Currently reading: Which PHEV to buy? Every plug-in hybrid on sale in the UK
Welcome to Autocar's exhaustive list of PHEVs you can buy today, from Audi to Volvo
James Disdale
News
37 mins read
23 September 2021

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

A3 Sportback TFSIe

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 its beautifully finished inside with all the latest tech, while on the move its handling composure and refinement are undermined by a stiff-legged ride.

A6 TFSIe

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Available in sleek saloon or reasonably roomy Avant estate guises, the A6 TFSIe 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 available in 50 (295bhp) or 55 (362bhp) total power outputs. It’s a smooth and well-integrated system that can travel at up to 84mph in all-electric mode and claims a range of 40 miles (although 30 is more realistic). 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.

A7 TFSIe

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 combined outputs of either 295bhp or 362bhp. 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.

A8 TFSIe

Understated and often overlooked, the 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 lacks kerb appeal but its hybrid system makes up for it. A 14.9kWh battery means just 30 miles on a charge, while the 3.0-litre petrol V6 and electric motor deliver 443bhp and 516lb ft for a sub-5.0sec 0-62mph sprint. It can therefore travel further and is faster than its BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class equivalents. 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.

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Q3 TFSIe

One of Audi’s biggest sellers, the Q3 was a prime candidate for plug-in petrol-electric power when the latest version was given its debut a couple of years ago. Based on the same MQB platform as the A3, the Q3 TFSIe also gets the same hybrid drivetrain of 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor, although in this case only in the more powerful 242bhp 45 guise. It also features the same 13.0kWh battery, but with the downside that the bluff-fronted and heavier Q3 can only manage 31 miles on a charge. The coupé-inspired Sportback option adds a dash of extra style, but both versions suffer from uninspiring dynamics and a firm ride. Still, the interior is a cut above, even if the Sportback is more cramped in the back and less practical.

Q5 TFSIe

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.

Q7 TFSIe

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 choice of 375bhp and 456bhp power outputs, the latter delivering enough pace to put the frighteners on the SQ7. The 17.9kWh battery delivers a disappointing 30 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.

Q8 TFSIe

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A niche within a niche, the Q8 TFSIe is a large premium coupé-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 options of 375bhp and 456bhp. Curiously, the Q8 can’t go as far on a charge (28 miles), despite using 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.

Bentley

Bentayga Hybrid

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.

BMW

225xe Active Tourer

One of its first plug-in models, the 225xe is arguably the pick of the Active Tourer line-up thanks to its blend of performance, poise and parsimony. Based on the standard front-wheel-drive machine, it uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a rear-mounted 93bhp electric motor to deliver four-wheel drive and a combined output of 217bhp. It’s not light at 1760kg but the instant torque means a brisk 0-62mph of 6.7sec, while the electric range is a modest 31 miles. It’s decent to drive with good agility, while the neatly packaged drivetrain makes it as roomy and practical as the ICE versions.

330e

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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 37 miles is competitive, while the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine 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.

530e

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.

745e

BMW’s biggest saloon hasn’t escaped the plug-in treatment as it vies for ultimate luxury limousine credentials with the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8. Sharing its 3.0-litre straight six and 108bhp electric motor with the 545e, the 7 Series is particularly well suited to this application as the silent EV running up to 87mph enhances the comfort and tranquillity of the standard car. Both short- and long-wheelbase versions are available, with the latter reducing electric range from 34 to 31 miles. Neat features such as sat-nav that’s integrated with the drivetrain allow the hybrid system to best deploy either ICE or electric power to suit the roads and conditions.

X1 xDrive25e

Being based on BMW’s UKL2 front-wheel-drive platform means its entry-level SUV gets the same hybrid underpinnings as 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 is 217bhp, while a full charge of the 8.8kWh battery will carry you around 31 miles. Careful packaging means the PHEV X1 retains the same 450-litre boot as the ICE car, making it a decently practical choice. It’s also good to drive, feeling pretty much as nimble and precise as the standard car, while frequent charging of the lithium ion cells delivers a claimed 156.9mpg

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X2 xDrive25e

If you like the idea of an X1 but want less interior space and fancy paying around £2000 more for the privilege, then the coupé-inspired X2 could be for you. It uses the same engine and motor combination as its higher-riding and more practical sibling, and as such an identical power output and driving experience, which in fairness is fairly engaging and agile for a crossover. And in its defence, the slightly sleeker X2 uses its aerodynamic advantage to good effect, eking an extra mile of all-electric range out of its 8.8kWh battery, meaning 32 miles between charges.

