Top 10 best plug-in hybrid executive cars 2023

Open gallery Close News by Matt Saunders 11 mins read 24 August 2022 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share

The UK’s HMRC rules defining how much a company car may cost both the company that owns it, the driver who ‘benefits’ from its use, are now well established – and have been since 2019. Plug-in hybrid electrification is god, and electric range king.

But opting for any old PHEV executive option is no longer enough to guarantee a low benefit in kind tax liability, with some cars in the class offering big enough batteries to qualify for BIK taxation at just five per cent of their list price, and others as much as fourteen-. If you’re looking to buy the right electrified executive option, you clearly need to know which are the cars that may be worth a higher monthly contract hire rental, and which aren’t.

Below, then, is our list of not just the most tax-efficient PHEV execs on the market in 2023, but also the best to drive and own. Both petrol- and diesel-fuelled hybrid options are included – and likewise various kinds of body styles from SUVs to saloons and estates. Almost nothing listed here will weigh down your annual P60 certificate with more than an eight per cent BIK score.

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PHEV efficiency comes in all shapes and sizes these days; and some manufacturers have become specialists at catering to the UK’s particular company car tax system, while others continue to engineer to different priorities. So if you’re looking for do-it-yourself pay rise delivered by a company car with just the right price and amount of electrification, but you’re also not quite ready switch all the way into an EV fleet car, read on.

1. Mercedes-Benz GLC 300de

Pros: outstanding electric-only range, five per cent BIK qualification, SUV cabin space and versatility 

Cons: it’s expensive, weight of the hybrid system adversely affects ride and handling

Mercedes has thrown an awful lot of investment at its plug-in hybrid models over the last five years, and now sits in an enviable position among its rivals, with several models that qualify for an eight per cent BIK classification: but only one that does better still.

The leader of its pack is the electrified GLC mid-sized SUV, which was facelifted at the end of 2022. Having had a much bigger drive battery fitted, it’s now a car capable of a lab-test 83 miles of WLTP ‘equivalent all-electric range’ (the figure that HMRC uses to calculate BIK liability). Only the ultra-niche Polestar 1 has so far ever offered more; and only one other car in this list gets into the same five per cent tax bracket.

The Mercedes GLC PHEV can be had in either petrol- or diesel-electric form, but it’s the latter that gets the lowest CO2 emissions rating and associated WLTP fuel-efficiency claim: in the GLC 300de’s case, the latter’s in excess of 700mpg (although reproducing that in daily use, as any plug-in hybrid owner knows, will very much depend on lots of short-range use, and regular charging).


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Mercedes GLC

Cautiously evolved styling cloaks thoroughly upgraded hardware for new generation

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Our testing so far has suggested that real-world electric range is closer to 60 miles than 80-; and that the weight of this car’s 31.2kWh battery does take a slight toll on its ride and handling. The car’s body control is slightly softer than the typical mid-sized SUV, and it’s ride slightly more brittle; though the driving experience still polished and impressive in overall terms.

Mercedes charges a high price for the car; but, for the time being, can probably get away with doing so, with the extra cost being offset for the end user by tax savings.

Save money with new GLC deals from What Car?

2. Volvo V90 Recharge T6

Pros: spacious, comfortable, with lots of restrained Scandinavian design appeal

Cons: it’s big, quite pricey, and a little unexciting

Volvo’s history of offering its estate cars with a plug-in hybrid powertrain stretches back further than most in the business, but the recent V90 Recharge T6 is without doubt its most successful attempt at the recipe, and an outstanding all-rounder.

A 2022 upgrade means the car now has a decently sized, 18.8kWh battery pack, which means that the big Swede claims up to 54 miles on a single charge, helping to make it a much more user-friendly option than its predecessor, and dropping it into the eight per cent BIK bracket.

With 345bhp all in, the current version clearly isn’t the most powerful PHEV that Volvo has made, either, but it’s more than enough for what is essentially an easy-going motorway mile-muncher.

Another advantage the V90 T6 holds in the PHEV arena is that you can buy it with four-wheel drive. That said, it’s only all-wheel drive in the sense that there’s an electric motor powering the rear wheels and an internal combustion driving the fronts – so when you’re in EV mode this is a two-wheel-drive machine.

The Volvo’s calling-card is a rich, relaxing cabin ambience and equally supremely relaxing rolling character. This is how a big Volvo should feel: spacious, refined, absorbent, mature, and brilliantly versatile for everyday life.

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