If you’re a company car driver, then there’s no way you can hide from the appeal of the latest generation of plug-in hybrids or fully electric cars. The tax benefits are too great to ignore.
But plug-ins are far more than just a tax dodge – high tech features and great driving characteristics are essential to make them appeal.
Here are our 10 favourites:
Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron
Audi currently has two e-Tron models in its line-up, the Q7 SUV and the smaller A3 Sportback. It’s the hatch that’s the one that makes the most sense. Baseed on the Volkswagen Golf GTE, it has all of the upmarket appeal of the A3 hatch, but with a brilliant hybrid drivetrain that combines a 75Kw electric motor with a 1.4 turbo petrol engine. A three-hour charge gives you 25-30 miles of range, and 0-60 in 7.6 seconds, with a petrol engine to remove range anxiety.
BMW 330e iPerformance Hybrid
In the real word, the BMW 330e iPerformance is one of the most usable plug-ins you can find. It’s discreet and very normal to look at, but has a 25-mile electric only range, with no compromise when it comes to long-distance motoring. With the equivalent of 250bhp, it’s quick enough to sprint from 0-60mph in a shade over six seconds, with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine in reservre to ensure you don’t get stranded. Plus, it’s rated at just 44g/km of CO2.
Hyundai Ioniq hybrid
It’s not to everybody’s tastes, admittedly, but the Hyundai Ioniq sits squarely in the face of the Toyota Prius, but with far less outlandish looks. It’s available as a full electric car, a plug-in hybrid or a conventional hybrid. Roomy, efficient, good to drive and cheaper than the equivalent Prius, it’s the ideal workhorse plug-in EV or hybrid. Not sexy, but when it comes to doing the job it says on the tin, Hyundai has nailed it. And for a good price.
Mercedes E-Class Plug-in
The E-Class E350e is very much the definition of the plug-in hybrid as a tax break, with a moderate 20-mile all-electric range. But the powertrain is enough to exempt it from the congestion charge and put it in one of the lowest BIK bands, which, from a personal finance perspective, makes a lot of sense. It’s a very affordable way of owning a fine car, even if the initial purchase price is quite steep at over £50k.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
To say the original is the best isn’t always true, and in many ways the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is far from a market leader these days. But as one of the first true plug-in hybrids on the market, and by far one of the most successful, it still has appeal, not least because after five years the technology is proven to be reliable. A safe bet, and one that remains synonymous to the hybrid breed.
Gawky, weird but ultimately innovative, the original Nissan LEAF was a true game changer. Nissan’s determination to stick with the concept, despite concerns over range anxiety and public acceptance, did wonders for the approval ratings of plug-in cars of all types. Now, the granddaddy of EVs is about to enter a new, much more mature generation, with an all-new LEAF about to arrive. It promises a range of over 200 miles, with styling borrowed from the new Micra giving it a far more socially acceptable face. For the early adopters, a new LEAF is just what the doctor ordered.
Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
If you want to go plug-in, but still lord it over the rest of the traffic, then Porsche has the answer. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid may be expensive, but it’s also C-Charge free, and a very tax-efficient way of ensuring your company director status doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s also a Porsche, and that means that performance and handling were key to its development. Believe us, it doesn’t disappoint.
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
As plug-in cars go, the latest plug-in Smart is a no-frills package, which doesn’t pretend to do anything it can’t. Put simply, it’s a pure electric car, but thanks to its lightweight, it doesn’t need a huge battery to keep up with traffic or have a half-decent range. It’ll do 100 miles on a four-hour charge, which will get most urban dwellers through the week. It’s no driver’s car, but as an alternative to a bus or a crowded commuter train, the C-Charge exempt Smart is a complete no-brainer.
When it debuted in 2016, the XC90 was one of the first plug-in cars to really demonstrate how you could run what was previously defined as a ‘gas-guzzler’ on an affordable monthly BIK payment. Yes, the list price is high, but the XC90 tricks the tax man by having an 87bhp electric motor alongside its conventional 320bhp turbo petrol engine. In real terms, the range is limited. But in benefit terms, it soon adds up.
And our favourite plug-in hybrid on sale is...
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Our favourite plug-in is also the most usable. The Volkswagen Golf GTE looks no different to other models in the Golf line-up, and is also sensibly priced. But it has a 30-mile electric range coupled to a 1.4 turbo petrol engine, helping it fall into the lowest BIK tax band of seven per cent thanks to CO2 emissions of just 35g/km. Yet, both in full electric mode and range extended petrol mode, it behaves just like a normal Golf. And a normal Golf, folks, is a pretty good car. It deserves to be top of the mainstream company car tick list.