If you’re looking to buy such a vehicle in 2016, it helps to know the difference between a plug-in hybrid car and a traditional hybrid car in the UK.

To start with, both types of hybrid cars feature a powertrain that combines an electric motor with a petrol/diesel engine.

The difference, however, is that while standard hybrid models use the engine to recharge the batteries in the electric motor, plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, can be recharged by plugging the car into an external electric power source.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, you must be wondering: just what is the best plug-in hybrid car to buy in the UK? Well, to help you answer that question, we’ve chosen our top picks for the best plug-in hybrids in 2016.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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It may be the new kid on the block, but the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV certainly took the UK’s plug-in hybrid car market by storm in 2016, and we think it will continue to do so in 2016.

At this moment in time, there aren’t any other plug-in hybrid SUVs in the UK, so the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a market to itself in 2016.

Offering average fuel economy of 148mpg and emitting just 44g/km of CO2, the Outlander PHEV is a perfect car for UK families looking for an eco-friendly car in 2016.

Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid offering can also travel for as many as 32 miles on electric-only mode, which is great for short journeys – perhaps to the shops and back.

The petrol-electric powertrain at the heart of the Outlander PHEV delivers a combined 200bhp, while its four-wheel-drive capability makes it one of the best plug-in hybrid cars at handling tough driving conditions.

As standard, the plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander comes with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless operation system, and much more.

One thing that we love about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is its looks – it has the appearance of a regular, sleek SUV. The Outlander PHEV doesn’t need funky lights and a quirky body to point out that it’s a plug-in hybrid, it just gets on with the job.

With high mpg, three driving modes, a host of standard kit, and a price tag to match the diesel model, it should come as no surprise that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is our choice for the UK’s best plug-in hybrid car of 2016.

BMW i8

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The BMW i8 is one of the coolest cars ever made. Period. The only reason why we didn’t choose it as our top pick for the best plug-in hybrid cars of 2016? The price tag.

It’s a supercar and therefore has a supercar price tag, but that’s not stopping UK motorists falling in love with the plug-in hybrid in 2016.

The futuristic-looking plug-in hybrid supercar manages to compete with the likes of the Audi R8 when it comes to acceleration, able to hit 60mph from a standing start in just 4.4 seconds.

What puts the BMW i8 on a different level to other supercars in the UK is its 2+2 seating configuration, meaning that you can bring three of your mates along for a spin in this plug-in hybrid beauty.

As with many plug-in hybrid cars in the UK, the BMW i8 comes packed with features to tempt in buyers.

An Aladdin’s Cave-esque list of equipment includes the likes of leather seats, Head-Up Display, sat-nav, cruise control, ambient interior lighting, and a Bluetooth telephone with USB & Voice Control.

So what about range? While it may be a supercar, the BMW i8 utilises its plug-in hybrid powertrain well to offer a total range of over 300 miles.

This is thanks to the combination of an electric motor and a 1.5-litre petrol engine, which offers customers average fuel economy of up to 134mpg and emits just 49g/km of CO2. BMW also says that the i8 has a pure electric range of up to 23 miles on a full charge.

Got cash to splash in 2016 and want to purchase a plug-in hybrid car in the UK? Simply look no further than the BMW i8.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

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The Volkswagen Golf is a fantastic car, so it makes sense that the plug-in hybrid version is one of the best hybrids on sale in the UK in 2016.

The VW Golf GTE combines the standard model’s 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with a battery-powered electric motor for a total output of 201bhp.

As you would expect with a plug-in hybrid, the Golf GTE sure is efficient. Officially, the model returns average fuel economy of 188mph, which is around 100mpg more than the most efficient standard Golf, the BlueMotion diesel.

Although the Golf GTE is a hybrid, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a slouch. When putting the pedal to the metal, the car slots in between the Golf GTI and Golf GTD for performance, completing the 0-62mph sprint in just 7.6 seconds.

If you want to take things a bit easier though, you can run the VW Golf GT solely on electric power for up to 31 miles and at speeds of up to 81mph.

Although one of the priciest models in the Golf range and not quite as sporty to drive as the GTI or GTD versions, the GTE certainly excels in efficiency and will ensure that long-term savings are made in terms of fuel costs and tax.

If you like the standard VW Golf and are looking at driving a more eco-friendly and cost-effective vehicle, then the Golf GTE is definitely one of the best plug-in hybrids to buy in the UK in 2016.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

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As with the VW Golf, the Toyota Prius is a well-received model, so it comes as no surprise that the plug-in hybrid version is one of the better PHEVs in the UK that you can buy in 2016.

The standard Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid car in the world and the model has gone from strength to strength, with the plug-in hybrid version now the most efficient in the range.

The powertrain of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, known as Hybrid Synergy Drive, comprises a 1.8-litre VVT-I petrol engine and an electric motor, combining to deliver 134bhp.

We think this version of the Toyota Prius is one of the UK’s best plug-in hybrid cars thanks to its average fuel economy of 135mpg, and the fact that it can travel for 15.5 miles on pure electric power. This could help you save a lot on your fuel bills when travelling to the shops and back in 2016.

Like other plug-in hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius PHV comes packed with desirable goodies, including the Toyota Touch multimedia system, smart entry & start system, driver and passenger heated seats, cruise control, and a rear-view camera display.

Whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid car or a traditional hybrid in the UK, a version of the Toyota Prius is definitely one of the options you should consider for purchase in 2016.

BMW i3 Range Extender

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We named the BMW i3 as one of the best electric cars to buy, so it only makes sense that the BMW i3 Range Extender version makes our list of the best plug-in hybrid cars that you can buy in the UK in 2016.

An unorthodox design means that the i3 Range Extender will stand out on roads in the UK. Trust us when we say that you won’t see many more eye-catching cars in 2016, especially not in the plug-in hybrid market.

There are two versions of the BMW i3 to choose from: the standard all-electric model and the i3 Range Extender, which we believe is now one of the best plug-in hybrid cars on the market.

The BMW i3 Range Extender has an enhanced range of around 180 miles, easily besting the standard model’s range of between 80 and 100 miles. In addition, the model only emits 13g/km of CO2, making it a great choice if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid in the UK.

Unlike the pure electric version, the i3 Range Extender is fitted with a small 0.6-litre petrol generator that kicks in when the electric battery is running low. This is the reason why the i3 Range Extender falls under the category of plug-in hybrid cars, and why it can be considered one of the UK’s best models of 2016.

It’s not just a quirky, pretty face, however, as the i3 also comes with a host of nifty gadgets.

Own a smartphone? Then you can connect it to the car via the BMW I Remote App. This lets you check your car’s location, charge level and whether or not it is locked.

That’s not all though, as the BMW i3 Range Extender also features a BMW Navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free and rear park distance control.

Combine all of these fetaures with the model’s neat handling and overall fun drive, and you can see why we think that the BMW i3 Range Extender is one of the UK’s best plug-in hybrid cars in 2016.