Electric cars are growing in popularity, and no wonder: they’re quiet, cheap to run and smooth to drive. But which are the bright sparks to consider – and which are the loose connections?
*** Note : £1 = $1.30
10. Volkswagen e-Up
The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars, and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It’s just that unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models.
9. Nissan Leaf
One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astraand similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that allows a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles, and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.
8. Toyota Mirai
The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you’ll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It’s powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled, but at around £66,000 it’s certainly pricey, and with limited volumes coming to the UK it’s likely to be a very rare sight.
7. Kia Soul EV
The Soul EV is Kia’s first attempt at an electric car, and is actually better to drive than the petrol model. For starters, it feels more eager, thanks to the instant torque from its electric motor. What’s more, it’s quiet and decent to drive. However, problems include a high price and an interior that feels rather cheap.
6. Tesla Model X
On paper, Tesla’s all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren’t short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.
5. Hyundai Ioniq
The Ioniq is really three cars in one – it’s available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we’re including here has a range of 174 miles, and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.
4. Volkswagen e-Golf
Unlike purpose-built electric cars such as the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, the e-Golf is based on a conventional hatchback. However, this is no bad thing, because it means it has all the good points of the regular Golf, along with greatly reduced running costs.
3. BMW i3
A smart interior and great handling make the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today, while its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor. In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a Range Extender model with a two-cylinder petrol engine that can generate extra power for the car’s batteries.
2. Tesla Model S
The quiet and comfortable Model S saloon is as capable as it is desirable, offering staggering performance and an impressive range for an electric car. It’s practical, too, with seating for up to seven, while almost all of the car’s controls are accessed via a massive 17in touchscreen that’s easy to personalise and updates wirelessly.
1. Renault Zoe
The Zoe’s main strength is that it feels like a conventional, stylish, nippy small car, and just happens to cost pennies to run. The electric motor has enough shove for the Zoe to lead the charge away from traffic lights, and the interior has room for four to sit in reasonable comfort. Even the boot is larger than you’ll find in many regular small cars; it’s easily big enough for a family’s weekly shopping.
Electric cars to avoid
Small and cheaply made, the e2o is also quite expensive for what it is. Yes, it’ll save you money on the congestion charge, but you’d be better off with any other car on this list.
In certain circumstances, the Twizy can be quite good fun – but those circumstances are so rare in the UK that it’s hard to recommend. A firm ride and poor weatherproofing make it an occasional car at best.
Electric cars worth waiting for
Tesla Model 3
The Model 3 will be Tesla’s most affordable product to date. A fully electric rival to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 saloons, it’s expected to cost from £35,000. It will be capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in less than 6.0sec, while still offering as much as 250 miles of range on one charge.
The I-Pace SUV is Jaguar’s first electric car, and will be able to drive for more than 310 miles on a single charge when it goes on sale next year. The I-Pace can be charged to 80% of capacity in just 90 minutes from a conventional charging point, and its futuristic interior features two 12.0in screens and another 5.5in screen for climate settings. Prices are expected to start from around £60,000.