHEV

3. Renault Captur E-Tech

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The Renault Captur E-Tech is an extremely popular small SUV that was heavily updated last year, and the addition of a plug-in hybrid model will surely grab many people’s attention.

The 9.8kWh battery is a little smaller than the average PHEV gets these days, but up to 31 miles of electric range per charge remains a useful amount, especially for those who mainly drive short trips. Two electric motors and a 1.6-litre petrol engine together produce 160hp, and acceleration feels decent even if the 0-62mph figure of 10.1 seconds suggests this isn’t the fastest car in the world.

Charging should take less than two hours with a 7kW wallbox, and closer to four hours with a three-pin plug. Official tests suggest 188.3mpg is possible, although - as is the case with all PHEVs - this is a misleading figure that assumes you’ll start every journey with a full battery. Expect something like 40-50mpg when relying on the engine alone and much more if you only cover short journeys and recharge after each one.

MORE DETAILS ON THE RENAULT CAPTUR E-TECH

4. MG HS PHEV

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The MG HS plug-in hybrid offers a spacious and practical interior alongside an impressive seven-year warranty. MG is a brand that has grown rapidly in recent years, and the HS is the largest model currently offered by the Chinese-owned brand. The MG HS is a full-size SUV perfect for family use and features everything you could expect from a reasonably priced plug-in hybrid SUV.

The MG HS uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 16.6 kWh battery to produce 258 hp, which is plenty for a car this size. MG claims the HS will reach 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 118 mph, while the electric-only range is around 30 miles. You will be lucky to achieve MG’s claimed efficiency of 155.8mpg in the HS plug-in hybrid, though the hybrid technology will certainly help reduce fuel bills with regular electric driving.

The MG HS plug-in hybrid has a 448-litre boot, which is about average for a vehicle of this size with an electric battery installed. All cars come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which we recommend using over the fiddly standard software on the 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

MORE DETAILS ON THE MG HS PHEV

5. Jaguar E-Pace P300e

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The Jaguar E-Pace is known for its sporty drive and spacious interior, however, its high running costs have always been something of a sticking point compared to more affordable small SUV rivals. The new plug-in hybrid variant of the E-Pace could go some way to addressing this for certain people, however.

The P300e sits at the top of the E-Pace line-up, using a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor to produce 309hp. This translates to 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, which is pretty fast for this type of car.

The 15kWh battery is said to deliver 34 miles of electric range, which is a tad disappointing given what other carmakers can do with smaller packs. 141mpg looks good on paper, but again this isn’t a figure you’re likely to get close to, as it relies on only covering shorter journeys and starting each one with a full battery.

Inside, there’s a slick 11.4-inch touchscreen media system to go with the 12.3-inch digital instrument display.

MORE DETAILS ON THE JAGUAR E-PACE P300E

6. Mercedes C300e

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Mercedes refreshed the plug-in hybrid technology it uses in its C-Class in 2021 to help bring down the daily running costs of the premium and luxurious saloon. As is to be expected from any relatively recent car from Mercedes, technology, comfort and refinement are strong points for the C300e while spaciousness is also impressive.

Using its large 25.4 kWh battery and 129hp electric motor, the Mercedes C300e offers an impressive 62 miles of electric driving, putting it above many of the other models on this list in terms of electric-only range. The petrol engine is a 204hp 2.0-litre which offers plenty of performance for overtaking or motorway cruising. Mercedes claims an average fuel economy of 404mpg, though this figure is unlikely to be achievable in real-world driving.

Boot Space in the plug-in hybrid C300 is down 140 litres compared to the standard car at 315 litres, a result of the installed battery. The C300e features Mercedes' latest voice assistant, integrated Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music which can be heard through the optional Burmester audio system. If the Mercedes C300e fits into your budget, there aren't many plug-in hybrids that offer this balance of electric range, premium interior and stylish outside design.

MERCEDES C-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Peugeot 508 PSE

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The Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered may well be the sportiest plug-in hybrid on this list. Plug-in hybrid technology in the 508 Sport Engineered promises 26 miles of range courtesy of an 11.8kWh battery, with power at a hefty 360hp; the highest of any Peugeot ever made.

The dual electric motors and 1.6-litre petrol engine mean the car can hit 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds en route to a top speed that’s limited to 155mph. Peugeot says charging the battery shouldn’t take more than two hours when plugged into a wallbox charger at home.

To adapt to the power offered by this new petrol-electric setup, the 508’s suspension has been tweaked, with new adjustable shock absorbers and bigger brakes added into the mix. These should make it quite an engaging drive, considering the standard 508 was already fun to drive.

MORE DETAILS ON THE PEUGEOT 508 PLUG-IN HYBRID

8. Cupra Formentor PHEV

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Cupra - a sporty offshoot from Seat that’s now a brand in its own right - made waves with the arrival of the Formentor SUV in 2020. The Formentor is about as good to drive as any car of this type, and the plug-in hybrid version makes a great, albeit more pricey, addition to the lineup.

The Formentor PHEV uses the same petrol-electric kit found in the Volkswagen Golf GTE, namely a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor fed by a 13kWh battery. This setup provides the Formentor PHEV with 245hp and an electric range of 31 miles per charge. We’ll leave you to decide which of those will be more useful for trips to the supermarket and the school run.

What the Cupra Formentor PHEV proves above all else, is that plug-in hybrid technology can be beneficial for performance as well as efficiency. Just remember, as with all plug-in hybrids, to get a real economic benefit, you need to charge the car regularly.

MORE DETAILS ON THE CUPRA FORMENTOR

 

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