Electric Car Awards 2023: Best electric executive car
With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best electric executive car...
The sleek, almost button-free Apple iPhone was unveiled in 2007, and overnight every other mobile phone suddenly looked terribly old-fashioned. And similarly, the Tesla Model 3 redefined perceptions of what a sensibly priced electric car should offer when it went on sale in the UK back in 2019.
As a result, the Model 3 arrived in the executive car class with not just a splash but a tsunami, and other manufacturers are still struggling to catch up. The BMW i4 is its closest rival and outshines it when it comes to interior quality and ride comfort, but the Model 3 either equals or betters that car in most other areas, not least practicality. That’s because, while the i4 shares much of its structure with the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé, the Model 3’s design isn’t compromised by having to suit combustion power.
As a result, you get a 92-litre storage area (or frunk) where the engine would otherwise be, on top of the 450-litre boot at the back. The i4’s boot is actually a touch bigger, at 470 litres, and its hatchback makes loading easier than the Model 3’s saloon-style bootlid. However, the Model 3’s boot is a more useful shape and is complemented by a huge underfloor storage area, helping it to swallow nine carry-on suitcases to the i4’s seven, with the frunk taking one more for luck.
The Model 3 is roomier for passengers, too, particularly in the back; the curvature of its roof gives occupants more head room, and whoever sits in the middle seat has no floor hump to straddle, unlike in the i4. With light flooding in through the deeper windows and standard panoramic glass roof, the Model 3 also feels airier.
The dual-motor Performance model grabs headlines with its 3.3sec 0-62mph sprint, but our favourite version, the single-motor RWD (rear-wheel drive), is still no slouch, turning in a 5.8sec time. Plus, it feels more agile than the i4 and the Hyundai Ioniq 6.
The Model 3 RWD handily undercuts the Ioniq 6 on price, too, and is quite a lot cheaper than the i4. As a bonus, it grants you full access to Tesla’s reliable and ultra-fast Supercharger public charging network, which – at the car’s 170kW peak charging rate – can boost its 57.5kWh (usable) battery from 10-80% in around 25 minutes. Tesla does allow drivers of other cars to use some of its chargers, but they’ll pay a lot more for the privilege.
Add in the fact that the Model 3 uses electricity more efficiently than any rival in the real world and for now it remains unbeatable.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here