Hybrid cars, which utilize both electric motors and petrol/diesel engines for power, are often promoted as an eco-friendly choice. However, these cars may end up costing you more due to their high price and less-than-stellar real-world fuel economy. While hybrids can be incredibly fuel-efficient in city driving, longer trips on highways may not be as efficient as anticipated.
During a 160-mile drive that involved various road types, including highways, country roads, and city driving, we only achieved a fuel economy of 44.0mpg in the diesel-electric Citroen DS5, which had an official fuel consumption figure of 72.4mpg. This is despite driving at sensible speeds.
The primary cost, however, is the premium that hybrid models have over conventional versions. The top-spec DS5 Hybrid4 200 DStyle costs a whopping £34,430, whereas similarly equipped petrol and diesel models are available for less than £29,700. Although the hybrid is more fuel-efficient on paper, you would have to travel a significant number of miles to recoup the hybrid's initial cost.
In addition, the hybrid transmission can be unpleasant to drive, with a delay between pressing the accelerator and the car accelerating. As a result, the petrol or diesel option is generally preferable for most car buyers.
Even the fuel-efficient Lexus hybrid could end up being more costly than the petrol version. Although the hybrid claims a fuel economy of 65.7mpg compared to the petrol's 32.8mpg, the hybrid typically costs about £2,500 more than the petrol option. A typical owner driving 24,000 miles over three years may still be out of pocket with the hybrid, with just a £1,850 saving in fuel bills, according to claimed economy figures.
While the hybrid may offer free car tax compared to the petrol's £265 annual bill, the hybrid is typically more fuel-efficient in city driving, where regular braking can recharge the batteries. Those who drive more in the city than on highways will likely benefit from a hybrid, while those who spend most of their driving time on highways may be better off with a petrol car.