Which is the best hybrid car to buy? | The Financial Express

Which is the best hybrid car to buy?

All BS6 cars are clean; they emit only water vapour and carbon dioxide. But hybrid cars are up to 50% more fuel efficient than regular cars and contribute the least towards air pollution

Which is the best hybrid car to buy?
Both the Urban Cruiser Hyryder and the Grand Vitara are the most spacious cars in the Rs 10-20 lakh segment, and far more spacious than the City e:HEV.

The conventional Honda City (1498cc petrol engine mated to 7-Speed CVT automatic gearbox) returns a fuel efficiency of a claimed 18.4 km/litre.

The same car with hybrid technology returns 44% higher fuel efficiency, at 26.5 km/litre. It’s also more powerful (consumes less fuel but produces more power).

In a hybrid car, there is an engine and an electric motor. The motor gets energy from the battery, and the engine from petrol. The engine, while powering the wheels, also charges the battery. The battery also gets charged when you apply brakes (regenerative braking).

The same is the case with other strong hybrids such as Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder. But which, of the three, is the best hybrid car to own? Let’s deconstruct.

Honda City e:HEV

It is available only in one variant (ZX Sensing e:HEV), and is the most expensive of the three (at Rs 19.89 lakh, ex-showroom, compared to Rs 17.99-19.49 lakh for the Grand Vitara and Rs 15.11-18.99 lakh for the Urban Cruiser Hyryder). The reason is it comes with Honda Sensing semiautonomous driving ability—it can ‘drive’ itself inside a marked lane on the highway and follow a vehicle ahead at that vehicle’s speed.

Being a sedan, the City e:HEV has lesser headroom, but has similar seating space as the two SUVs. It has the smallest boot space of the three.

The claimed fuel efficiency is 26.5 km/litre, and the actual isn’t bad either. Driving on the highway at a speed of 90 km/h, my test car returned 24 km/litre, but the more surprising figure was driving in city traffic, where it returned 26.5 km/litre!

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Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder

Pricing (from Rs 15.11 lakh to Rs 18.99 lakh), fuel efficiency (27.97 km/litre) and cabin space (tall adults can sit cross-legged on the rear seat) make the Urban Cruiser Hyryder possibly the best deal in the Rs 10-20 lakh segment, not only among hybrids but among all cars.

The S e-Drive 2WD variant is the most affordable hybrid vehicle in India (Rs 15.11 lakh, ex-showroom).

It has a 1490cc petrol engine with a 59 kW electric motor. Driving on the highway at speeds of 90-100 km/h, my test car returned 22 km/litre, and in city traffic it increased to 26.5 km/litre.

But it has an understated design, and the cabin looks a lot like Maruti Suzuki cars (Toyota and Suzuki have collaborated to develop the Urban Cruiser Hyryder and the Grand Vitara).

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara

It’s the biggest car made by Maruti Suzuki, and shares the powertrain with the Urban Cruiser Hyryder (1490cc petrol with a 59 kW electric motor). It’s got a strong road presence, is a head-turner (people generally don’t expect to see a big-size Maruti Suzuki car), and looks marginally bolder than the Urban Cruiser Hyryder.

Both the Urban Cruiser Hyryder and the Grand Vitara are the most spacious cars in the Rs 10-20 lakh segment, and far more spacious than the City e:HEV.

The claimed fuel efficiency is 27.97 km/litre, and my test car returned 26.9 km/litre in a mix of highway and city traffic driving.

But while the Urban Cruiser Hyryder starts at a lower-end variant with fewer features (Rs 15.11 lakh), the Grand Vitara is priced Rs 17.99-19.49 lakh.

Which is the best buy?

The City e:HEV is much more than a hybrid—it’s also a semi-self-driving car (Honda Sensing). But in Indian traffic conditions, I couldn’t find much use of Honda Sensing. You will, however, have to pay for it because that is part of the package.

The Grand Vitara and the Urban Cruiser Hyryder are similar cars, but the latter has an advantage.

Toyota offers 3 years/100,000 km standard warranty, while Maruti Suzuki offers 2 years/40,000 km.

The entry-level model of the Urban Cruiser Hyryder is almost Rs 3 lakh cheaper.

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The Grand Vitara gets six body colours with three dual-tone options, while the Urban Cruiser Hyryder gets seven body colours with four dual-tone options.

While car buying decisions are also made based on dealer discounts and waiting time of a car, on paper the Urban Cruiser Hyryder appears to be the most sensible hybrid car to buy in India.

Why hybrid cars are so fuel efficient in city traffic?

Conventional cars return better fuel efficiency on highways, because in city traffic the driving isn’t efficient, i.e. you have to apply brakes more often, you have to suddenly accelerate and decelerate, and on traffic lights the engine remains on to power the AC.

It’s the opposite in hybrid cars, which return better fuel efficiency in city traffic than on highways. One of the reasons is regenerative braking. In city traffic, you tend to use brakes more often than driving on the highway, and the energy regenerated by braking goes back to the battery. The battery gets charged enough to be driven for a longer time in the pure electric mode as well as to power the AC even when the car is stationary.

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First published on: 05-11-2022 at 01:45 IST