Best Motability hybrid cars
The Motability scheme helps disabled people or those with reduced mobility to get into a new car, offering a range of practical and comfortable choices with reasonable running costs. The scheme works by diverting certain benefits into monthly payments for one of these pre-approved models.
Thankfully, there are a number of electrified models on the scheme, with both plug-in and standard hybrids available. We’ve rounded up the best choices, the vast majority of which offer great practicality and larger boots suitable for carrying a wheelchair or other equipment.
If you live in an urban area and do most of your motoring over shorter distances, one of the plug-in hybrid options featured below is worth a look; if longer journeys are more common, it may be worth looking at a traditional hybrid.
Read on for a run-down of our favourite hybrid cars to feature on the Motability scheme:
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is a direct and capable rival to the Toyota Prius that’s available in three formats: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric. It’s the first (and least expensive) of these that’s offered on the government’s Motability scheme.
The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is powered by a combination of a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 43bhp electric motor. A 1.56kWh battery means the car can’t go very far on electric power alone. The car will happily travel at up to around 30-40mph on electric power, but sharper throttle inputs or inclines will see the petrol engine kick in to assist. It takes over completely at higher speeds; the changes between these modes are well hidden, especially if you drive smoothly. If you’re a keener driver, the Ioniq’s dual-clutch gearbox makes a much better companion than the CVT in the Toyota Prius, offering more conventional control over the engine.
Elsewhere, the Ioniq Hybrid is a practical, comfortable and very well built car that'll easily stand up to everyday family use. It’s a relaxing car to drive both around town or on the motorway, all while returning reasonable fuel economy and emissions: Hyundai quotes a figure of 83.1mpg, but in reality an average of around 47mpg is more likely. Economy varies wildly depending on use; heavy motorway work will see the average drop, while short-distance, slow-speed driving will use no fuel at all if you're careful with your right foot. CO2 emissions of 79g/km mean the car just misses out on London Congestion Charge exemption, though.
Closely related to the Hyundai Ioniq above is the Kia Niro. Using the same 1.6-litre petrol-electric drivetrain, but in a larger and more practical SUV body, the Niro offers a balance of economy, performance and practicality. You’ll find it hard not to be impressed by the Niro’s interior space for passengers and luggage, while build quality is great and there’s decent standard equipment. We’d pick the 2 versions (trims range from 1 to 4), which has an easy-to-use infotainment system with sat nav, a reversing camera and a seven-inch touchscreen, plus automatic wipers, powered and heated mirrors and parking sensors.
Entry-level cars with smaller wheels are the most efficient, with quoted figures of 74.3mpg and 88g/km CO2 emissions. Power is the same as the Hyundai Ioniq, at 139bhp, while performance is adequate if not electrifying, which is no surprise given the larger Niro is heavier than the Hyundai. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.8 seconds and top speed is 115mph, but there’s enough torque for it not to feel slow. As one of the most practical and reliable cars on this list, the Niro is a great choice.
MINI Countryman Cooper S E All4
A stylish take on the plug-in hybrid theme, the Countryman Cooper S E All4 is a four-wheel-drive SUV with MINI’s trademark retro styling and a focus on driving fun. It’s powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a rear-mounted electric motor, which together produce 221bhp – enough for a swift 0-62mph sprint of 6.8 seconds and a 123mph top speed. Going for the smallest 17-inch wheels keeps emissions down and economy up: 49g/km of CO2 and a combined MPG figure of 134.5mpg are claimed, although as with all PHEVs, you won’t get close to that figure in most normal driving.
All-electric range from a full charge is quoted as 26 miles, which should be enough for round-town shopping and short commutes. If you plan on using all of the performance of what's a fun-to-drive SUV, though, economy will drop significantly.
The Countryman is quirkily styled and well appointed inside and out, with the interior being particularly impressive with its circular instrument pod (with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen), comfortable seats and great build quality. Practicality is good, too, with a 405-litre boot, 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats and plenty of head and legroom for passengers. Four-wheel drive should come in handy in adverse weather or on country tracks.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was one of the pioneers of the plug-in hybrid SUV trend. The latest version continues to be a sound choice thanks to its combination of practicality, comfort and performance. Power comes from a 2.4-litre petrol engine working alongside two electric motors and a 13.8kWh battery. Low running costs are a large part of this SUV’s appeal, especially if you do the bulk of your driving over shorter distances: 139mpg is claimed along with an all-electric range of up to 28 miles, while CO2 emissions are 49g/km.
