While the fully electric car is seen by many as the future of motoring, its total domination of the sales charts is a way off yet. A lack of charging infrastructure, high prices and, crucially, the number of potential buyers still hung up on range anxiety mean these vehicles remain niche offerings. Yet car manufacturers are still under intense pressure to get the overall CO2 output of their model ranges down, which is leading to an explosion in the number of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
Essentially a ‘best-of-both worlds’ compromise, these machines offer pure electric running for anything between 15 and 50 miles, yet unlike pure EVs there’s an internal combustion engine as back-up when the battery is depleted, enabling you to travel further afield and fill up with fuel as you would with a traditional ICE model. And as the name suggests, you can also plug the car into the mains to replenish the battery, making PHEVs a great choice for the sort of short hops and commutes that most of us undertake day to day.
With more options than ever now available, we’ve compiled a list of all the PHEVs currently on sale so you can get the inside line on what’s set to be one of the most popular engine formats of the coming decade.
Audi’s entry-level plug-in hybrid has been around for a few years now, making its debut as the E-tron in the previous-generation model. Now badged TFSIe, the angular five-door compact hatchback uses the same combination of 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor (both driving the front wheels) as the Volkswagen Golf GTE and Skoda Octavia iV. There’s a choice of 201bhp or 242bhp outputs, plus a maximum claimed EV range of 37 miles. Elsewhere it’s pure A3, which means it’s beautifully finished inside with all the latest tech, while on the move its handling composure and refinement are undermined by a stiff-legged ride.