superminis have come a long way since the name was coined in the 70s, to the point where they're now inescapable on our roads
hybrid and EV
They might still be relatively new to the market, but hybrids and EVs have come a long way since the Toyota Prius made people sit up and pay attention back in the late-90s. At the time, hybrids drew a lot of criticism, but they've since gained huge popularity.
At the most base level, a hybrid combines a traditional style petrol or diesel internal combustion engine to work in tandem with an electric motor. That’s where the simplicity stops however, as different manufacturers – and even different models – tend to mix those combinations of power in different ways. EVs on the other hand are full electric, so use pure battery alone.
In the most popular set-ups, hybrids either use the battery to assist the petrol/diesel engine when needed for extra support up hills or when overtaking, or they can run for limited distances on battery power alone. There’s also a third option; the plug-in hybrid, which uses a larger battery alongside the internal combustion engine. These can be charged through being plugged into mains electricity – giving a more impressive electric-only range. And then there’s the range extender set-up, which runs mostly on battery but with a small back-up engine in case you run out of charge.
Hybrids come in a variety of car types, from a small car like the Toyota Yaris all the way up to a huge SUV such as Porsche’s Cayenne. So you’ll be able to find a size and style to suit your needs, depending on what works best for you. That being said, hybrids are still not the best at out and out motorway driving compared to other models, so if that’s what you need it may be wise to steer clear of the segment, for now at least.
The world’s first mainstream hybrid, the Toyota Prius has proven itself since 1997.
The fully electric Nissan Leaf is a capable and modern family hatchback.
The all-electric Renault Zoe intends to be the world’s best-selling EV.
One of the early plug-ins, the Vauxhall Ampera has lots to offer.
Here Toyota brings all of its smaller sibling’s knowledge to a larger package.