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 the brightest sparks – and which are the loose connections?...
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.
Jaguar got a jump on most rivals in launching its first electric car, the I-Pace, and it remains an impressive machine, not least because it can travel more than 250 miles on a charge in real-world conditions. On top of this, it's fast, fun to drive and has the classiest interior of any Jaguar to date. Just bear in mind that there are newer alternatives that cost less to buy and can be charged at a faster rate.
- Big range between charges
- Entertaining handling
- Comfortable ride
- Poor rear visibility
- Pricier than some alternatives
- Rivals can charge at faster speeds
Like the I-Pace, 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.
- 64kWh model’s 250-mile-plus real-world range
- Quick acceleration in 64kWh
- Tidy handling and comfortable ride
- A fair bit pricier than an MG ZS EV
- Doesn't charge as quickly as a Tesla Model 3
- No Euro NCAP safety rating
The Ioniq 5 combines standout looks with an incredibly spacious and practical interior and lots of standard equipment. Ride comfort and refinement let the side down a bit if you go for the bigger alloy wheel options, but it’s still an appealing addition to the large electric car ranks.
- Rapid performance of range-topping model
- Super-fast charging speeds
- Enormously spacious interior
- Range is nothing special
- Not as comfortable as Volkswagen ID.4
- Quite a lot of road noise
It may be a slightly softer version of the Porsche Taycan, but be in no doubt that the E-tron GT is an awesome-handling electric car. It’s also fast, comfortable and reasonably practical. The Tesla Model S is quicker and roomier for families, though, and we favour (by a whisker) the Taycan for its extra agility.
- Potentially rapid charging
- Comfortable ride and great handling
- Very well equipped and strong resale values
- Ionity rapid chargers are few and far between
- Not as spacious as a Model S
- Low-speed motor whine and gearbox shunt
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.
- Longer range than most direct rivals
- Great infotainment system
- Comparatively well priced
- Not as fast as rivals
- Audi E-tron is quieter
- Tesla Model 3 has a longer range and faster charging
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.
- Decent range between charges
- Fun to drive around town
- Stacks up well financially
- Tiny rear seats
- Noisy on the motorway
- Rivals have longer electric ranges
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.
- Well priced
- Extremely practical
- Comfortable and easy to drive
- So-so performance by electric car standards
- A Volkswagen ID.3 is more fun to drive
- 80 and 80X versions don't qualify for government grant
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.
- Staggering performance
- Stunningly capable and fun in corners
- Wonderful interior quality
- It's very expensive...
- ...and you’ll probably want to add some options
- Its range is useful but far from class leading
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.
- Good electric range
- Sprightly performance
- Decent to drive
- Iffy interior quality, especially for the pricier versions
- Charging network weaker than Tesla’s
- Infotainment system needs some upgrades
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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- Savage acceleration
- Long range between charges
- Surprisingly practical
- Fast charging via Tesla's prolific Supercharger network
- Rivals are quieter on the move
- Handling not as entertaining as petrol rivals
- Some may find the ride a touch firm
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