Best used plug-in hybrid cars

If your budget doesn’t stretch to a brand-new car, then a used plug-in hybrid might be your best bet

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars are a brilliant prospect if you frequently find yourself travelling short distances: think of journeys like the school run, the weekly shop and the like.

Provided that you can plug in and charge your PHEV regularly, you'll be able to do these trips without using any petrol or diesel at all, instead relying on much cheaper electricity to do the vast majority of your driving.

And on the occasions you need to travel further afield, there’s still the convenience and range provided by a conventional fuel tank to fall back on.

While this technology could slash running costs for some, there’s no getting away from the fact that – for now at least – it costs more than simpler petrol and diesel cars.

That’s where the secondhand market comes in. Buying a used plug-in hybrid will give you all of the advantages listed above, but the purchase price should be significantly reduced, bringing all sorts of options on the table for those unable to stretch to a brand-new car.

Below are some of our favourite plug-in hybrid cars appearing in used-car listings right now…

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In hasn’t been around all that long (few PHEVs have, after all), but low-mileage examples are already appearing on the used market. Powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, the Ioniq Plug-In produces 139bhp and will do 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, while CO2 emissions come in at 26g/km. ‘Official’ fuel economy stands at 257mpg, but getting anywhere near this depends on how much you use the battery, which will give you up to 39 miles of electric-only range. Used 68-plate Ioniq Plug-Ins have already dipped below £22,000 in some cases, while 2017 versions are cheaper still.

Porsche Panamera S E Hybrid

If you’re prepared to take on a car with a relatively high mileage, you could do a lot worse than the Porsche Panamera S E Hybrid. Well used models from circa 2014 – having seen 70,000 miles and beyond – are on the market now for £30,000-£40,000. For that, you get official economy of over 90mpg and up to 22 miles of electric range, but it’s the performance that really justifies the outlay. The 3.0-litre engine and electric motor generate 416bhp, and 0-60mph takes just 5.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 167mph. That’s GT car territory.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most popular cars on sale in the UK, and the plug-in hybrid GTE version extends its appeal even further. Golf GTEs from 2015 deliver 148bhp and 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, with an 8.7kWh battery returning up to 25 miles of pure electric range. Models with 40,000-50,000 miles on the odometer cost in the region of £15,000, well under half the original value.

Toyota Prius Plug-In

First hitting our roads in 2012, the Toyota Prius Plug-In is one of the oldest PHEVs you can buy. This is good news for buyers on the secondhand market, as depreciation has had time to bring the value of early cars down to really affordable levels. Depending on age and mileage, £10,000-£15,000 is a realistic figure to pay, and for that money you’ll get a practical family hatchback capable of up to 15 miles of zero-emissions electric driving.

Mercedes C-Class

The Mercedes C-Class is another of the UK’s most popular cars, yet the plug-in hybrid C350e model isn’t as talked-about as its petrol and diesel siblings. Perhaps it’ll gain more favour on the secondhand market: 2015 editions of the 350e will do up to 19 miles on electric power, and with a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds, they’re reasonably sprightly, too. Around £15,000-£20,000 seems to be the going rate for the cheapest of these cars right now, which isn’t bad given what the C-Class has to offer.

BMW 330e

Alternatively there’s the BMW 330e. A new one is on the way following the original car’s discontinuation, but BMW’s first attempt still has something to offer. Generally cheaper than the most affordable used C-Class PHEVs, 2016 editions of the 330e can do 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds and will officially return 146.7mpg. A 7.6kWh battery is good for a maximum of 23 miles of electric range, and it can be charged from the mains in under four hours.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the first plug-in hybrid SUV to go on sale, and as such its early models have had longer to depreciate than most. You can now buy a used Outlander PHEV on a 15 plate for as little as £10,000; these will do 0-62mph in 11 seconds and return 42g/km CO2 emissions. This is well under the threshold of 75g/km to qualify for exemption from the London Congestion Charge.

Audi A3 e-tron

If it’s a hatchback you’re after, the Audi A3 e-tron is another good PHEV to consider. Some 2015 models can now be bought for around £15,000, and they combine decent practicality and performance with the desirability of the Audi badge. Around 30 miles of electric range from the 8.8kWh battery is up there with some of the newest models on the market, while the 1.4-litre engine and electric motor will get you about with little fuss.

Volvo V60 Twin Engine

It isn’t often that plug-in hybrids feature a diesel engine, but the first generation of the Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine is just such a car. Most 2015 examples now fetch an asking price of £15,000-£20,000, and for that you get up to 31 miles of electric range and a 2.4-litre engine capable of 215bhp in conjunction with the car’s electric motor. The 11kWh battery eats into boot capacity somewhat: conventionally-fuelled V60s of this generation have 430 litres of boot space, while this PHEV makes do with 305 litres with the rear seats in place.

Volkswagen Passat GTE

The Volkswagen Passat GTE hasn’t been on the scene as long as the Golf GTE, so prices haven’t had as long to recede from the original value: you’ll be hard-pressed to secure one for less than £25,000 at the moment, although they’ll dip below that threshold sooner or later. The 2017 examples of the Passat GTE use a 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor to produce 154bhp, while fuel economy is listed as 156.9mpg. As ever, you’ll struggle to achieve that in the real world, but a 9.9kWh battery returning up to 31 miles of electric range means zero-emissions driving is realistic on most short journeys.