► CAR’s list of the best diesel hybrid cars on sale
► What is a diesel hybrid car?
► And which ones should you look for?
The best hybrid cars tend to use petrol ICEs in combination with electricity, but there is an alternative. The best diesel hybrid cars combine diesel power with a battery and electric motor, and it’s often a winning combination for the best fuel economy.
A diesel hybrid is much more rare than your average hybrid or plug-in hybrid, but there are still a few around – and we’ve rated the best ones on the market right now.
The best diesel hybrid cars at a glance
Keep reading for our list of the best diesel hybrids – both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid – that you can buy. If you’re after something more family focused, check out our best hybrid estate car buying guide.
Best diesel hybrid cars to buy
BMW 320d Touring
Best for: Pretty much everything
Pros: Still the most complete estate you can buy
Cons: Almost nothing
Hybrid type: Mild
The competition may have caught up with it, but the 3-series Touring is still one of the best estate cars – let alone diesel hybrid cars – out there. It’s a do-everything car, managing to handle sweetly, carry large amounts of luggage and people, feel good inside and look distinctive out. The 320d is a perennial favourite of the engine range and, while it’s a little gruff, it provides plenty of power and manages favourable economy. Eco Pro mode allows you to track your fuel efficiency closely, and the engine is desperate to coast when you’re cruising to ensure it’s sipping as little of the tank as it can.
Priced from: £45,520
Read our BMW 3-series Touring review
BMW X1 sDrive18d
Best for: families in the city
Pros: Torquey, dependable, premium cabin
Cons: Lacks the presence of the larger models
Hybrid type: Mild
It might look a little derivative, but the latest X1 from BMW is its best small crossover yet. Just the right amount of tech, just the right amount of plushness inside and a good amount of technology as standard. The sDrive18d – like the 320d Touring – has a slightly gruff engine note from its 2.0-litre engine, but it’s torquey and a dependable workhorse – and features a super modern mild hybrid system that can provide it with a short e-boost.
Priced from: £35,425
ead our BMW X1 review
Mercedes GLC 300de
Best for: Those who appreciate a good ride
Pros: One of the highest zero-emission ranges here, super luxurious, nice ride
Cons: Not the best dynamics
Hybrid type: Plug-in
This is currently one of the very few diesel plug-in hybrid options available on the UK market, sitting alongside the soon-to-be-replaced E-Class plug-in hybrid. The GLC 300de currently has one of the highest zero-emission ranges of a plug-in hybrid car, with Mercedes claiming up to 78 miles on a single charge. The GLC 300de features all of the technology and interior design of the latest C-Class, including the latest version of Merc’s MBUX infotainment system, but in a taller SUV body and with a larger boot space.
Priced from: £64,460
Read our Mercedes GLC review
Best for: The executive
Pros: Swooping looks, strong performance, not too expensive
Cons: Starting to look dated
Hybrid type: Mild
A rare groove indeed, but a car we highly rate. The A7 in general still has a dramatic silhouette and, while it’s getting on a bit now, the car is ageing gracefully. The S7 is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that just oozes with smooth torque and punchy power, thanks to an e-boost system that includes an electric supercharger. Head-to-head, Audi says from a standing start this car will open up a 2.9 metre lead after 1.3 seconds of acceleration over an S7 without the tech. Buying one of these will surely turn heads, but the powerful performance package you get for the actually-quite-reasonable sum of money is one that’s hard to ignore. Not bad for a diesel hybrid at all.
Priced from: £69,940
ead our Audi S7 review
Range Rover D350
Best for: The style conscious
Pros: Still the best of the luxury SUVs, premium looks, premium interior
Cons: Mild-hybrid only if you want a diesel
Hybrid type: Mild
The latest Range Rover is still the top dog when it comes to the luxury SUV class. When the latest L460 version launched in 2022, it brought a new level of refinement and clean design inside and out, and kept a tight grip on its imperious driving position and deft off-road abilities, despite now being a car that hovers around the 2.5 tonne mark. The diesel versions of the Range Rover are mild hybrid only, but the D350 version is arguably the best engine of the bunch. If you want to plug in, it’ll have to be with a petrol combustion engine.
Priced from: £102,475
Read our Range Rover review
Should I buy a diesel hybrid?
A diesel hybrid is an ‘electrified’ powertrain using a diesel combustion engine coupled to an electric motor and battery pack. Almost all electrified diesels available are mild hybrids, which provide a small torque boost and a smooth start/stop system to help save fuel.
Diesel mild hybrids also usually feature a mechanism that allows a car to coast with the engine at idle when no throttle is applied. And, even so, they’re still few and far between.
However, if you’re looking for lower company car bills, have a wallbox charger at home or the opportunity to charge at work, a diesel plug-in hybrid could be a strong option. Not many diesel plug-in hybrids are available at all, though, due to low demand and the additional costs of developing such a powertrain – even if they seem to make the best sense in terms of maximising possible fuel economy.
Luke Wilkinson is a Senior Staff Writer for the Bauer Automotive Hub. He writes news, reviews, features and best of pages for both CAR magazine and our sister site, Parkers.