The electric car market is evolving rapidly. Advanced battery technologies are helping to cut lengthy charge times and boost usable range. As a result, electric-powered vehicles make a more attractive prospect than ever. Here are the best models on sale now.
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- Renault Zoe
- BMW i3
- Nissan Leaf
- VW e-Golf
- Tesla Model X
- Tesla Model S
- VW e-Up
- Kia Soul EV
- Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
- Renault Twizy
1. Renault Zoe
The Renualt Zoe is a bit of an electric car bargain. Entry-level cars cost from just £18,500 but all models are eligible for the UK government’s Plug-In Car grant – this means you can deduct a healthy £4,500 from the asking price. As a result, you could find yourself behind the wheel of Renault’s futuristic Zoe for less than the price of a basic Ford Focus.
The Renault features striking styling and a Clio-inspired interior. There’s plenty of space for four people and, despite having to accommodate heavy batteries, its boot can carry a fair 338 litres of luggage. The Zoe is better suited to urban driving rather than motorway cruises but it’s still one of the most accomplished and affordable electric cars out there.
2. BMW i3
The BMW i3 has received rave reviews since it was first launched and it’s easy to see why. The car’s quirky looks certainly make it stand out from the crowd but it’s the fun driving experience, punchy performance and futuristic interior that’s got everyone talking.
Recent battery upgrades have boosted the i3’s claimed range to 195 miles but, if this isn’t enough for you, an optional two-cylinder petrol engine range extender makes it even more useable. All this convenience does, however, come at quite a price – entry-level cars will set you back £30,980 before the government’s £4,500 plug-in car grant.
Read our in-depth BMW i3 review for more information.
3. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is one of Britain’s best-selling electric cars. Recent updates have boosted its battery performance and extended the Leaf’s range to 155 miles. Inside, there’s a spacious, practical and well-equipped interior that not only looks futuristic but comes with plenty of equipment as standard.
The electric motor’s instant torque makes it feel quicker than many conventional petrol or diesel cars, especially around town. The Leaf is, however, slightly more expensive than most traditional family hatchbacks – entry-level models will set you back £21,000 before the government’s handy £4,500 plug-in electric car grant.
4. VW e-Golf
The VW e-Golf takes the standard car’s strong build quality, spacious interior and refined ride and adds a 113hp electric motor and 24.2kWh battery in place of a traditional petrol or diesel engine. It’s a sensible option for families looking for a practical hatchback with green credentials and plenty of standard equipment.
A full charge will, according to VW, power you along happily for 118 miles – less than some rivals but more than enough for the regular school run or an average daily commute. The e-Golf will set you back a wallet-aching £31,680 before the government grant, however – more than a top-spec Golf GTI.
5. Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X uses many components from the Model S saloon but boasts a beefier body with more interior space and seven seats. It mixes MPV practicality with SUV looks, a high-tech interior and signature gullwing rear doors that open upwards instead of outwards.
All four wheels are powered by an electric motor that provides impressive performance, excellent traction and – in entry-level 75D spec – a claimed 259-mile range. Trade up to a top-spec P100D model with a 336-mile range and you’ll find the price jumps from £55,000 to an eye-watering £121,800.
Read our full Tesla Model X review for more details.
6. Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S boasts an almost unrivalled blend of refinement, stylish design and effortless performance. Even entry-level 60 models can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and cover 248 miles between charges. Top-spec P100D versions can complete the same 0-62mph sprint in a mind-bending 2.5 seconds – effectively faster than any other road car currently on sale.
The Model S isn’t just a speed freak – it boasts a spacious cabin full of high-tech equipment including advanced autonomous driving systems and a huge 17-inch touchscreen infotainment display in the centre console. All this futuristic technology comes at a price, however – entry-level models will set you back nearly £50,000 while top-spec P100D versions cost more than £112,000.
Read our full Tesla Model S review for more information.
7. VW e-Up
The Volkswagen e-Up is a perky little city car that boasts ultra-cheap running costs and a near-silent driving experience thanks to its electric motor. It’s the quickest model in the Up range – its 84hp motor can sprint it from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds – but its range is limited to just less than 100 miles.
The e-Up is light and nimble, making it fun to throw around city streets. Its cabin is reasonably spacious and feels well built, while its 250-litre boot is generous for a car of such tiny dimensions. Despite its small size, the e-Up carries a hefty price tag – £25,105 before the £4,500 government grant.
8. Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV is a strong rival to the likes of the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe thanks to its minimal running costs, plenty of standard equipment and roomy cabin. The Soul EV’s batteries do cut into the available boot space, however – this plug-in version can only muster 281 litres compared to the standard car’s 354-litre capacity.
The Soul EV doesn’t feel quite as perky to drive as some rivals but it handles well and can travel a fairly impressive 130 miles between charges. As is the case with many electric vehicles, it does cost significantly more than a traditional petrol or diesel model – the Soul EV will set you back £24,995 with the government plug-in car grant factored in. It does come with Kia’s class-leading seven-year warranty, however.
9. Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
The Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive’s torquey electric motor, near-silent driving experience and impressive performance transform the medium-sized B-Class into a comfortable and refined MPV. Its plush and spacious interior features a smart design and plenty of standard equipment, too.
This all-electric model may only have a top speed of 99.5mph but it can reach 62mph from a standing start in just 7.9 seconds. Its 124-mile range is good – if not particularly ground breaking – while its £32,670 price tag comes in at approximately £2,000 less than a top-spec petrol or diesel model. Like other cars on our list, the B-Class Electric Drive is eligible for a £4,500 government grant.
10. Renault Twizy
The Renault Twizy, with its golf-cart looks and exposed driving position, is certainly a left-field choice. It is, however, easy to park, cheap to buy – entry-level versions cost from £6,895 – and costs very little to run too. Its 43-mile range is less than most rivals and its compact motor only produces 17hp but the Twizy is incredibly light and surprisingly fun to thread through tight city streets.
Its tandem seating layout means there’s room for two small adults and the smallest of suitcases. Its funky doorless design might look cool but you’ll certainly feel the chill if you plan on driving it in the winter – you may need to pair the optional £295 windows with a suitably thick coat to keep the worst British weather at bay.