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Looking for a hybrid under €20k? Here are the 3 you need to think about

Looking to save on petrol bills? Here are the models to consider.

Image: DoneDeal

LATELY, IT SEEMS that every big car maker is starting to introduce hybrid models into their ranges.

There are many advantages to having a hybrid car, the main ones being a lower rate of fuel consumption as well as reduced Co2 emissions – both of which can benefit your pocket as well as the environment.

However, there are some caveats to consider before purchasing a hybrid, mainly to do with your driving habits. If you find yourself mainly doing your driving along shorter journeys between the school run or work, and this mainly is in an urban setting, then a hybrid could be the right kind of car for you.

If you haven’t had a hybrid car before there may be some things you aren’t sure about, so hopefully we can help dispel any myths and answer some questions you might have in this article.

A hybrid is a car that comes equipped with a conventional combustion engine (usually petrol) that also has an electric motor. The latter is powered by a large battery, and in some cases, this alone can power the car. When driving, the car will automatically alternate between the two energy sources – seamlessly and without any additional input required from you.

Unlike plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles, hybrids do not need to be plugged in or charged up; this process is carried out by the car itself, so you won’t need to do anything different compared to a regular car.

Hybrids also come with automatic transmissions rather than manual gearboxes. You don’t need to drive them much differently to a standard combustion-engined car, but subtle changes to driving style can help reduce the fuel consumption even further. Most hybrids have a regenerative braking feature whereby the car’s battery can harvest energy during braking or when the car is coasting up to a red light, for example, and this helps to add more charge to the battery.

Then the electric motor is used during the initial pull away from stationary to get the car’s speed up before then combustion engine kicks in. Situations like this make life that bit easier for the engine and thus help to reduce fuel consumption.

Even though most hybrid cars can drive using only electric power, they will only do this for very short distances as the battery used in them is only designed to supplement the main engine, not replace it. Most hybrid cars will have an EV button to use only the battery power but this will often only last for a couple of kilometres at best.

If you are considering a hybrid as your next car, here’s a roundup of some of the best value hybrids currently on the market for €20k or less.

1. Toyota Prius (2009-2016)

Source: DoneDeal

When it comes to hybrids, none is known better than the Toyota Prius. This third generation model was the best yet and while its styling isn’t the most conventional (or pretty), underneath it is a solid car with a good track record for reliability.

The car scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, too. It is only slightly larger than an average hatchback and is easy to manoeuvre around town, although some may not like the short bonnet as you can’t easily see the end of it when driving.

The interior is a little unconventional as the main driving instruments are spread across the top of the dashboard in the middle, rather than directly in front of the driver. It also has a little gear selector mounted in the middle of the centre console. It can seem like there’s a lot of plastic inside, but all the buttons and switches feel solid and should last well. This model tends to be mechanically sound with no major issues known to affect it.

As the onboard battery gets older, it can lose some of its capacity. That said, the setup used in the Toyota seems to perform the best and rarely seem ever to give trouble.

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2. Honda Insight (2009-2014)

Source: DoneDeal

The Honda Insight was a direct rival to the popular Prius, and while it hasn’t had the same success, it remains an excellent hybrid that is capable of returning low fuel consumption figures. It also doesn’t quite look as unusual as the Toyota.

Around town, the Insight is a good car and drives smoothly, but if you try to push it a little harder out on the motorway, the CVT gearbox can make the engine rev highly resulting in a less refined driving experience.

Like the Prius, the Honda also scored a full five stars in crash tests, and there is plenty of space inside including a decent 408-litre boot capacity. Like other Hondas of this era, the Insight had a split rear window that some people found partially obscured rear visibility.

Most models come equipped with Bluetooth, cruise control, and a USB port that’s handy for charging your phone up.

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3. Lexus CT200H (2011-onwards)

Source: DoneDeal

People often refer to Lexus as the Japanese Mercedes for its approach to combining heavily engineered cars with luxurious interiors. The CT200H is the smallest car that Lexus makes, and while it hasn’t had the same sales success as its larger siblings, it does make for a canny purchase if you’re looking for something that’s well finished and reliable.

The CT uses the same hybrid mechanicals as the Prius, but compared to the Toyota, its conservative styling has more appeal. Low CO2 emissions make these cheap cars to tax as well. Inside, most models feature leather upholstery and the cabin is well laid out and finished to a high standard.

As it shares many of its parts with its parent company, Toyota, these models tend to be quite reliable. Don’t be put off if you come across one with higher mileage, although most tend to have low mileages.

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More: How to buy a great SUV on a €15k budget (and 3 to check out first)>

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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