Typically, hybrid cars are more expensive upfront than their petrol and diesel counterparts. But if you do a lot of driving, particularly in the city, then they can be a good option reaping their return with excellent fuel economy, potentially saving you money in the long term. In addition, there are some surprisingly affordable hybrid models now available, which make fantastic first cars for young drivers.


In the world of hybrids, there are four main types to consider. It helps to know a little bit about each to know which variety is best for you. The main hybrid powertrains are:

  • Plug-in hybrids
  • Self-charging hybrids
  • Mild hybrids
  • Range-extender hybrids

Naturally, each type has different pros and cons too. It is worth taking a moment to consider which suits your needs and lifestyle. Typically:

  • Plug-in hybrids have a combustion engine and an electric motor, able to switch between the two whenever needed, they tend to have a large battery that can be recharged at a charge point and usually offer distances of 20+ miles on the electric motor alone
  • Self-charging hybrids work the same as plug-ins, but their batteries are charged directly from the combustion engine and from regenerative braking – typically they are driven shorter distances on electric power alone, instead needing to switch between the combustion engine and electric motor multiple times during a journey
  • Mild hybrids use petrol/diesel engines paired with an electric motor to reduce C02 emissions and improve fuel efficiency, but they don’t have the ability to drive on electric power alone
  • Range-extender hybrids, conversely, have an electric drivetrain paired with a fuel-based auxiliary power unit (APU) designed to increase the battery’s range (note, currently there are no range-extender hybrids on sale in the UK)


The hybrids on this list provide newer drivers with some genuinely affordable options to convert to a more eco-friendly, fuel efficient powertrain. There are also some models which are more expensive to buy new, but offer great used deals. Please, read on to discover our top 10 cheapest hybrid cars for young drivers.


Suzuki’s best-selling supermini, the Swift is a nimble little car that’s fun to drive and cheap to run – a winning combination for young drivers. Adding to that desirability, the Swift is available from just £14k brand new and that’s with the mild, self-charging technology, which is an impressively low starting price. Plus, you can also opt for an all-wheel drive model too, providing extra grip and stability during winter flurries and heavy rain. Inside, the car is comfortable and surprisingly practical considering its dinky outward dimensions, whilst its compact nature proves ideal for city driving and parking in those smaller spaces with ease. When it comes to the best cheap hybrids for newer drivers, the Suzuki Swift stands above the competition.

Best features:

  • Fun to drive
  • Very low starting price
  • Comfortable and practical



The Toyota Yaris is a self-charging hybrid with a 1.5-litre petrol engine supported by an electric motor. Bought new, it is available from roughly £20k, whilst pre-owned versions enjoy an affordable average price of £9,156. You can also regularly find older second-hand models for under £1k too. The city car is known to be reliable, very cheap to run, and easy to drive as well. The latest Yaris cars have a lower centre of gravity for a lighter, nimbler, and more enjoyable ride experience. In addition, they come well-equipped as standard and include a lot of safety tech, from adaptive cruise control, to a handy reversing camera, and a wealth of driver assists. It’s a great little car for younger drivers.

Best features:

  • Very reliable
  • Cheap to run
  • Easy to drive



The all-new Renault Clio is now available as a self-charging hybrid, the Clio E-Tech. It has a good starting point for a hybrid too, from £19.5k. Plus, it comes with class-leading safety equipment that earns the Renault Clio an impressive five stars out of five in Euro NCAP safety tests. The popular supermini is a great all-rounder of a car too: it offers a good driving experience with tight handling, it has a sizeable boot at 301 litres, and it provides very low running costs. For young drivers, it understandably has a lot of appeal, particularly in the design apartment with its stylish exterior. It’s also easy to manoeuvre, helping build driver confidence.

Best features:

  • Great all-rounder
  • Class-leading safety kit
  • Good to drive



Available as a plug-in or as a self-charging hybrid, the Toyota Prius is the car that kick started the revolution towards the fuel efficient powertrain, as the first volume-produced hybrid vehicle – first on sale way back in 1997 (2000 in the UK). From roughly £25k, you can enjoy a brand new model and you get a lot of car for your money too. It has a spacious and comfortable cabin, very low running costs, and it has a very good reliability record, which is great news for newer drivers looking at the used car market. Second-hand, the Prius has an average sale price of £11.5k, but you can still find hundreds of models for under £5k, ranging from 2008 to 2010 with typical mileage from 80k.

