Top 10 best hybrid hatchbacks 2022

Top 10 best hybrid hatchbacks 2022



Not quite sold on electric power yet? These hybrids might convince you that going green needn't be a chore

These days, the term ‘hybrid’ gets bandied about to describe everything from a £150,000 super-GT with a plug socket to a £13,000 supermini with stop-start.

As electrification technologies in new cars have diversified, it has become an increasingly less useful descriptive term. And yet, because diesel engines have been vilified by the court of public opinion and the goal of moving to full-electric mobility is moved ever closer, more and more of us have decided we want a hybrid now – whatever that term should happen to encompass.

This top 10 chart seeks to take in anything that you might consider to be a hybrid car in the ‘traditional’ sense. That is, it has a small-capacity petrol engine that’s supplemented by an electric motor and a small battery and so can run for only very short distances without emitting anything from its tailpipe. Plug-in hybrids with their bigger batteries and greater electric ranges are also included, but not the latest generation of so-called mild hybrids with their integrated starter-generators.

That said, we are being a bit flexible in what we deem to be a hatchback in this list. The cars here come in a range of shapes and sizes, with everything from humble superminis to larger crossovers making an appearance. All of these cars have two important things in common, though: all have the potential to offer impressive fuel savings and, if you're a business user, slash your BiK (Benefit-in-Kind) bills.

-1. Skoda Octavia iV-

Okay, so it's not the most glamorous choice, but when it comes to the numbers it's hard to ignore the appeal of the plug-in Ocativa. Using the same 1.4-litre TSI petrol and electric motor combination as many VW group products (it also appears in the Golf, Audi A3 SEAT Leon and Cupra Formentor), the Czech machine serves up a decent 201bhp, while its 13kWh battery will allow a claimed EV range of up to 43 miles. helping it attract a fleet manager friendly 8% BiK rating.

Yet the real appeal of the Skoda is that it wraps these figures into a package that's bigger, more practical and cost effective than its equally electrified siblings. There's much greater space for those in the back to stretch out, while space is eaten into by the battery, at 450-litres its still comfortably more cavernous than the competition. Perhaps most surprising is that the Octavia feels more upmarket than many rivals, premium ones included, its mix of understated design and high quality materials creating a classy look and feel. It's packed with typical Skoda surprise-and-delight too, such as the umbrellas hidden in the front door armrests.

Of course, this isn't the most uplifting device to drive, but the Octavia steers sweetly enough, with precise handling and decent poise. More importantly, it's comfortable and refined, with supple suspension and a smooth transition between petrol and electric power. And if you do want more get-up-and-go and cornering gumption, well there's always the 242bhp vRS version.

-2. Toyota Corolla-

Having spent more than two decades introducing the world to the hybrid powertrain, Toyota is now well advanced with normalising it – and no car on sale does this better than the current Corolla hatchback.

Ushered in to replace the ageing Auris in 2019, the Corolla is a game-changer for Toyota in what remains one of the most important market segments of them all. It combines a healthy dose of visual style with tangible perceived cabin quality and, like one or two other of its showroom siblings introduced over the past few years, it’s based on a new global model platform and has been dynamically developed and tuned – quite successfully – for distinguishing ride and handling sophistication.

In its range-topping 2.0-litre hybrid form, it even performs with a bit of sporting edge. The free-spinning, elastic-band-effect acceleration feel of the powertrain can be found if you go looking for it under wide throttle applications, but generally the car’s part-throttle responsiveness is much better than you might expect, and its outright performance level a lot more assured.

That the Corolla is also one of Toyota’s self-proclaimed ‘self-charging’ hybrids will appeal to people who prefer their motoring lives to be kept simple – but not as much as the all-round ownership credentials of a car that they can feel equally as good about owning and driving as they do about their outgoings at the pump.

*Save money with new Corolla deals from What Car?*

-3. BMW 225e Active Tourer-

The MPV is pretty much extinct as an automotive sub-genre, although it appears nobody appears to have informed BMW about this turn of events. In fact, only this year the brand launched an all-new 2 Series Active Tourer, a car that aims to squeeze the people carrier practicality into the footprint of a compact family car. In a sea of SUV-inspired crossovers, this thoroughly sensible machine is a welcome addition. especially for those who value versatility over kerbside posturing of pseudo off-roaders.

