Buying a used electric car or hybrid is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, there are now some excellent used green cars out there that are worth your hard-earned wedge. Here are the best of them
*** Note : £1 = $1.34 (correct at time of post)
Think electric cars and hybrids are only for new car buyers? Think again. Now that these cleaner, greener technologies have been around for a few years, they’re filtering down nicely into the used market, meaning there’s now a plug-in car out there to spark (groan – editor) everyone’s imagination.
And you don’t have to put up with driving around in something weedy and deeply abhorrent, either. Many of these used electric cars and hybrids are now genuinely desirable, with useable electric ranges, comfortable rides and electrifying (stop with the rubbish electric car puns – ed) performance.
To prove it, here are our top 10 used green cars – plus, as ever, two with all the appeal of a flat battery (you’re fired – ed).
10. BMW i8
The BMW i8 is about as close to a hybrid supercar as you can get without spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on a McLaren P1 or something suchlike. And while it doesn’t quite have the sharpness of some sports car rivals, the i8 is nevertheless very good fun to drive, with great body control, loads of grip, instant throttle response and fabulous performance. Of course, as it’s a plug-in hybrid, you can also bimble around town on electric-only power, and if you use it right, the i8’s fuel economy is impressive too.
We found: 2014 i8, 24,000 miles, £58,500
9. Audi A3 E-tron
Blending the Audi A3’s classy interior and smart looks with a plug-in hybrid powerplant, the A3 E-tron offers the best of both worlds. Only a steep price prevents it from finishing higher in the rankings here – but if you’re willing to stretch to its not insignificant cost, the E-tron is a genuinely good all-rounder.
We found: 2016 E-tron, 16,000 miles, £24,000
8. Kia Soul EV
If you’re after a small SUV with electric power and enough room for all your family needs, the Kia Soul EV could be the answer. It can’t match some other EVs for range, and neither is it the most refined or upmarket feeling thing inside, but it does offer loads of space inside – and of course, you get the balance of Kia’s seven-year warranty to add extra peace-of-mind.
We found: 2015 EV, 9,000 miles, £15,499
7. Toyota Prius
As a minicab the Toyota Prius has become truly ubiquitous – but that’s to the used buyer’s advantage, because it means they’re everywhere now. Obviously, you’ll need to choose with care, but do so and a Prius will reward you with miles of reliable service, plenty of room, and as long as you stick to town driving, very impressive fuel economy too. OK, it’s hardly the most exciting thing in the road and the ride comfort is so-so – but if what you want is an easy and undemanding way into family-friendly green car ownership, this is it.
We found: 2011 T3, 63,000 miles, £8489
6. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf has been the best-selling electric car for a while now, and that bodes well for used car buyers as it means plenty of choice on the market and low prices – indeed, the Leaf is about the only fully electric car family-sized car available at this price. Keep in mind that the cheapest Leafs will have a leased battery, though, which will mean there’s a monthly charge to pay – though even with this extra cost, you should still find a Leaf is a very cost-effective alternative as there are no fuel bills. It should be a reliable one, too.
We found: 2011 24kWh, 24,000 miles, £7495
5. Vauxhall Ampera
You might struggle to find a Vauxhall Ampera, because not many of them were sold when it was new. But if you can, you should – the Ampera is comfortable, quiet and spacious. It uses its combination of petrol engine and electric motor cleverly, too, meaning you can run it on electric-only mode far more than most other plug-in hybrids. Keep in mind, though, that it’s only a four-seater.
We found: 2013 Electron, 12,000 miles, £13,994
4. Volkswagen Golf GTE
With sporty styling that apes the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it’s no wonder the plug-in hybrid GTE version of the Golf has proven so popular. It doesn’t come cheap – you’ll pay more than you will for either a GTI or a diesel GTD – but if you can run the GTE on electric-only power for some of your driving, you may well save more than you’ll spend. And, of course, you get the Golf’s top-notch interior, superb ride-and-handling balance, and spacious interior thrown in.
We found: 2015 GTE, 22,000 miles, £21,991
3. Honda CR-Z
Who says buying a great value green car has to mean missing out on driving fun? The Honda CR-Z proves otherwise. With its great handling and manual gearbox it involves you in the action, but like most hybrids it’s frugal around town. Prices are low, reliability is high, and the CR-Z looks fantastic, to boot. Sure, there’s not much room in the back, but that’s par for the course with a coupe – otherwise, there’s lots to love here.
We found: 2010 GT, 31,000 miles, £6972
2. BMW 330e
Smooth, quiet, comfortable and great to drive – all descriptions that can be applied to any BMW 3 Series, so that they also stand true for the 330e is a mark of this car’s completeness. The powertrain is potent, and in all-electric mode, the refinement is excellent; the 330e rides and handles as well as any other 3 Series, too, which is quite an accomplishment given its extra weight. And considering what you get for your cash, it’s not bad value.
We found: 2017 330e, 12,000 miles, £23,992
1. Renault Zoe
The Renault Zoe would already be a highly recommendable used car purchase even if it wasn’t such great value, thanks to its comfortable ride, engaging handling and sensible amount of space. That it’s also so cheap to buy is the icing on the cake. OK, so on the cheapest examples you’ll have to pay a monthly battery lease – but the upside of this is that Renault throws in breakdown recovery and guarantees it’ll replace the battery if it drops below 75% for the life of the car. A small car of this age at this price is a great deal in anyone’s book – but when it’s this good, and will save you so much money on fuel, it’s a steal.
We found: 2015 Dynamique Nav, 22,000 miles, £6990
Ones to avoid – Honda Insight
It’s spacious and well-equipped, but that’s all the Honda Insight has going for it. Vague handling, a lumpen ride, sluggish performance and poor interior quality are all reasons to stay away.
Ones to avoid – Citroen DS5 Hybrid4
The Citroen DS5 (latterly just DS 5) suffers from an overly stiff ride, a cramped interior and stodgy handling. In Hybrid4 form, it’s also expensive to buy and not that efficient.