Electric cars costing less than £40,000 are now the only way to access road-tax-free motoring following changes to the VED system on 1 April 2017. Don’t despair, however, because there are some seriously talented cars that fit the bill.
Here are the best road-tax-free cars on sale:
- Renault Zoe
- BMW i3
- Nissan Leaf
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric
- VW e-Golf
- Kia Soul EV
- VW e-Up
- Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
- Ford Focus Electric
- Renault Twizy
1. Renault Zoe
The Renault Zoe might look cute but it has the substance to back up its style. It might not be the most upmarket, the fastest or have the longest range here but it’s by far the cheapest ‘proper’ car in this list – discounting the technically doorless Twizy. What’s more, carwow dealers generally offer enormous discounts on this model, cementing its unbeatable value for money.
2. BMW i3
BMW’s i3 is an eye-catching electric car with the style of a concept car. Its minimalist cabin with unconventional materials and odd reverse-rear-door layout lend it some real character while its clever layout means there’s still enough interior space for four adults to sit comfortably. It’s even more impressive on the road with hot-hatch acceleration and a comparatively impressive 190-mile range.
3. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf was one of the first electric cars on sale that aimed to present as few compromises to drivers used to regular cars as possible. Its hatchback layout, well-built cabin and impressive refinement make it easy to live with, while nippy acceleration and a 155-mile range make it both fun and useable in the real world. The Leaf also has big discounts making it an easy pill for your wallet to swallow.
4. Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the Korean brand’s electric rival to the Leaf and offers a similarly easy driving and ownership experience. Its 174-mile range is enough to cover most buyers’ commutes while the electric motor helps it feel nippy and responsive in city traffic. Plentiful standard equipment including climate control, alloy wheels and an infotainment system makes it easy to live with.
5. VW e-Golf
Another car that makes the switch from fuel-driven cars easy is the VW e-Golf. Only trained eyes will be able to spot the difference between this and the myriad other Golfs on the road but a journey in the near-silent cabin helps set it apart. Its performance is modest and the 118-mile range is only mediocre in this company but the usual Golf strengths – refinement, ease-of-use and its classless image – remain.
6. Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV is a slightly left-field choice with its Tonka-toy square styling and bold features. Its boxy shape lends it a practical cabin while Kia’s usual sturdy build quality – backed up by its industry-leading seven-year warranty – is evident throughout. Being a little larger than some cars here, performance isn’t electrifying (sorry!) but it has enough oomph to comfortably keep pace with traffic.
7. VW e-Up
VW’s e-Up packs a silent-running electric powertrain into the Up’s tiny platform. This means it features the same benefits including a refined, well-built cabin, nippy performance and a premium image. Unfortunately, this great little package costs from a relatively steep £25,280, making it a little harder to justify than some of the more practical options here.
8. Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
The Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive features a battery and electric motor derived from Tesla technology so offers decent performance and a 124-mile range. It’s one of the pricier options on this list but you do get the coveted three-pointed-star badge on the nose. Its MPV body means it has more cabin space than the smaller A-Class but retains the city-friendly dimensions.
9. Ford Focus Electric
The electric version of the Ford Focus is by no means a bad car but its ageing platform coupled with its poor 100-mile range and low 85mph top speed mean it ranks ninth here. Like the Leaf or the Ioniq, it’s mostly a normal Focus underneath so doesn’t feel like a vast departure from normal car ownership but can’t hide the fact its in dire need of a redesign.
10. Renault Twizy
The Renault Twizy is an odd ball here. Doors and windows are optional and, without them, the driver and passenger – who sit in one in front of the other – are fully exposed to the elements. It’s fun to drive if only for its novelty but the harsh suspension and eventual frostbite will see the novelty quickly wear off. It’s the cheapest car here but, if your lifestyle can’t accept the Twizy’s compromises, you’ll wish you’d just bought a bus pass.
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