Best hybrid estate cars 2021
Need a big, practical car that will make your money go further? Check our our list of the best hybrid estates
Traditionally, car manufacturers have targeted business buyers with saloon cars, and in recent years have been chasing rock-bottom company-car tax with plug-in hybrid models. Yet a saloon doesn't work for everyone, so a practical hybrid estate car could be the perfect solution.
While the SUVs are a more popular type of car these days and there are plenty of hybrid models there, many prefer a more practical model that doesn't have as much of a 'look-at-me' image. Estate cars are generally as practical as an equivalent SUV, but with lower running costs and better handling and ride quality because of their lower weight.
Hybrid cars combine an internal-combustion engine with a battery and electric motors. This kind of car has become incredibly popular in more recent years because of changes to the company car tax system to promote the use of cars that pollute less.
There are three types of hybrid estate car. The first is the ‘mild’ hybrid, which usually uses a 48-volt electrical system to improve performance and lower running costs by lessening stress on the engine when accelerating or pulling away from a standstill. More and more cars are using this technology, but we’ll steer clear of listing them here. This is because it's as mild as the name suggests; it doesn't affect the normal driving of the car in any meaningful way, it's just a small way to reduce the car's emissions in official tests.
The next is the ‘full’ hybrid. Cars like the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports use a a small battery that’s charged either by the engine or via regenerative braking, offering a fairly short electric-only driving range. The benefit here can be significantly reduced running costs – especially if you spend a lot of your time in stop-start traffic or driving around town.
Meanwhile, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) tend to have much larger batteries, and so can complete a modest commute without using petrol or diesel at all. Most of the cars in this list – including the Skoda Superb iV Estate and the Volvo V90 Recharge – are plug-in hybrids. These also make use of regenerative braking and (occasionally) harvest electrical energy from the engine, although they're at their most efficient and cost-effective when charged using a cable. In the absence of many electric estate cars to choose from, plug-in hybrids are the next best thing.
Interested to find out more? Below we've put together a list of the best hybrid estate cars you can buy…
Audi A6 TFSI e Avant
Audi launched its hybrid A6 saloon in 2019, along with a plethora of other plug-in hybrid models including electrified versions of the A7, Q5 and A8. Now, the manufacturer has announced the A6 TFSI e Avant – an estate version of the plug-in hybrid A6 saloon.
It uses the same basic setup, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired to an electric motor and 14.1kWh battery. Total power output is 362bhp, with Audi claiming CO2 emissions of between 44 and 48g/km and a pure-electric range of just under 32 miles.
While the boot is obviously bigger and more practical than that of the hybrid A6 saloon’s, it’s smaller than you’ll find in the normal petrol or diesel A6 Avant. That’s because the batteries take up so much space; the standard car’s 565-litre load bay shrinks to 405 litres, while folding the seats flat results in a total volume of 1,535 litres. Read the latest here.
BMW 330e Touring
BMW has added a Touring estate version (as well as the option of xDrive four-wheel drive) to its 330e plug-in hybrid line-up. We haven't driven the Touring yet, but based on BMW's track record, and our impressions of the four-door saloon version, it should be a winner.
Potential buyers can expect a familiar blend of driver-pleasing handling, slick infotainment and super-low running costs – as well as an electric-only driving range of 34 miles. Boot space is compromised slightly, although the 1,420-litre load bay should be big enough for most families. Read the latest here.
Kia Ceed Sportswagon PHEV
The Kia Ceed Sportswagon hybrid estate is on the expensive side considering it's not based on a premium model (like the 3 Series above, for example), but on a normal family hatchback. However it's worth considering as a company car, because it's cheap to tax, efficient and good to drive.
The Ceed Sportswagon has a 437-litre boot, which opens up to 1,506 litres with the rear seats folded down, so it's also really practical and works well as a family car. It has lots of standard equipment too, and when driving in electric-only mode it's really quiet and relaxing.
It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor for a total power output of 139bhp, and the 8.9kWh battery allows for an all-electric range of 29 miles, which should be enough for the daily commute. Read our full review here.
