What’s the best hybrid or BEV SUV available in the UK?

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At E-Car Test Drives we love to have a conversation with you our readers. On our LinkedIn page, someone asked us what the best hybrid SUV is as she’s considering buying one soon. Looking through the reviews of SUVs on the UK market today we have come up with nine battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hybrid SUVs – three hybrids in the higher price band, three in the economy price band and being an e-car website, we are going to show you what BEV SUVs you might consider in the next year or so…

What’s the difference between a hybrid and BEV?

Electric car technology is having billions of pounds of investment from nearly every car manufacturer as they realise that the death of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars is fast coming. For the immediate future, you will see a lot of ‘hybrids’ out there, cars that use both an electric motor and an ICE engine.

The future is coming fast though, with three BEV SUVs likely in the next 12 months. Since you can’t even put a deposit down on two of them as the order books haven’t been opened just yet, we will focus first on the hybrids of today before looking at the BEVs of tomorrow.

It is interesting to note that as ever, your best car might not be your most expensive. While we won’t look at the BMW X5 hybrid as it doesn’t meet the criteria for a top 3 SUV, the far cheaper BMW made Mini Cooper hybrid routinely gets better reviews than its supposedly better-appointed cousin.

Let’s start looking at the best hybrid SUVs on the market.

Premium priced hybrid SUVs

1. Volvo XC90 Twin Engine Hybrid £62,500 – £70,500

Widely recognised as the best hybrid SUV on the market today, it isn’t as saintly with regard fuel economy as claimed but that’s because it kicks butt at the lights! While definitely not a ‘Sport SUV’, its two power plants, a 2.0 litre and an electric powertrain can give you 400bhp of grunt when you want it. This means it will perform well when you’re chucking it around the country lanes or are feeling competitive on the suburbia lanes. The XC90 is a comfortable car and its well-appointed interior will be just right for your weekend charge to the Dorset house from London, or even when you take the family on a road trip across Europe in summer.

Rated at 49g of CO2 emissions per km, you won’t pay the London Congestion Charge. Though it is claimed to have an amazing 134.5mpg of fuel economy there’s no way you’ll reach this in normal driving – expect closer to 75mpg, which is still very impressive for such a large lump of car. Another point to consider is that it has a 25 mile battery only range, which for the hybrid SUVs on the market today isn’t bad at all. If you’re crawling along the A35 in the Bank Holiday traffic jam then you won’t be burning fuel as you do it for much of the solid mass from the M27…

2. Audi Q7 e-tron hybrid – £66,500

This is widely regarded as one of the best hybrid SUVs on the market, even better than the Porsche Cayenne we will look at shortly. Unlike the other hybrid SUVs on the market it doesn’t have seven seats owing to the battery compartment but you do get the best sized boot in class.

It has a (dirty) 3.0 litre diesel that combines with a 94kWh motor that gives a combined power of 368bhp. Here you’re getting lower real world fuel economy than the Volvo and not so good performance. Expect 70mpg out of it in real world driving. However, rated at 48g/km of CO2 you won’t pay the London Congestion Charge and for inner city driving on battery alone you can expect up to 34 miles electric only, or a distance roughly from the end of the M27 to the outskirts of Bournemouth in the creeping bank holiday traffic.

Being an Audi, you can expect one of the most comfortable cars in this class. The Germans know a thing or two about perfection! You will be wafted along in near silence in some of the most comfortable seats available, and still be relaxed even after a long slog on the road. For many drivers out there, the badge will sell the car – an Audi is an Audi after all and from badge to physical driving experience you will not be disappointed.

3. Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid £65,800 +

If you love driving more than you love the planet then among the best hybrid SUVs the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid is going to wipe the floor with most other hybrids at the lights but you will guzzle fuel by comparison to the more economical SUVs above. How green do you want to be? Enough to give you cachet at the golf club or have you a real conscience about CO2 wrecking the atmosphere for your children? How about having to stop less frequently for fuel than the other Cayennes out there? On a run to the French Riviera you’ll probably get there quicker for having to stop less often!

There’s no disputing a Porsche’s ability to thrill the driver. Their boffins know how to put a grin on your face. However, you do this at the expense of fuel – most of the other Cayennes on the market are very thirsty and you will be stopping for fuel far too often. This hasn’t stopped this Porsche SUV from regularly topping Porsche’s sales charts. The SE-Hybrid however isn’t so thirsty with an official rating of just over 80mpg and a realistic 45mpg. You will travel further on a tank than in a petrol or diesel Cayenne. This is where common sense trumps conscience – it is still a thoroughbred on the roads but you will have to stop at the petrol station less often.