More importantly, this new-from-the-ground-up model comes with BMW's fifth generation eDrive electrified technology, which in this case pairs an efficient 108bhp electric motor (mounted on the back axle, so the 225e is effectively four-wheel drive) with a 14.2kWh battery for an impressive claimed EV range of 56 miles and a BiK rating of just 8%. Paired with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol it delivers a useful 243bhp (there's also a 321bhp 230e) for a decent turn of speed, and while it's not the most thrilling to drive the BMW handles accurately with decent grip and body control. Crucially, it rides smoothly and quietly, which is arguably more important for a family machine.

Speaking of which, while this isn't the most cleverly packaged MPV, it gets more space than most traditional hatchbacks, particularlt in the back, plus its packed with handy storage. 

-4. Peugeot 308-

Its been a while since Peugeot has a credible challenger in the compact family hatchback class, but the latest 308 is one of the French firm's finest efforts so far. More to the point, because its based on the same EMP2 V3 plaform (also used on the Citroen C4, DS 4 and Vauxhall Astra) it packs a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time, broadening its appeal.

Featuring a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol, a 108bhp motor and 12.4kWh battery, the 308 is available with either 222 or 178bhp, but given there's little to seperate the two on performance the less costly. lower powered model is our pick. Overall, it's a smooth and well-integrated powertrain that serve-up brisk performance and can run in near-silent EV mode for a claimed 40 miles, allowing it to qualify for the 8% BiK rate. It also benefits from the sort of of fluid and engaging handling that used to be a Peugeot calling card, its blend of agility and easy-going comfort making it genuinely rewarding to drive.

Elsewhere, the interior trails many in the class when it comes to rear seat space and boot capacity, but it should cope with the demands of most growing families. And while the trademark i-Cockpit dashboard layout can be frustrating for some drivers, the overall fit and finish of the cabin is impressive, plus it's well-equipped and packed with tech. Thoroughly recommended.

-5. Toyota Prius-

The granddaddy of petrol-electric hybrids further refines the formula Toyota developed back in 1997. The latest, fourth-generation version is built on a new platform and its tweaked 1.8-litre petrol engine has improved efficiency and performance.

Overall, the Prius is even more usable than before and genuinely frugal. Although it doesn't look like it ought to be so, the car's greatest asset has become how normal it is to drive: more responsive on part throttle, well within its comfort zone at high speeds and genuinely pretty rounded in daily use.

A sub-£25k price seals the deal for the best-selling hybrid car the world has known. In this class, particularly for those who want to save money at the pump and who don’t have the opportunity to charge at home, it still takes some serious beating. Meanwhile, for those who can plug in for the night and still want a car designed for really distinguishing efficiency, the PHEV version will be well worth considering.

*Save money with new Prius deals from What Car? *

- -

-6. Kia Niro PHEV-

Like its predecessor, the latest Kia Niro is available as either a full EV, a  'self-charging' hybrid or a plug-in model - so you're spoiled for choice when it comes to electrified motive power. However, while the original version was just a bit bland, the newcomer has turned on the style. Well sort of, because while the car's angular exterior and distinctive LED lighting treatment certainly attracts attention, this isn't what you'd call a handsome machine.

Yet while the exterior is all-new, under the skin the Kia features updated versions of the old car's mechanicals, which in the case of the PHEV means a 1.6-litre petrol that's mated to an electric motor that drives the front wheels through a twin-clutch gearbox. With a combined might of 178bhp and a kerbweight of just over 1600kg performance is brisk rather than sprightly, but the 11.1kWh battery does claim a useful 40 miles of EV driving, helping it to just scrape into the 8% BiK bracket. 

