With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid family car...
When guests admire your new living room bookcase, you might say “Ah, it’s from Habitat” with pride in your voice. And yet, now that the fashionable furniture maker’s wares can be bought at some supermarkets, you probably paid less than your visitors think.
In the same vein, this plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Audi A3 Sportback can be had for a lot less money than anyone seeing it is likely to imagine.
How so? Well, although it comes with all the perceived prestige that’s associated with the four rings on its grille, this premium family car currently costs less per month on PCP finance than its mechanically similar sibling, the Skoda Octavia iV SE L. It’s remarkably economical on paper, too – although you’ll have to use the electric driving mode a lot, through disciplined charging and careful driving, to get close to the 257mpg official figure.
Still, the A3’s official 40-mile electric-only range (running the Octavia’s 42 miles very close) means you can do the school run, and potentially your daily commute, without using any petrol. And it’s good news for company car users, because that range, plus low CO2 emissions of 26g/km, mean that in our favourite Sport trim, the A3 40 TFSIe squeaks into the 8% benefit-in-kind tax band. If you want something in a lower bracket, you’ll have to go for a fully electric car.
The larger, 18in alloy wheels of S line trim and above do take their toll on efficiency, with a higher 12% tax rate as the result. But for comparison, the petrol-only A3 35 TFSI Sport slots into a much more expensive (31%) bracket.
It’s not only the thought of saving money that’ll have you smiling, though. This electrified A3 is more engaging to drive than its PHEV Mercedes A-Class rival. The A3 has more grip and sharper steering, inspiring greater confidence on a twisty road. It’s easier to drive smoothly, too, with a brake pedal that feels more consistent, so you won’t lurch awkwardly when coming to a stop. Meanwhile, the A3’s 1.4-litre petrol engine is quieter, causing much less commotion when it takes over from electric power.
Inside, you’ll find a terrific driving position and a responsive, well-equipped infotainment system. Everything is well built and attractive to look at, even if the BMW 1 Series is even better for material quality.
Downsides? Well, the A3 40 TFSIe could be more practical. Six-footers will find its back seats rather cosy compared with those of the Octavia, and while that rival’s boot can swallow seven carry-on suitcases, its Audi sister can manage only five.
Still, that’s not enough to take the shine off the A3, which, despite its relative affordability, is one of the very best PHEVs out there.