The interiors are what you’d expect from a top end marque. A final point? You’ll still have to pay Congestion Charge in London…

Less expensive hybrid SUVs

Not everyone has sixty plus grand to chuck at a car. Hybrids cost a lot more than normal SUVs because of the cost of their complicated power trains. Even so it is possible to pay out around £30k – £45k and get a very nice hybrid SUV that won’t be hit by Congestion Charge or excessive fuel consumption. Sometimes it isn’t how thick your wad of cash is so much as how you use it…

1. Mini Countryman Cooper SE All 4 – £31,500 +

Reading around the reviews, if you want a reasonably priced yet comfortable SUV that will have just the odd sip of fuel as you go about your daily business, the Countryman Cooper SE ALL 4 will do just the job.

It is a BMW in all but badge and you can expect a great driving experience with a sub 7 second charge to 62 when you put your foot down. It is rated at 49g/km of CO2 so will get you into London without paying the Congestion Charge. It also has a range of around 25 miles on battery alone. Most Mini owners drive that distance on a typical day so you could well end up driving it as a BEV for most journeys, plugging it in when you get home at night.

Comfort-wise you will find it good for a longer run too, though not as luxuriously as you might if you spent double the initial price on a Volvo or Audi above. Being heavier than the other Countryman cars due to the electric drivetrain the suspension is a tad stiffer but you won’t have your bones rattled from it – the BMW boffins know a thing about balancing handling and comfort.

On the list of six hybrid SUVs we would put this car second above the Audi – well worth a look.

2. Kia Niro SUV – £23,000 – £30,500

In our list of hybrid SUVs this is possibly the best when it comes to economy. It is rated at 217.3mpg and has a battery only range rated at 36 miles. You don’t buy a Kia for the badge or for the comfort so expect a sensible car at a sensible price – a pair of Ugg Boots as opposed to Jimmy Choos!

If you want performance then look elsewhere. It will crawl up to 60 in just over 11 seconds and to compensate for the weight of the batteries you will feel the unusually stiff suspension.

It has dual zone climate control, DAB radio and LED running lights as standard. This makes for just the sort of family car that the kids won’t get too impatient in on a longer run to see their granny or perhaps on a run to the South of France.

Overall? A sensible choice for a sensible person. Nothing sexy here, but you won’t pay loads to keep it on the road.

3. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV – £34,000 – 46,000

This was one of the most popular PHEVs on the market due to good government tax incentives. Many of those have dried up now as the government is trying to encourage BEVs onto the road through taxation and this PHEV is nearing the end of its lifecycle in terms of being what the government would suggest as a good car. You used to get £5,000 off the ticket price from the government but that’s now £2,500. You used to pay £0 in road tax – that’s a lot more now and if you buy the top spec you will pay the penalty for a car of more than £40,000. Ultimately, once the best buy in terms of a PHEV, the sheen has worn off this car.

The interior is comfortable but nothing to write home about. It is well appointed inside (the more you pay the more you get obviously). It will get you into London without paying the Congestion Charge, and it is quite economical with a combined 166 mpg and rated at 41g/km of CO2. Most commuters don’t do more than a 20 mile trip so if you can plug it in at the other end and are in traffic both ways. You might not use petrol at all…

Overall? This was once a great choice. Now there are better.

BEV SUVs – the cars to look out for…

So we have looked at what hybrid SUVs there are on the market today. There’s one pure electric you should consider and two likely to be launched in 2018. The first is a Tesla!

1. Tesla Model X – buy now for £72,000

Driving a Tesla is like being teleported into the future as soon as you sit at the wheel. The Model X has had some mixed reviews – it isn’t as blow your socks off luxurious as the Porsche Cayenne above – but if you don’t want to burn any fossil fuel then this car will meet your needs.

The range is around 300 miles. That might be 10 commutes before you need to plug it in again. It can largely drive itself (though don’t take your hands off the wheel at 70mph to point this out to a policeman as it is illegal here). The ‘falcon wing’ rear doors will make your children’s friends jealous as they would if you turned up in a Lamborghini.

Teslas outperform most other ICE cars in their class too. If you’re thinking of forking out on a Volvo XC90 then stop! Get to a Tesla Store and try one of these – you may well change your mind…

2. Audi e-tron

In 2018 the Audi e-tron is about to be launched. We’ve looked at the hybrid version above so expect similar performance characteristics.

Expect a 311 mile (500km) range – a car that will compete with the Tesla Model X, but with Audi’s refinement and attention to detail.

3. Jaguar i-Pace

Jaguar, the Great British marque and favourite of the ruling elite… Expect a 300+ mile range, performance and luxury you will only find in a Jaguar. This is certainly one to watch for 2018.

Overall?

At something over 2,000 words this is the biggest article we have published at E-Car Test Drives. It should show you what the best hybrids and BEV SUVs on the market today.

As a final top 7 on the market today, we would place the cars in this order:

  1. Tesla Model X
  2. Volvo XC 90
  3. Mini Cooper
  4. Audi e-tron hybrid
  5. Porsche Cayenne
  6. Kia Niro
  7. Mitsubishi Outlander

Happy hunting

Richard Shrubb

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