X3 xDrive30e

The 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 11% company car benefit-in-kind tax that will interest most potential owners.

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X5 xDrive45e

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

C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid

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.

Cupra

Leon eHybrid

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.

Formentor eHybrid

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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.

DS

DS 7 Crossback E-Tense

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.

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DS 9 E-Tense

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.

Ferrari

SF90 Stradale

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.

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Ford

Kuga PHEV

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.

Tourneo Custom PHEV

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; 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.

Hyundai

Tucson

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.

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Santa Fe

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to a plug-in-powered Hyundai. Yes, the Santa Fe is large and stands out from the crowd, while 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. Yet the 261bhp petrol-electric powertrain is a little overwhelmed by the SUV’s height and heft, the 90bhp motor feeling sluggish on its own with the ICE getting thrashy when it chimes in with assistance. Crucially, with prices rising north of £50,000, the Hyundai is outshone by talented premium rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

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.

Jaguar

E-Pace P300e

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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 a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine and a rear-axle-mounted electric motor that deliver a total output of 305bhp. Its EV range is a claimed 34 miles, but you can’t help feeling that with a 15.5kWh battery, it could be better (blame the two-tonne kerb weight). It’s not cheap, but the quick, composed and comfortable Jag is a characterful choice.

F-Pace P400e

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.

Kia

Niro PHEV

One of the UK’s most popular PHEV models, the Niro is cost-effective to buy and run, practical and covered by a seven-year warranty. It’s not the most exciting to drive but, firm ride aside, it steers accurately and the light controls make it painless to use day to day. With a 49-litre reduction, boot space suffers compared with the standard hybrid, but it’s still a spacious and versatile interior. An EV range of 36 miles is fairly good and the motor delivers decent response around town, but when the 1.6-litre petrol engine does spring into life, it's a rather gruff presence. For company car users, the low CO2 emissions of 29g/km make it a no-brainer, but for private buyers the £4000 premium over the hybrid will take some justifying.

Xceed PHEV

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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.

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 Santa Fe’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.

Land Rover

Discovery Sport P300e

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 engine and rear-mounted electric motor working in real harmony to deliver smooth and muscular progress, while the 15.0kWh battery claims an excellent 43 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.

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Defender P400e

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.

Range Rover Evoque P300e

Given its urbane image and predominantly 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 38 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.

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Range Rover Sport P400e

The most dynamic large Range Rover now gets the latest iteration of the firm’s plug-in hybrid underpinnings, which means turbocharged four-cylinder petrol mated to gearbox-mounted electric motor to deliver a healthy 399bhp - making it the second-most-powerful model behind the bellowing SVR. The battery is relatively small at 13.1kWh, but its position beneath the boot floor means no third-row seats - and an EV range of 25 miles. Still, the system is well integrated and delivers strong performance, plus the financial savings are there if it fits in with your life.

Range Rover Velar P400e

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.

Range Rover P400e

In many respects, the plug-and-play version of the Range Rover merely exists to help Land Rover lower its overall CO2 emissions. Using the same P400e petrol-electric drivetrain as the Velar and Sport, it’s capable enough and there’s no denying its 25 miles of near-silent electric range makes lots of sense as you waft around town. But if you want and can afford a Range Rover, then you’re not going to worry too much about he cost savings but will want to revel in the deep-chested torque reserves of the diesel or, more likely, the comforting woofle and conspicuous consumption of the glorious supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol.

Mercedes-Benz

A250e

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.

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B250e

Compact MPVs aren’t the showroom stars they once were, but Mercedes desire to plug 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; and 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).

CLA 250e Shooting Brake

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.

E300e

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, 30 miles of all-electric running and an 11% 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.

