Best One: Kia Niro Plugin Hybrid

The thing is, that if we’re all going to give up our petrol and diesel engines, and go electric, we need bridging technology. Something to get us over the hump between now and the distant future when we’re all spinning around burning nothing but electrons. The Kia Niro Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is that bridging technology, and it’s the most effective and simple plugin hybrid we’ve yet tried. Some other plugins fall apart when asked to tackle a long motorway journey, but the Niro chugs along happily in the outside lane, returning 65mpg on one long two-hour slog in our hands. That’s aircon going and the cruise set to 120km/h by the way. Around town, as long as you remember to keep it plugged in, you can easily get 40km from just the batteries, meaning that you could potentially get from one end of the week to t’other without using any petrol at all. On some half-charge runs, of around 30-odd-km, we saw better than 100mpg. So, it works. Plus the Niro looks pretty decent (nice mix of estate and crossover) is reasonably practical, well equipped, and if not exciting then at least perfectly pleasant to drive. The future’s not here, but the thing that gets us to the future is.

Best model: Niro Plugin Hybrid for €35,995 Price range: €29,095 to €35,995. Finance from €366 per month. Co2 emissions: 29 to 88g/km Sum up: As long as you can plug it in plenty, the Niro is the best of the new breed of PHEVs

Worthy Contenders

Toyota Prius

You do have to get past the Prius’ styling. Some people actually love the Manga Fish-Man looks of the Prius, but for most of us it’s a bit of a challenge. It’s one worth tackling though, because underneath this is the best Prius that Toyota has ever made. Its hybrid system sticks with old-fashioned nickel batteries, and a CVT gearbox (most competitors have moved on to dual-clutch systems and lithium-ion batteries) but Toyota has squeezed every last drop of efficiency out of its systems and the result is truly impressive economy wherever you drive. While motorway journeys used to be the old Prius’ Achilles Heel, now the new model easily tops 60mpg on such runs. And can top 75mpg around town, plus you’ll spend a surprising amount of urban time on just the batteries. The cabin is roomy, comfortable, and really nicely put together, and with the largely silent powertrain, the Prius is exceptionally relaxing to drive. It really has come of age. Plugin version looks slightly nicer and is seriously economical for city users.



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