TAKE A LOOK AT THESE ALTERNATIVES
BMW ActiveHybrid 3 SE, £40,560
A powerful hybrid at its fastest. BMW has combined a 306bhp 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine with an electric motor, so total output is a massive 340bhp. This translates into a 0-62mph time of just 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. Unless you drive like a frightened nun – in which case this car is not for you – you’ll never get anywhere close to the published figures of 47.9mpg and 139g/km of CO2 emissions. There’s no plug-in ability either, which means you can’t enjoy fuel free, zero-emission commuting.
Toyota Prius Plug-in, £33,245
After thirteen years, the Toyota Prius still seems like the best hybrid option for most people. Powered by a 98bhp 1.8-litre 1.8 VVT-i engine, it's never going to match the driving excitement of the Volvo, but the T Spirit model promises 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. Acceleration is an uninspiring 11.4 seconds (0-62mph) and the top speed is 112mph but it’s comfortable and pleasant enough. The new plug-in version means as long as your commute is 15 miles or less, theoretically you could drive to work, plug in and return home again, all without sipping a drop of petrol.
Vauxhall Ampera, £34,995
If you’re committed to an electric-only mode and must have a plug-in hybrid then your only other choice is the Vauxhall Ampera (or stable mate Chevrolet Volt). A number of plug-ins are on the way but for now there’s limited choice. Vauxhall claim 25 to 50 miles of battery electric driving range is possible with a potential 235mpg and 27g/km of CO2 emissions. It doesn’t have the comfort and refinement of the Volvo, but performance is respectable; 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds, though top speed is just 100mph.