Best Electric Cars
The electric age is upon us. As the world wakes up to the need to drastically reduce emissions, electric vehicles are rapidly moving from a niche interest to the immediate future of motoring for us all. If you're a long-time petrol-head, take a look at some of the sportier models below, a few of which offer astonishing acceleration alongside futuristic good looks. Of course, there are plenty of more down-to-earth options too, with electric city cars in particular offering vastly cheaper running costs (as long as you can charge them often enough). Check out our list of ten of the best electric cars.
1. Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S feels like it has a point to prove – that for electric cars, sensible environmentalism doesn’t have to be at the expense of fun. It’s one of the most advanced electric cars out there and performs like a supercar, with the corresponding looks, and is bristling with state-of-the-art tech. The entry-level model will do 0-60 mph in four seconds and comes equipped with automatic driving modes and a huge infotainment touchscreen. It will cost you much less to charge than filling up a comparable petrol or diesel car would, and also avoids the London congestion charge.
2. BMW i3
Since its launch in 2013, the BMW i3 has pioneered the idea of the electric car as a desirable and aspirational purchase. Its showy appearance and high-level performance set out to prove that an electric car needn’t be just a utilitarian vehicle, and a number of upgrades during its short lifetime have aimed to keep it relevant in a fast-developing marketplace. Though it does slightly struggle to keep up with new rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Kia e-Niro, particularly when it comes to safety considerations. The i3 is also available in a sportier i3s variant.
3. Tesla Model X
With the SUV market continuing to grow, Tesla’s Model X is expected to outsell the Model S saloon globally. It delivers similarly eye-catching performance in a more practically shaped body, so ticks a lot of boxes for people who want an environmentally friendly family car that’s fun to drive and show off. Tesla calls it an SUV, but it’s not intended to be driven off-road, and the sloping rear roofline makes it more of a crossover. The Performance version offers an aptly named Ludicrous mode that will take you from 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds, while the Bioweapon Defence Mode claims to filter bacteria and viruses from air entering the cabin.
4. Jaguar I-Pace
This electric SUV from Jaguar delivers sensational performance, with an impressive real-world range that makes it much more than just a statement piece. Factor in the good looks you’d expect from the classic British maker, plus plenty of room inside, and you can see why it’s such a desirable car. One electric motor powers the front wheels while another powers the rear, delivering a combined 400 bhp that’s worthy of a proper sports car. In terms of price, it competes with the Tesla Model S, though you’ll need to charge it on the slower regular public chargers.
5. Mercedes Benz ECQ
The first fully-electric Mercedes is a luxury SUV that competes with the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X, sitting in between them in terms of size. As you’d expect from any Merc, its twin electric motors deliver outstanding performance. There’s plenty of room in the front, though the Audi e-Tron offers more space for passengers in the back. It’s generally less practical than the e-Tron, and less quick and fun than the I-Pace, but if you’re looking for a compromise between these two, the ECQ is a solid option.
6. Nissan Leaf
Launched in 2011, the Nissan Leaf was one of the first all-electric cars to go on sale in the UK. The range is decent for a first-generation electric car, though the 30 kWh model introduced in 2016 came with some big improvements. Comfortable, quiet and enjoyable to drive, the Leaf’s pre-2013 models are configured more for city driving, while the firmer suspension on the later models offers more stability on the open road. It’s a great all-round option if an electric car fits into your lifestyle. To figure out whether it does, you’ll need to consider the length of trips you’ll be making, and where you’re going to charge it.
7. Hyundai Ioniq
As well as the fully electric variant, the Hyundai Ioniq is available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. All versions are designed for ease of use, and the pure electric version is ideal for driving around town. Its motor delivers punchy acceleration at low revs, so you can pull away from the lights without making any noise. Push it above 50 mph and it feels less impressive – a trait it shares with most electric hatchbacks. Depending on your driving habits, it could easily work out much cheaper to run than a petrol alternative, and benefits from one of the longest warranties available.
8. Audi e-tron
The Audi e-tron is a big, high-end electric SUV, competing in this section of the market with the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and the Mercedes ECQ. Selling points for the e-tron include charging ports on both sides, aerodynamic alloy wheels and a suspension that lifts up for extra ground clearance. The comfort of the ride is up there with the best, and it’s quieter than any of its rivals. Acceleration doesn’t match others in its class, but it still delivers more than 300 bhp and does 0-60 in 6.8 seconds. If a slightly lower range isn’t an issue for you, you can enjoy this lavish interior for very competitive costs.
9. Renault Zoe
Tempted by the idea of an electric car but put off by the price or the range between charges? The Renault Zoe might just be the answer to your conundrum. It’s cheaper to buy than most rivals and can do nearly 200 miles on a full charge. It’s been on the market for almost 10 years, so there’s a wide range of second-hand models available. Its most recent upgrade was in 2020, giving it a better infotainment system and improved performance and range, with a choice of three trims and two engines.
10. Volkswagen e-up!
If you’re looking for an electric car for pootling around town, the e-up! is worth a look. There are no trim or propulsion options to choose from, but there are plenty of roof colours and interior inserts for personalisation. It feels great to drive, it’s easy to park and it comes with an impressive array of equipment. One thing it doesn’t have, though, is automatic emergency braking. It’s a good option for city driving, but it might be worth considering whether you could stretch your budget to the Renault Zoe, which beats the e-up! in terms of range, passenger space and interior quality.
Keen to find out more? Visit our electric cars hub for detailed information on each model, including trim options, what it’s like to drive and running costs. Browse our selection of electric cars for sale to find the one that meets your needs.