Best features:

  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Very reliable
  • Very low running costs



One of the world’s best-selling cars with a nameplate that spans an impressive 12 generations, the new Toyota Corolla is a self-charging hybrid with a petrol-electric powertrain. The compact hatchback is a brilliant family car that’s nice to drive, with a comfortable cabin. It also benefits from Toyota’s very good reliability rating and it comes packed with lots of equipment and safety gear as standard. And thanks to all that safety kit, it’s one of the safer cars on the market, with a strong five out of five Euro NCAP rating. New models are available from £24k, whilst used variants have an average price of £18.5k, although you can still find a good selection to choose from for under £10k too.

Best features:

  • Nice to drive
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Comfortable cabin



The Hyundai Ioniq is a small car that sets its sights on rivalling the Toyota Prius, which is one of the best-selling hybrid vehicles on the market. To begin with, the Ioniq goes one up over Toyota’s offering, by providing a full electric powertrain, as well as a self-charging hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It enjoys a slightly cheaper starting price too, from £23.8k, and it also comes very well-equipped as standard. As you’d expect from a hybrid, the Ioniq is cheap to run and, for newer drivers, it is also easy to drive, with a stylish exterior and interior. In short, it is a very strong and worthy contender to the Prius, although when it comes to this top 10 list, the Prius has its history to draw upon and a wealth of used deals available under its belt.

Best features:

  • Easy to drive
  • Well-equipped
  • Stylish exterior and interior



For the young driver who likes to arrive in luxury, the Lexus CT is a compact hatchback with stylish looks and an upmarket cabin finished with soft materials. It has a slightly higher starting price than others on this list from £26k upwards, but for that price you do get an extra layer of quality and premium appeal. You can also pick up older models for cheaper, with used options averaging at £16,522. The Lexus CT is only available with one petrol-electric (self-charging) hybrid engine, but it does the job providing good fuel economy and an enjoyable driving experience. It is a practical car with a large boot and a comfy interior. It also holds its value well, which is good news if you’re thinking of moving to a larger car in the future.

Best features:

  • Stylish looks
  • Upmarket cabin
  • Premium appeal



If you’re a young driver who has their eyes set on an SUV, then it’s worth considering the Mini Countryman, which is a great all-rounder of a car. It benefits from those iconic Mini looks too, enhanced by chunkier styling and a sense of playfulness. Importantly, it is also good to drive. As a plug-in hybrid, however, it’s certainly not the cheapest of cars, sitting at the higher end of this list from roughly £33k. Nonetheless, despite its expensive price, it is still highly recommended and well-regarded, providing a very efficient return of 140 miles per gallon (MPG) to 166mpg depending on how you drive it. Needless to say, as a premium car, it also enjoys an upmarket interior and strong build quality.

Best features:

  • Iconic styling
  • Good to drive
  • Upmarket interior



The incredibly popular Volkswagen Golf is now available as an all-electric vehicle and as a plug-in hybrid, the Golf GTE. Again, the hybrid sits at the higher end of pricing on this list with starting prices from £33,400. It’s certainly not the cheapest, but it is a Golf and that alone will tempt a lot of buyers. Plus, with its iconic looks, fun driving experience, and strong build quality, the hatchback has a lot of appeal, particularly amongst younger drivers. Whether the plug-in hybrid is enough to tempt you at those prices, compared to the lower starting price of petrol models, especially in the used car market, will ultimately depend on how often you drive and how much of a premium you place on fuel economy.

Best features:

  • Strong build quality
  • Fun to drive
  • Iconic looks


10. BMW i3

The BMW i3 is unlike any other car in its sector, with a futuristic style all of its own. It’s certainly a vehicle that stands out from the crowd. It’s also good to drive and it enjoys superb build quality. And typical of the premium German marque, it has a high-quality finish and badge appeal. It’s now only available new as an all-electric vehicle (EV), but you can find older models on the used car market that are range extender hybrids – these use a two-cylinder petrol engine to provide additional charge to the drive battery. Typically, second-hand prices average around £22.3k and they tend to hold their price quite well too. Furthermore, it’s worth considering the fact the range extender models were phased out for a reason: in short, full EVs now offer increased mileage, essentially removing the need for extenders. So if you like this vehicle, it may be worth considering the electric options first.

Best features:

  • Unique styling
  • Good to drive
  • Superb build quality


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