New hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars 2021
For many years, the Toyota Prius was pretty much the only hybrid car the man or woman on the street could mention and the technology was seen as a niche alternative to diesel when it came to reducing running costs and emissions. But in the last five years or so, hybrid technology has taken over the automotive world as consumers demand cleaner and cheaper-to-run cars, and governments impose ever-stricter limits on how much CO2 they can emit.
Recent changes to the UK's company-car tax system stack the deck heavily in favour of plug-in hybrids especially; with so many new-car sales driven by this sector, it's no surprise to see almost every car brand scrambling to offer this technology in multiple models. Lots of new hybrids have debuted or are scheduled to debut in 2020 and the growth will continue in 2021, as our list below reveals…
DS 4 Crossback E-TENSE
DS is part of the PSA Group and so shares engine technology with Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall. That has seen it launch the fully electric DS 3 Crossback and plug-in hybrid DS 7 Crossback in the past year, and a smaller plug-in hybrid is now on the way for 2021. The DS 4 Crossback name was last used on an SUV version of the Citroen-derived DS 4 hatchback from 2015 to 2018 but will now be worn by a wholly new model. DS' premium brand positioning means the new DS 4 will be aimed at rivals like the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA and Volvo XC40. Indications were that the new DS would be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September 2020 ahead of sales beginning in 2021, but with that event no longer going ahead in its original form, it's unclear if the launch timeline will be affected.
Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid
Hyundai has offered plug-in hybrid technology in its Ioniq hatchback for several years now, and the South Korean brand is now preparing to offer the technology in the next generation of its popular Tucson family SUV. It's set to rival already-on-sale models like the Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid and Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid. We haven't seen any images of the new Tucson itself just yet, but at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai revealed the Vision T concept (pictured above) which it says hints at the model's design. In common with the Ioniq hatchback and smaller Kona SUV, the new Tucson could be offered with a variety of different powertrains, including internal-combustion, hybrid, electric and even hydrogen fuel-cell.
Jaguar E-Pace plug-in hybrid
Jaguar and its sister brand Land Rover were initially slow to offer electrified versions of some of their most popular models, but now that the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque are going plug-in, Jaguar's SUVs are getting in on the trend, too. The E-Pace was launched in 2018 but is set to move to a new mechanical platform for its 2021 refresh, allowing use of the mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid engine technology already seen in the models mentioned above.
Land Rover Defender plug-in hybrid
It has been many years in the making, but the all-new Land Rover Defender arrived at last in 2020 and has been very well received. It's currently available with petrol, diesel and mild-hybrid power, but a plug-in hybrid version is also on the horizon; we expect it to appear before the end of 2020, with deliveries happening in 2021. What's not clear yet is which engine it'll use: the 1.5-litre seen in the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport plug-ins is a possibility, as is the larger 2.0-litre unit employed in larger Range Rover PHEV models. A price tag of around £60,000 is likely.
Mercedes-AMG GT 73 EQ Power+
While supercar manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have for several years been making use of hybrid systems to boost the performance of their fastest models, the technology has yet to make a significant impact on the 'supersaloon' market – with the exception of Porsche's Panamera hybrids. That's all about the change, however, as German powerhouse Mercedes-AMG is working on a plug-in hybrid version of its four-door GT model. Expected to carry the 'Mercedes-AMG GT 73 EQ Power+' badge, the model was teased very briefly in an official AMG video clip at the end of 2019 and has since been photographed undergoing cold-weather testing under light camouflage (above). A staggering power output of nearly 800bhp is anticipated, which could make for a sub-three-second 0-60mph time.
Mercedes S-Class plug-in hybrid
The current Mercedes S-Class luxury saloon is available in S 560 e plug-in hybrid form and the next generation of the model is expected to offer the technology as well. An official teaser image of the car's headlight has been released, but there are no exact technical details on the new S-Class plug-in hybrid yet. It can reasonably be expected to improve on the current version's CO2 emissions and circa-25-mile pure-electric range figures. In tandem with the plug-in-hybrid S-Class, Mercedes is also developing a fully electric high-end saloon, badged EQS, to rival the forthcoming electric BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was one of the earliest plug-in hybrid models offered for sale in the UK, debuting in 2013, with its maker has reaping the rewards of getting in early since then thanks to strong sales. The Outlander has received several small updates during its time on sale but is now getting long in the tooth; attention is turning to its replacement, expected to arrive at some point in 2021. A 2019 Geneva Motor Show concept, the Engelberg Tourer (above), was said to showcase the future of Mitsubishi SUVs and their plug-in hybrid technology, although it's not thought likely that its over-the-top styling will be reflected in a future production model. It did feature a larger battery – and thus a longer electric range – than the current car, hinting at where improvement will be made in the next Outlander.
A hybrid Nissan Qashqai has yet to be officially announced, but Nissan's 'e-Power' hybrid technology is coming to Europe and the company's most popular model is an obvious candidate to use it. The 2019 IMQ Concept (pictured above) gave us a hint as to what a next-generation hybrid Qashqai could be like, with a 1.5-litre petrol engine charging a battery, which in turns feeds power to electric motors driving the wheels. Nissan claimed a power output of 335bhp for the concept, as well as significantly reduced CO2 emissions compared to a regular petrol-engined car.
Range Rover PHEV and Range Rover Sport PHEV
Land Rover has been selling plug-in hybrid versions of both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport for several years now, but with an all-new generation of the British brand's flagship model on the way, updated electrified models are in the pipeline, too. While a fully electric Range Rover for 2022 is now a prospect, the petrol-electric combination should continue to be offered as well, arriving at or soon after the new generation's launch in 2021.
The Highlander name has appeared on Toyota SUV models in various markets around the world but hasn't appeared in the UK and Europe so far. Now, the Japanese brand has announced its current Highlander – a seven-seat SUV that's larger than the RAV4 – will be offered in the UK from 2021. It'll use Toyota's familiar "self-charging" hybrid technology, combining a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a 241bhp output, 146g/km CO2 emissions and fuel economy of just under 43mpg. Until now, if you wanted a seven-seat Toyota SUV in the UK, your only choice was the somewhat agricultural Land Cruiser, but the Highlander gives Toyota a contender against rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Tarraco, Peugeot 5008 and Hyundai Santa Fe.
Volkswagen Tiguan GTE
Volkswagen's Golf GTE and Passat GTE were early pioneers of plug-in hybrid technology and both have now spawned second generations. But with many consumers continuing to favour SUVs over hatchbacks, saloons and estates, it was never going to be long before VW looked at adding plug-in power to its big-selling Tiguan model. In April 2020, it confirmed a Tiguan GTE would appear before the end of year, with deliveries to customers taking place in the early part of 2021. The company's head of product marketing Dr. Hendrik Muth says it will "bring the latest technology" to the SUV range, while offering the ability to be "fully electric for more than 50 kilometres (31 miles)".