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(July 2018 update: The Jaguar I-Pace is the latest addition to our list of best electric cars. It’s not the cheapest car here, but it’s great fun to drive and practical, as well as having the low running costs you would expect of an electric car. Unfortunately, it means we wave goodbye to the VW e-Up, which is too expensive for a small car.)
Here are the 10 best electric cars on sale:
- Nissan Leaf
- Tesla Model S
- Jaguar I-Pace
- BMW i3
- Renault Zoe
- VW e-Golf
- Tesla Model X
- Kia Soul EV
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric
- Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
1. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is the UK’s best-selling electric car, and this latest version is better than ever. It’s still spacious, but loses the previous car’s somewhat awkward looks in favour of a more traditional appearance. It’s the extra driving range that’s the real selling point, though – it’ll travel up to 235 miles on a single charge, which is further than almost any other electric car at this price point.
It’s impressively quick for a small car and a doddle to drive in town, but the Leaf’s cabin is let down slightly by some cheap-feeling plastics and its regenerative braking system feels slightly strange at first.
2. Tesla Model S
Few electric cars can match the refinement, style and performance of the Tesla Model S. Entry-level versions can hit 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and go for 248 miles between charges, while top-spec P100D versions cut the 0-62mph time to a supercar-shaming 2.5 seconds. Aside from its sheer speed, the Model S also features a high-tech interior and a range of headline-grabbing autonomous driving systems that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways.
This tempting combination doesn’t come cheap, however – even the most basic Model S will set you back more than £70,000. And, although the Tesla’s interior build quality is good, it isn’t quite up to the same standards as other equally expensive cars.
3. Jaguar I-Pace
The Jaguar I-Pace blends the svelte body of a sports car with the more upright design of an SUV – so it looks as stylish as a Jaguar should, but is also very practical. You’ll find it also drives with the agility expected of a Jaguar – its clever four-wheel-drive system sending power to whichever of its wheels has the most grip – yet can travel 300 miles on a charge. That said, it isn’t cheap and if you’re look for the ultimate performance electric car then you’re still better off with the Tesla model S.
4. BMW i3
The BMW i3 mixes the German manufacturer’s high-quality finish and fun driving experience with quirky styling and city-friendly diminutive dimensions. It’s punchy on the road and has a 195-mile range that can be increased if you choose the range-extender version.
Sadly, its futuristic looks won’t appeal to everyone and the i3’s small boot means you’ll struggle to carry anything larger than a big weekly shop. It’s not particularly cheap, either, but the blow to your wallet is softened by the government’s £4,500 plug-in car grant.
5. Renault Zoe
The Renault Zoe is significantly more affordable than most electric cars on our list, but still comes with an impressive 250-mile claimed range. It’s a striking-looking small car, with smart-looking design elements borrowed from the Clio and lots of cabin space – the boot will easily swallow 338 litres of luggage, despite having to accommodate the battery.
The standard-fit seven-inch touchscreen is easy to use and comes with satellite navigation as standard, but the Zoe’s interior comes with a disappointing number of cheap scratchy plastics. At least the glossy centre console and leather-trimmed steering wheel feel plush and upmarket.
6. VW e-Golf
The Volkswagen e-Golf features all the benefits of the standard Golf including excellent build quality, a roomy interior and comfortable suspension, but adds peppy, near-silent performance from its 113hp electric motor. The 118-mile range means it’s a sensible option for families looking for an electric car.
Unfortunately, it’ll set you back as much as £10,000 more than an equally powerful petrol-powered Golf (before the government grant), but the electric version does come with plenty of standard equipment including a high-resolution eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
7. Tesla Model X
Tesla’s Model X uses the same mechanical underpinnings as the Model S, but drops a larger seven-seat body onto them. This means you get the same head-spinning acceleration and similarly impressive battery range, but with a little more room for passengers and luggage. Marking it out from its smaller saloon sibling are the unique ‘falcon wing’ rear doors that open upwards, making it surprisingly easy to get in and out of the back seats.
Unfortunately, it’s not much cheaper than the slinkier saloon – even entry-level cars will hit you with a bill for £55,000 – but if you’re dying to stand out in the supermarket car park, few cars do as good a job as the eye-popping Model X.
8. Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV is a boxier, SUV-style alternative to the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf. Its running costs are minimal, the cabin is roomy and its chunky styling helps it stand out from other electric cars at a public charging point.
It’s not quite as much fun to drive as some alternatives and its 281-litre boot isn’t the most spacious around but it’s very quiet on the move and has a 130-mile range. It costs £24,495 before the government grant, but Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty softens that blow somewhat.
9. Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a worthy alternative to the Nissan Leaf and VW e-Golf. It’s easy to drive with instant acceleration from the electric motor and a decent 174-mile range. The car looks striking, too, with plenty of space inside and lots of standard kit – even basic models get cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system.
Unfortunately, the Ioniq Electric’s Achilles’ heel is its price. It costs almost £30,000 before the government grant, which is around £8,000 more than the standard hybrid Ioniq – a car that isn’t limited by the range of its electric drive system.
10. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is a two-seat city car that’s an absolute doddle to drive around town. Its minute size means you can easily squeeze into tight parking spots and nip down congested side streets without worrying about losing your door mirrors. This Electric Drive model is even cheaper to run than the standard petrol-powered car and comes with a perfectly usable 100-mile range.
Sadly, it’s not quite as comfortable over rough roads as some larger electric cars and its compact boot will struggle to hold anything larger than a couple of small suitcases. Still, if its a funky-looking electric car you’re after and you have somewhere in the city to charge it overnight, the ForTwo makes a great commuting vehicle.
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