Refinements to the chassis mean the latest Niro handles with more assurance, thanks to its naturally geared steering and decent grip, but this still isn't a car to go seeking out your favourite back roads in. Still, the interior is smartly designed, spacious and packed with kit, while decent refinement and light controls make it easy to get along with when all you need to do is get from here to there.

-7. Renault Captur E-Tech-

Plug-in hybrid supermini-based crossovers are rarer than hens’ teeth. In fact, the class essentially runs to one car, which is this: the Renault Captur. Given the popularity of small SUV-flavoured cars and an increased appetite for electrification, that comes as a bit of a surprise.

It’s called the Captur E-Tech, and it uses a complex powertrain that combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two, smaller electric motors and a compact 7.5kWh battery for a claimed EV range of about 30 miles, which means its lands in the 12% BiK bracket. Like the self-charging Clio E-Tech hybrid, it also uses Renault's quirky four-speed unsyncronised automatic transmission, which is claimed to be inspired by F1 tech. Ether way, complicated as its workings are, the fact of the matter is that it’s incredibly easy to get along with out in the real world. It juggles its two power sources pretty seamlessly most of the time, and it feels a good degree punchier than its modest 158bhp power output would suggest.

Best of all, it retains the regular Captur's excellent ride and handling balance, and it looks as snazzy and alluring as you’d expect a small, French car to be. It's interior also balances a premium vibe and the latest tech with plenty of family friendly features, such as a sliding rear bench and plenty of stWe have no qualms recommending one.

-8. Toyota C-HR-

If you want evidence of Toyota’s expertise in the field of hybrid powertrains, consider the fact that four of the top six cars in this list are made by the Japanese firm.

The C-HR was updated in 2019, with suspension tweaks and a larger, 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain related to that in the Corolla and RAV4 being introduced. The pay-off is a healthy, and much-needed lift in performance, and handling that is a bit more engaging than it was before.

Of course, its usability hasn’t suffered in the process. Around town, it’s still a suitably polished and refined crossover, with good ride comfort and decent enough practicality. Its sloping roofline does eat into rear head space a bit, but at least it can’t be accused of looking like just another derivative, identikit crossover.

*Save money with new C-HR deals from What Car? *

-9. Honda Jazz-

The latest Jazz might be small in stature, but its ingenious design makes it one of the most practical and flexible superminis out there. Not only does it offer the sort of interior space that many larger crossovers struggle to muster, but its exceptionally frugal 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain also delivers gains in fuel efficiency that those larger, heavier cars can’t hope to match. When we put it through the full Autocar road test, it managed to average 60mpg over 500 miles of mixed-environment driving without even trying. It’s hard not to be impressed by numbers like that.

It’s not the most interesting hybrid to drive or look at, but as an ownership prospect, it would be inoffensive to live with. Ride quality is mostly comfortable, and its build quality is as typically robust as you’d expect.

*Save money with new Jazz deals from What Car? *

- -

*10. Subaru XV eBoxer*

And now for something completely different. Subaru is not a company you’d expect to make a typical hybrid powertrain, and its new eBoxer system doesn’t disappoint on that score. Intended to be lightweight and compact, to slot into its existing boxer-engined cars without major re-engineering and to allow them to maintain the off-road capability and towing and carrying capacity for which Subaru has built a reputation, the eBoxer system is currently available in both this XV and the larger Forester SUV.

In both cars, the eBoxer set-up adds only limited electric-only running and low-rev torque into the mix of the driving experience. It’s quite a challenge to be gentle enough with the car’s accelerator pedal in order to keep the combustion engine switched off at low speeds. However, the system’s contribution of mid-range torque during intensive off-roading and towing is more telling.

The XV was an unusual and unconventional crossover hatchback before its hybrid powertrain came along, and anyone hoping that this would make it more suitable to everyday motoring, or that it might transform the car’s fuel efficiency, will be disappointed by the reality of running one. But if you really do need a dose of ruggedness and true off-road capability in your petrol-electric hatchback (rather than an entirely electrically driven rear axle like rivals offer, which becomes pretty useless once the car’s drive battery is flat) the XV might just have been made for you.

*Save money with new XV deals from What Car?*

Full Article