E300de

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 11%, but the diesel claims a remarkable 217.3mpg. It’s also available as an estate as well as a saloon.

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S580e L

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.

GLA 250e

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.

GLC 300e

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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.

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 11% for BIK.

GLE 350de

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.

MG

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HS PHEV

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 11% 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.

Mini

Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

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.

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Mitsubishi

Outlander PHEV

Once the UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, the Outlander stole a march on rivals with its low running costs, SUV versatility and attractive, post-government grant price tag. The removal of that incentive for PHEVs, a raft of new rivals and Mitsubishi’s planned withdrawal from the UK at the end of 2021 have undermined its previous sales star, yet it soldiers on for now. A range extender, it uses the 2.4-litre petrol engine as a generator, only linking it to the road wheels at higher speeds. The result is smooth, EV-like acceleration and 28 miles of electric range. It’s underwhelming to drive and the interior looks and feels a bit cheap, but it’s roomy, well equipped and undercuts similarly sized rivals on price.

Peugeot

308 Hybrid

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 engine and electric motor to deliver either 177bhp or 221bhp, depending on the model. The EV range from the 12.4kWh battery is a respectable 34 miles on hatchbacks (there’s also a very sleek SW estate) and CO2 emissions are as low as 25g/km. 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.

3008 Hybrid

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.

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508 Hybrid

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.

Polestar

Polestar 1

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.

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Porsche

Panamera

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 4E-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.

Cayenne

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.

Renault

Captur E-Tech PHEV

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.

Mégane E-Tech PHEV

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The recently refreshed Mégane has been given the plug-in treatment in both hatchback and load-lugging Sport Tourer guise. It’s the same 158bhp unit found in the Captur and works with similar efficiency and smoothness most of the time. Its 30-mile EV range is particularly relaxing around town, although it’s not far enough to drop it lower than the 11% BIK band. It’s a comfortable and stylish machine with decent on-board technology, but despite the updates, there’s a sense that even in PHEV guise, the C-segment family hatch market is slipping away from Renault.

Skoda

Octavia iV

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 lowest BIK band and the smooth and relaxed power delivery suiting the Octavia’s easy-going nature.

Superb iV

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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.

Suzuki

Across

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.

Toyota

Prius

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.

RAV4

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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.

Vauxhall

Grandland Hybrid

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.

Volkswagen

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Golf eHybrid

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.

Passat GTE

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, with its refined and seamless operation a real highlight. Its 13kWh battery allows it to travel a claimed 40 miles in EV mode at speeds of up to 87mph, while, as in all Volkswagen PHEVs, 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 rival BMW 330e.

Arteon eHybrid

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.

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Tiguan eHybrid

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.

Touareg R eHybrid

Unusually, Volkswagen decided to give the plug-in version of its largest off-roader the full R treatment, which given the brilliance of cars such as the Golf R raises expectations somewhat. On paper it looks good, with a Porsche-donated 3.0-litre V6 and 134bhp electric motor for a total output of 456bhp, while the exterior is bedecked with all the usual R calling cards. Yet the electric range is a disappointing 28 miles, while the suspension is standard Tourag fare so, extra performance aside, it drives like the standard car. It’s comfy in an air-suspended way and agile for such a big car, but it doesn’t feel sporty or special. For most the cheaper diesels will make more sense.

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Volvo

S60 Recharge

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 Öhlins suspension for a sharper drive, but the stiff set-up is at odds with the saloon's laidback character. All visions get the twin-charged 2.0-litre engine and 143bhp electric motor, which combine for an impressive 445bhp. 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 (7%) BIK tax 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 salon with a difference.

V60 Recharge

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.

S90 Recharge

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.

V90 Recharge

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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.

XC40 Recharge

The all-electric P8 Recharge 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.

XC60 Recharge

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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.

XC90 Recharge

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 SUV that’s packed with neat features - for instance, unlike most rivals, even in plug-in guise, the XC90 retains its handy seven-seat layout. Like othe Volvo models, the XC90 now has the larger 18.8kWh battery, which means the 445bhp T8 Recharge 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 (7%) BIK bracket, helping business users save a packet.

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