These are the 10 most searched-for used hybrids in SA

Fancy adding some voltage to your octane? Many motorists do and these are the models that flip their switches the most, writes Brenwin Naidu

01 April 2020 - 18:40
South African drivers have a growing number of options available when looking for a second-hand car with a hybrid engine.
South African drivers have a growing number of options available when looking for a second-hand car with a hybrid engine.
Image: Supplied

In theory, hybrid power trains aim to offer the best of two worlds.

When executed correctly, this unification of electrification and internal combustion can yield impressive real-world benefits to motorists, both in terms of economy and performance. Ideally, this is how most of us want it to work: battery power in stop-go urban settings, engine power on-tap where required elsewhere.

As the automotive world continues to embrace electric propulsion, hybrids are no longer the exclusive niche they once were, with a wider variety of regular and plug-in versions available on the market than a decade ago.

For second-hand punters, a hybrid might represent good value. Easy to surmise why. New, they generally cost more than their standard counterparts. Used, most shoppers are going to want to opt for one of the simpler, less complicated derivatives in a range, so the surplus of remaining choices is bound to be competitively priced if you are willing to take the plunge.

We cannot forget that hybrid versions have their compromises. There are many cases in which the electrical paraphernalia impinges on luggage space and even fuel-tank capacity. Inevitably, there are additional maintenance parameters.

So be sure to do your homework before taking inspiration from this list of most searched-for hybrid models in SA, according to data we scored from digital classifieds portal AutoTrader.

The ranking from least to most popular is attributed to statistics from February 2020. The percentages quoted are based on the total number of hybrids that users searched for during the month — we asked, but the company opted not to give us that figure.

The Toyota Prius.
The Toyota Prius.
Image: Supplied

10. Toyota Prius (4.3%)

Amusing that the model responsible for pioneering this genre would place dead last on the list. Better not let my colleague Thomas Falkiner hear my chuckles — because the Prius ranks as a big favourite for ironic reasons that you will have to ask him about.

Perhaps the low online desirability levels of the Prius are owed to a matter of diminished supply, because at the time of writing this there is literally one example of the car listed on the AutoTrader website: a 2007 example with 284,710km going for R84,995.

The BMW i3.
The BMW i3.
Image: Supplied

9. BMW i3 (4.7%)

Right, hold up. We know what you're thinking: this is a fully-fledged electric vehicle. Well, a technicality allows the egg-shaped BMW a place on this list. Remember that models can be specified with an optional range-extender, which relies on what? Correct, a tiny petrol-powered engine that charges the battery.

The cheapest i3 currently listed is R419,900 with 43,800km on its odometer. Interestingly, its i8 sibling does not feature at all in the February rankings, but placed ninth too in the January statistics.

The Mercedes-Benz S400h
The Mercedes-Benz S400h
Image: Supplied

8. Mercedes-Benz S400h (7.7%)

The German carmaker first introduced a hybrid version of its flagship in the W222 generation, launched in 2013. And the example in this context is also a fine indicator of how dramatically large luxury saloons depreciate. At launch all those years ago, it had an asking price of R1,283,400. Now you can have one with 30,098km for R695,000km.

As an aside, the S400 hybrid marked my first ever exposure to the S-Class range as a motoring journalist, as evidenced by this mildly embarrassing video report that remains rather firmly etched on the cave walls of YouTube.

The BMW X5 xDrive40e.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e.
Image: Supplied

7. BMW X5 xDrive40e (7.7%)

The previous X5 (F15) was the first of its breed to be available as a plug-in hybrid. Launched locally in 2016, it had an asking price of R1,097,500. Now you can fetch one of that same year with 35,000km on the odometer for R623,000. As you can see, it ties with its saloon peer of the same nationality in this contest.

The Mercedes-Benz C350e.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e.
Image: Supplied

6. Mercedes-Benz C350e (8.6%)

To compensate for the added heft of the electric gubbins, engineers from the Stuttgart automaker endowed the hybrid version of its C-Class with standard pneumatic suspension. Another unique selling point — and a patriotic one at that — is that the C350e is manufactured right here at the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London.

In 2016, it had a base price of R804,900, a sticker bested only by the Mercedes-AMG flavours of the sedan, so it was never going to be a commercial success. Now you can pick one up for considerably less, of course. A 2016 specimen with 21,973km can be fetched for R479,250.

The Toyota Auris HSD.
The Toyota Auris HSD.
Image: Supplied

5. Toyota Auris HSD (8.6%)

Another tie on the list. No secret that the Toyota Auris — a nameplate now retired in our market — had strong kinship with the contemporary Corolla models of its time. But during the period the brand tried to create some differentiation between the two — a move they have since reverted on, understanding that the Corolla title is a far more powerful institution. Goodbye Auris, hello Corolla Hatch.

Anyway, a rose by another name would still smell as sweet. And the Auris represents an archetype of sensible motoring. Used examples of Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) version can be had from as little as R139,900. The most expensive we saw listed had 51,000km with an asking price of R229,900.

The Lexus RX450h.
The Lexus RX450h.
Image: Supplied

4. Lexus RX450h (8.9%)

For a long time, Lexus could claim to be the only brand with a hybrid contender in the competitive sport-utility vehicle space. While that has since changed, one can argue that interested shoppers in this area would have just a bit more reverence for the product that blazed the trail in the tranche of electrified, high-riding, upmarket machines for the urban jungle.

You could have a used 2011 RX450h for R121,000, if substantial mileage (205,000km) does not put you off. Or spend a bit more (R329,900) on a 2012 car with 96,381km.

The BMW 330e.
The BMW 330e.
Image: Supplied

3. BMW ActiveHybrid3 and 330e (9.6%)

The sixth-generation F30 3-Series has ushered notable changes in comparison to what defined the lineage before. For example, it marked a complete departure from naturally aspirated engines. You could only have turbocharged power sources here. Secondly, it was the first occasion buyers could have a 3-Series with an electrified power train.

First with the ActiveHybrid3, which essentially strapped an electric motor to the already potent 335i of the day. When the 3-Series was facelifted, BMW took a more conservative approach with the plug-in 330e, reverting to a four-cylinder petrol unit. There were no 330e examples listed at the time of writing.

ActiveHybrid3 prices range from R239,000 (2013, 108,000km) to R319,900 (2014, 61,000km).

The Toyota Yaris HSD.
The Toyota Yaris HSD.
Image: Supplied

2. Toyota Yaris HSD (14.7%)

Our runner-up is also the fourth model from the Toyota corporation on our list. The HSD version of the Yaris debuted on local shores in 2012, in the third-generation version of the model. There is no hybrid version of the current Thailand-sourced Yaris that was launched in 2018.

The most expensive example we found was a 2015 model with 86,000km for R179,999.

The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine.
The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine.
Image: Supplied

1. Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine (25.1%)

Interestingly, the most searched-for hybrid in SA falls into a very elite category of large sport-utility vehicles costing in excess of R1m. The Volvo XC90 in any specification is a praiseworthy car, with supreme levels of cushiness, assertive styling and forward-thinking technologies that includes a semi-autonomous driving function.

The T8 Twin Engine had a basic new list price of R1,053,400 at launch in 2016. The cheapest one currently listed goes for R639,000 with 79,704km on the odometer.


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