Used car buying guide: Best petrol-electric hybrid cars for £10,000

£10,000 hybrids

The Ampera is well equipped and comfortable for £10,000 (Picture © Vauxhall)

Hybrid cars that combine electric motors with a conventional engine are becoming increasingly popular. And now that they’ve been on our roads for a few years, there are ever more available as used buys. We take a look at three petrol-electric hybrid cars that you can buy for £10,000. Our selection includes a four-wheel drive SUV and one car that’s more electric than petrol.

£10,000 hybrid: Why the Vauxhall Ampera?

Strictly speaking, the Ampera isn’t a hybrid. It’s a range extended electric vehicle. This means that it is powered by an electric motor that uses batteries charged by a typical household electricity supply. However, there is also a regular petrol engine that can recharge the batteries when required. So unlike other electric cars, you don’t have to worry about running out of battery power. The electric motor has 148bhp so it’s not short of grunt. And on plug-in power alone, its range is 50 miles. Thereafter, the 1.4-litre petrol generator kicks in automatically to charge the batteries. This combination sees a claimed 235.4mpg, which seems optimistic even if the nature of your driving is very low speed.

£10,000 hybrid: Comfortable and spacious

At the best part of two tonnes, the Ampera is a heavy car, and it feels it on the road. But you don’t buy one of these because you want driving thrills. You buy one for its ability to save you money at the pumps. It goes about that in a comfortable way with a cabin that’s well insulated from exterior noise. Although Amperas only have seating for four, their boot is a good size and the rear seats fold making it a practical car too.

£10,000 hybrid: What Vauxhall Ampera your money buys

If you had bought one brand new, the Ampera would have set you back around £30,000, even including the Government’s £5000 grant for plug-in vehicles. Although it hasn’t lost value as dramatically as pure electric vehicles, you can still pick up a four-year old Ampera for less than £10,000. The cars we found in that price bracket were 2012 12-reg cars and none had done more than 100,000 miles. The Ampera is a well-equipped car with every model featuring alloy wheels, a reversing camera, two 7-inch screens, air-conditioning and a digital radio. As with any hybrid, the electronics that control the two power plants are complex. Ensure any model you buy has a full-service history and, if possible, paperwork so you can satisfy yourself it hasn’t been plagued with glitches.

£10,000 hybrid: Why the Toyota Prius

£10000 Hybrids

Toyota has been selling the Prius for nearly 20 years. For £10,000 the third generation model is in budget (Picture © Toyota)

The Prius is the original, modern petrol-electric hybrid and is still among the most popular. And that means buyers of used models won’t struggle for availability. This is a conventional hybrid, so features a petrol engine and electric motor. These can work in tandem or independently of each other, depending on the kind of motoring you’re doing. Thanks to some improvements on this third-generation model, the 1.8-litre petrol engine works in harmony with an electric motor to give a total 134bhp and 72mpg. That’s performance and economy that aren’t far off a low-emission diesel car.

£10,000 hybrid: Just like a ‘regular’ car

Toyota spent a lot of time, energy and money ensuring there are no compromises with hybrid motoring on this generation of Prius. It drives very much like a regular automatic petrol car and handles like one too. You’d only know you’re in a hybrid while whirring along with no engine noise in car parks or slow-moving traffic. The aerodynamic shape means it’s quiet on the move and the cabin is comfortable, with plenty of head and leg room for four adults.

£10,000 hybrid: What Toyota Prius your money buys

As it’s a known quantity, the Prius holds its value relatively well for an alternatively-fuelled vehicle. That means our £10,000 budget will buy a 2009 59-reg or 2010 10-reg Prius. We found one of the former in well-equipped T-Spirit guise that had covered 85,000 miles and was from a franchised dealer for £9700. Alternatively, there was a younger 2010 model that wasn’t quite as well equipped but had only done 37,000 miles for £9695.

£10,000 hybrid: Why the Lexus RX400h

£10000 Hybrids

Lexus is large and luxurious but still affordable in RX400h guise (Picture © Lexus)

Our third choice, an SUV, was a toss-up between the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 and the Lexus RX400h. We went with the latter because of better availability. The Lexus is also larger and it benefits from sister brand Toyota’s knowledge with hybrid technology. Throw in a slice of luxury plus Lexus’s famed bullet-proof reliability and the RX400h makes a compelling case for itself. As with the Prius, this is a regular hybrid. The 3.3-litre petrol engine works in tandem with an electric motor to give an almost diesel-like 35mpg.

£10,000 hybrid: 4×4 designed for the road

The RX400h is a quick car despite its size and very refined when it’s on the move. Although it has four-wheel drive (courtesy of an electric motor powering the rear wheels) this car has been designed for the road. So although not great fun to drive, it still rides smoothly and is very comfortable. The interior is great for occupants with a hushed, frequently almost silent ride plus plenty of room for five adults in a bright airy cabin. Luggage space is disappointing for the size of car but the equipment list does go some way to making up for this. A lot of high-tech gizmos such as rain-sensitive wipers, xenon headlamps and cruise control are standard. And higher spec SE models also get luxuries such as adaptive front lighting and a powered tailgate.

£10,000 hybrid: What Lexus RX400h your money buys

The RX400h was an expensive car new with prices starting at around £40,000. However, there is a wide range of vehicles available for our price tag. We found cars ranging from 2005 to 2009 with the majority first registered between 2006 and 08. We discovered a 2007 57-reg SE-L that had done 78,000 miles for £9,999. A similar price could also buy a high mileage 2009 model and a relatively low mileage 2005 version from a franchised dealer.

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