The Outlander PHEV’s battery can be fully charged from a domestic socket in four hours, or to 80% capacity in just 25 minutes – perfect for shopping trips or commuting if charging facilities are available. If you’re forced to bring the petrol engine into play, an average of not much more than 50mpg should be expected in mixed driving. An option to switch between 'series' and 'parallel' hybrid power lets you decide exactly how and when the car’s electric motor is called into play.
There’s no seven-seat option as in the standard Outlander, but that leaves room for a 463-litre boot. The interior is spacious and comfortable, if not especially pleasant, but it suits the pragmatic character of the largest hybrid SUV available on the Motability scheme.
Toyota Auris Hybrid hatchback
Toyota is probably the biggest producer of hybrid cars in the world, so it’s no surprise its models make up the bulk of this list. The Auris Hybrid is an economical, reliable and relatively practical ‘self-charging hybrid’ that’s a perfect size for smaller families – think Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. The car uses a 1.8-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to return good fuel economy (78.5mpg is claimed), low emissions (82g/km of CO2) and a comfortable driving experience.
The Auris Hybrid is as well built, as you’d expect from Toyota, but it’s not particularly exciting to behold inside or out. All of the details and technology on offer are up-to-date; go for mid-range Icon Tech or Design trim to get the best specification, including a central seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and DAB radio.
The Auris isn’t the most exciting car on this list, but it is reliable, practical and easy to drive. If you like the idea, but need more space, there’s always the Toyota Auris Hybrid Touring Sports below.
Toyota Auris Hybrid Touring Sports estate
The Auris Hybrid Touring Sports is the estate version of the Auris Hybrid. It offers the same combination of a 134bhp petrol-electric drivetrain, great build, practical specification and a focus on economy and comfort, but adds a larger boot.
The standard Auris Hybrid has a 337-litre boot (the same as the non-hybrid model) which expands to 1,176 litres with the seats folded down; the Touring Sports increases this to 507 litres, or 1,635 with the seats folded. This makes it the best choice on this list if load space is paramount.
It’s business as usual in all other respects – all of the points above regarding the standard Auris apply here.
Toyota C-HR Hybrid
Toyota’s tried-and-tested 1.8-litre petrol-electric drivetrain is used in the C-HR, a stylish SUV that’ll suit those who value a high driving position and a sharp driving experience. Despite its chunky looks, there’s no four-wheel drive (you’ll have to ditch hybrid power for that), but what you do get is a claimed economy figure of 74.3mpg, a 0-62mph time of 11 seconds and remarkably sharp handling for a car of this type. The C-HR is well built, refined, rides well and does particularly well on the motorway, as well as proving genuine good fun on a twistier road.
However in reality, the C-HR’s bold looks are what's most likely to make you choose it over the other cars here. Doing so means you make sacrifices when it comes to practicality, but not unduly large ones. There’s good space in the rear despite the sloping roofline, although anyone over six feet tall may struggle. Similarly, the boot measures 377 litres, which is somewhere on the smaller side for a car of this type.
If you don’t mind sacrificing a little practicality for funky looks, the CH-R is a great small hybrid SUV that’ll be more fun to live with than many of the other cars here.
Toyota Prius Plug-In
The original and still one of the very best of the breed, the latest Toyota Prius offers a great combination of comfort and economy. While both the standard hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions feature on the Motability scheme, it’s the latter we’re focusing on here.
It’s powered by the same 1.8-litre engine as other Toyota hybrids, which with the help of two electric motors produces a top speed of 120mph and a 0-62mph time of 11.1 seconds. There’s an 8.8kWh battery that gives a range of up to 39 miles on electric power, which helps the Prius return a remarkable 235mpg. In fact, if you only travel over shorter distances and regularly top-up the car’s battery by plugging in, it's possible not to use any petrol at all. Longer journeys making more use of the car’s engine will see economy drop to around 50-60mpg. Official CO2 emissions of 22g/km are the best on this list, meaning an exemption from the London Congestion Charge.
Around town is where the Prius Plug-In feels most at home, thanks to the low-down power offered by the electric motors and its supple suspension. The Plug-In works well at higher speeds, too; refinement is good and handling is fine despite the extra weight compared to the non-plug-in model, although the petrol engine can sound harsh under hard acceleration.
Elsewhere, the car’s four-seat layout and 360-litre boot mean practicality isn’t the best on this list, but it's still one of the best choices in most other respects if you can live with that compromise.