Mercedes E 300 de Estate
Mercedes' E-Class plug-in hybrid is offered with either a petrol or diesel engine in four-door saloon form, but for the more practical estate, it's diesel-electric power only.
As with the saloon, boot capacity suffers somewhat due to a large box-shaped intrusion housing the hybrid system's batteries, but in all other respects this is a very fine car, offering excellent passenger comfort, smooth and strong power delivery in either electric or hybrid mode and that timelessly classy Mercedes image. Read our full review here.
Peugeot 508 SW Hybrid
If you need a practical plug-in hybrid but can't accept any compromise in style, the Peugeot 508 SW should be top of your list. With bold, modern look and compact-executive aspirations, the 508 is a great alternative to more mainstream options here.
Power comes from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor which together produce 222bhp, while the 11.8kWh allows for up to 39 miles of pure-electric running. The Skoda below is ultimately the more practical car, but there's still lots to like about the comfortable, refined and stylish Peugeot. Read our full review here.
Skoda Superb iV Estate
Skoda has long been renowned for offering great value for money, and the latest plug-in hybrid Superb Estate certainly does well in the 'bang for your buck' department.
You get the voluminous passenger and luggage space that all Superb models are famous for, along with generous standard equipment and the ultra-low running costs brought by the VW Group's 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol-electric drivetrain. It's a fantastic all-rounder and one we’d recommend in an instant. Read our full review here.
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
If you don’t have the ability to plug your car in overnight, then a conventional hybrid model like the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid estate might be the perfect alternative to a PHEV.
Priced from just over £25,000, the Corolla will comfortably surpass 60mpg on the motorway and – depending on which engine you go for – provide close to 600 litres of boot space. Inside, it has been finished to a high standard, and it’s easy to find a good driving position as the steering wheel can be adjusted back and forth as well as up and down.
You can even get a toughened-up Trek version (pictured), complete with a raised ride height and plastic cladding. Read our full review here.
Volvo V60 Recharge
The Volvo V60 is available with a choice of plug-in hybrid powertrains. The standard T6 offers more than enough for most, but for those after something even faster and sportier, the T8 Polestar Engineered boasts almost 400bhp, as well as manually adjustable Ohlins dampers. With a 10.4kWh battery, the V60 hybrid offers a zero-emissions range of around 30 miles on a single charge. For drivers who need a reasonably sized runabout most of the time with scope for the odd longer journey, the V60 is hard to fault.
Officially it’ll return 135mpg, although you’ll need to charge it regularly to get anything close to that figure. CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km also make it very clean on paper, which is a bonus if you’re an eco-conscious buyer. The styling also helps to make it an attractive vehicle, although you do pay a premium for it: you can’t get a V60 plug-in hybrid for less than £45,000. Read our full review here.
Volvo V90 Recharge
If the V60 above isn’t quite large enough for your needs, then there’s always the V90 Recharge plug-in hybrid instead. This larger estate comes with 728 litres of boot space, rising to 1,562 litres with the rear seats folded down; more than enough for carrying large items around, although the V90 isn’t quite a class leader in this department.
It has the same 10.4kWh battery as the V60, although it returns a little less electric range owing to its extra weight. The official fuel-economy figure is 112-141mpg, but after you’ve exhausted the electric-only range you’re more likely to see somewhere in the region of 30-35mpg from the 2.0-litre engine. Again it’s an excellent package from the Swedish manufacturer, provided you’ve got at least £55,000 to spend. Read our full review here.
Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
The Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate seems like the ultimate all-rounder: 34 miles of electric range will be enough for most daily commutes, while 483 litres of boot space will serve most families well enough, even on longer trips away. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is extremely smooth, too, so the Passat GTE should be a relaxing car to own.
Prices start from under £40,000, while fleet operators and user-choosers are likely to be drawn in by the prospect of CO2 emissions in the region of 33-35g/km – leading to very low company-car tax. As an overall package, there are few better options. Read our full review here.
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