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Electric and hybrid cars: Turbo charged

13 May 2021 by BusinessTraveller
Audi e-tron GT concept

It’s all about electric and hybrid this year. Here is a look at the top new eco-friendly vehicles.

Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid

  • From £44,995

Kia won the 2020 World Car of the Year award with its brilliant Telluride, produced for the US market, and it would be a brave person to bet against the Korean firm repeating the feat this year with its latest large off-roader. The good news is that the all-new Sorento is a global car so is available in far more markets than the Telluride. Even better, this particular version is a plug-in hybrid, which means you get a large, seven-seater off-roader that achieves 38g/km emissions and about 64km on a full charge.

Considering the Sorento’s size and towing capabilities, that will make it not only tempting for larger families but also for company car users looking to reduce their benefit-in-kind monthly tax bill.

Fiat 500 Electric

  • From £19,995

The cute little Italian baby is back – and this time it’s packing a plug-powered punch. Aside from new headlights, the new Fiat 500 may not look all that different on the outside, but under the skin there have been some huge changes. All of the petrol and diesel engine options have gone, replaced by the choice of just two batteries – 24kWh or 42kWh – that offer a 185km or 320km range respectively when fully charged.

There’s a third body style to add to the standard hatchback and cabriolet, too – called the 3+1, it has a small rear-hinged door just behind the driver’s door to enable better access to the back seats. For the moment this is available only in left-hand drive markets, but if it proves popular don’t be surprised to see it in UK showrooms as well.

Land Rover Defender P400e Plug-In Hybrid

  • From £65,915

Land Rover finally introduced its new Defender last year, and 2021 is no less busy for the iconic off-roader. For starters, it has a starring role in the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, and it has also launched this, its first Defender Plug-In Hybrid.

Available only in five-door 110 form, the P400e has a 2.0-litre petrol engine allied to a 19.2kWh battery, which combine to provide an incredible power output of 398bhp. That gives it a 0-60mph time of only 5.4 seconds, as well as an all-electric range of 43km and emissions of 74g/km. Arguably the most advanced Land Rover Defender yet, the P400e should be a popular addition to the range.

Land Rover Defender P400e Plug-In Hybrid

Citroen e-C4

  • From £29,180

It’s fair to say that Citroen’s previous offerings in the Ford Focus/VW Golf family hatchback market haven’t exactly flown out of showrooms. Admittedly, it’s tough in such a hotly contested sector, but the French company’s new C4 and this all-electric version, the e-C4, might just do the trick.

With a 50kWh battery and a fully-charged range of 349km, the sharply styled e-C4 offers buyers a straight choice in the C4 range between a petrol or diesel engine or electric power, in the same five-door hatchback body style – similar to what the Peugeot 208 supermini from Citroen’s sister firm does. It looks great, too.

Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid

  • From £47,395

Toyota probably has the widest experience of hybrids of almost any manufacturer, but its background when it comes to plug-in hybrid technology has been limited to the Prius. With the huge growth in demand for eco-friendly vehicles, especially SUVs, Toyota has moved the tech across to its popular RAV4 to make it the flagship of its hybrid range.

It uses the same 2.5-litre petrol engine as the standard RAV4 hybrid, which, along with a larger electric battery, produces a combined power output of 302bhp. That’s enough to give it an impressive electric-only range of 74km, with 22g/km emissions.

Jaguar I-Pace

  • From £65,195

We won’t pretend that we’re not big fans of the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace, which won three World Car of the Year awards on its launch in 2019. Now it has had a substantial refresh with faster charging, better connectivity and improved technology, including the ability to update its software remotely in a similar way to Tesla’s models.

The 470km fully-charged range continues as before, but there’s a new infotainment system that does not need an extra SIM card on board. Cleverly, it has a smartphone pack that can pair two phones simultaneously, while a 100kW charger can add up to 126km of range in only 15 minutes.

Volvo XC40 Recharge

  • Est. from £53,155 (First Edition £59,985)

As Volvo’s first fully electric car, you’d expect the new XC40 Recharge to have something of an uphill task ahead of it – especially with the arrival of Volvo’s luxury all-electric Polestar brand. However, the Swedish firm’s strong position across the SUV sector and the success of the standard XC40 makes this all-electric version a strong contender.

The hefty price tag might deter some, but a 401km fully-charged range should mean that it’s practical enough for most drivers. A high-end First Edition of the Recharge will be the first to be introduced, followed by lesser versions with smaller batteries later on.

VW ID4

  • From £41,570

Following the successful introduction of its all-electric ID3 hatchback last year, Volkswagen is adding to its ID family of cars not once but twice this year. The first is this, the ID4, an SUV that is roughly the same size as VW’s traditional Tiguan SUV and sits on the same platform as the ID3.

That means a similar choice of battery levels, either 52kW or 77kW, with the latter offering up to 522km of range on a full charge. A high-performance four-wheel drive ID4 will join the range later in the year. With the ID3 already one of the best-selling electric vehicles in Europe, the ID4 will surely follow suit over the next year.

BMW iX

  • From £69,000

The atmosphere in BMW showrooms this year will certainly be electric. Readers of our website will know we’re big fans of the iX3, the newly released all-electric version of the i3 SUV (see review here). There will also be an electric addition to the 4 Series, as well as this, the new iX, which will go on sale in the winter.

With front-end styling that can only be described as challenging, the iX will be BMW’s technology flagship, with a 100kWh battery and an impressive 600km range. Roughly the size of today’s BMW X5, it can be fast-charged to 80 per cent of its capacity in 40 minutes – crucially, it represents the future for BMW’s electric range and line-up as a whole.

Audi e-Tron GT

  • From £79,900

Audi really ruffled features when it introduced the R8 sports car back in 2006 and it may do the same with the new all-electric e-tron GT, which is on sale now. Using the same platform as the super Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT is a four-door coupe with a 93kWh battery that gives a range of up to 470km.

With the equivalent of 589bhp in the flagship RS version and four-wheel drive, it can cover the 0-60mph sprint in only 3.3 seconds. At launch there are just two versions of the Audi e-tron GT, the quattro and GT, although expect other models to be introduced in due course, following the lead of the Taycan.

Nat Barnes

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