Best electric cars 2021

Sales of electric cars are booming, and no wonder: the best are quiet, cheap to run and smooth to drive. But which are those bright sparks – and which are the loose connections?...


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What Car? team

Best electric cars

Electric cars are now entering the mainstream, accounting for 6.6% of new car sales last year. What's more, their rise is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities.

The main thing that has traditionally prevented them selling in greater numbers is range anxiety – the fear that you won’t have enough juice to get to where you’re going. However, with plenty of models now capable of covering more than 200 miles between charges, this is becoming less of an issue.

So, which electric cars should you consider? Here, we count down our top 10 and reveal the one to avoid.

10

Jaguar I-Pace

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£61,687

RRP from £65,245 to £76,695

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Jaguar’s first ever electric car can travel for more than 250 miles on a charge in real-world conditions. What's more, it's fast, fun to drive and has the classiest interior of any Jaguar to date. There are rivals that cost less to buy and can be charged at a faster rate, but the I-Pace is still a very appealing choice.

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Pros

  • Big range between charges
  • Entertaining handling
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • Poor rear visibility
  • Pricier than some alternatives
  • Rivals can charge at faster speeds
9

Peugeot e-208

The e-208 has a higher quality interior than the rival Renault Zoe, along with more rear head room and extra safety kit. There's no compromise on boot space compared with petrol versions of the 208, either, but like them it has a driving position that won't suit some people.

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Pros

  • Eye-catching, classy-feeling interior
  • Decent to drive
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • The Renault Zoe can cover more miles between charges
  • Mushy brake pedal
  • Not the cheapest
8

Kia e-Niro

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£32,845

RRP from £32,845 to £39,395

Like the cars above, the e-Niro banishes range anxiety. In fact, the 253 miles that it managed in our Real Range test is one of the best figures we've recorded so far. You also get good practicality, performance, comfort and equipment, although prices have risen significantly since 2019, when we named the e-Niro our Car of the Year.

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Pros

  • 64kWh model’s 250-mile-plus range in real-world driving
  • Quick acceleration in 64kWh
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • A fair bit pricier than an MG ZS EV
  • Doesn't charge as quickly as a Tesla Model 3
  • No Euro NCAP safety rating
7

Volkswagen ID.4

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£34,650

RRP from £34,650 to £49,990

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For the money, the Volkswagen ID.4 is a very good car. It’s practical, the 77kWh battery provides a great electric range, you get lots of standard equipment (in 1st Edition trim) and it’s pretty comfortable and quiet on the move. We think the closely related Skoda Enyaq iV offers even better value, though.

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Pros

  • 310-miles official range (77kWh battery)
  • Relatively cheap to buy and run
  • Well equipped (1st Edition trim)

Cons

  • Not fast by class standards
  • Surefooted but mundane handling
  • Poor infotainment and dashboard usability
6

BMW iX3

Aside from some styling details and the fact the combustion engine has been replaced with an electric motor, the iX3 is essentially a BMW X3 – and that's a good thing. It means you're getting a practical and classy SUV with the best infotainment system around. And it means it steers and handles better than rivals, while also providing a comfortable ride. Zero emissions and a long range between charges are merely very welcome bonuses.

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Pros

  • Longer range than most direct rivals
  • Great infotainment system
  • Comparatively well priced

Cons

  • Not as fast as rivals
  • E-tron is quieter
  • Tesla Model 3 has a longer range and faster charging
5

Fiat 500

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£12,874

RRP from £13,275 to £29,995

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If ever a car was born for urban driving, it’s the new Fiat 500. It's shorter than its key rivals, so fits into spaces they won’t, while a tight turning circle, ultra-light steering and great forward visibility make it especially easy to manoeuvre as it darts around tight city streets in a refined, smooth manner. As a bonus, it has a good range, so isn't just limited to the urban sprawl. And, of course, unlike rivals, it's available as a convertible.

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Pros

  • Decent range between charges
  • Fun to drive around town
  • Stacks up well financially

Cons

  • Tiny rear seats
  • Noisy on the motorway
  • Rivals can go even farther on a charge
4

Skoda Enyaq iV

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£34,495

RRP from £34,495 to £42,900

The Skoda Enyaq is practical, good to drive, smart inside and well-equipped. Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is the value it offers – the ‘60’ version is priced in line with smaller alternatives, including the Kia e-Niro, and is eligible for a £2500 grant from the Government.

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Pros

  • Well priced
  • Extremely practical
  • Comfortable and easy to drive

Cons

  • So-so performance by electric car standards
  • ‘80’ version is not eligible for a government grant
3

Porsche Taycan

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£70,745

RRP from £70,745 to £139,221

If you're looking for all the usual electric car benefits but want something that's also absolutely thrilling to drive, the Porsche Taycan is the car for you. It's even reasonably practical and wonderfully classy inside, so while it's certainly not cheap, it's worth every penny.

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Pros

  • Staggering performance
  • Stunningly capable and fun in corners
  • Wonderful interior quality

Cons

  • Very expensive...
  • ...and you’ll still want to add options
  • Range isn’t spectacular
2

Volkswagen ID.3

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£30,341

RRP from £30,870 to £42,600

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Thanks to rear-wheel drive, accurate steering and fine body control, the ID.3 is enjoyable to drive. What's more, its practicality is up with the roomiest family hatchbacks, predicted resale values are superb and it’ll be cheap to run for both company car drivers and private buyers. Throw in strong performance and a long range, and it's a brilliant choice.

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Pros

  • Good electric range
  • Sprightly performance
  • Decent to drive

Cons

  • Iffy interior quality, especially for the pricier versions
  • Charging network weaker than Tesla’s
  • Infotainment system needs some upgrades
1

Tesla Model 3

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£40,990

RRP from £40,990 to £59,990

Few cars received as much hype before their launch as the Model 3, and even fewer can match what it offers in reality. Tesla's most affordable car is great to drive, packed full of tech, fast (ridiculously so in Performance guise) and surprisingly practical. Factor in a competitive price, especially given its sheer pace, and it’s not only the best all-round electric car on sale today, but one of the best choices full stop.

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Pros

  • Savage acceleration
  • Long range between charges
  • Surprisingly practical
  • Fast charging via Tesla's prolific Supercharger network

Cons

  • Build quality could be better
  • Handling not as entertaining as petrol rivals
  • Some may find the ride a touch firm

And the electric car to avoid...

Smart Forfour EQ
Smart ForFour EQ 2020 LHD press tracking

Although the Forfour EQ is relatively cheap to buy, you could get a Renault Zoe for similar money, with the latter offering more space and more than double the range between charges. Read our review

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