Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe vs Volkswagen e-Golf

The Kia e-Niro, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model 3 all earned our maximum five-star rating, but what's the best electric car for less than £30k?...

New Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe vs Volkswagen e-Golf

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

Let’s face it: however much you care about the environment, you probably won’t buy an electric car unless it saves you money. However, there's good news if you’re a company car driver, because all three qualify for the lowest benefit-in-kind tax band of 16%, and that will plummet to 2% in 2020.

What does that mean if you aren’t up on your accounting? Well, over the next three years you’ll sacrifice roughly the same amount of your salary as if you’d plumped for a middle-of-the-range petrol Polo, with about £500 separating the Zoe, our cheapest option, and the e-Golf, the most expensive company car. But you’ll also be spending a lot less on fuel than you would in any petrol or diesel car.

New Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe vs Volkswagen e-Golf

However, if you’re buying privately with cash or on PCP finance, you’ll need to do a lot of miles before any of these cars actually start to save you cash. Even taking into account the £3500 grant from the Government you’ll get when buying an electric vehicle and the fact that you won’t pay any road tax, a small petrol hatchback is still likely to be a much cheaper option. The exception is if you regularly drive into London’s Congestion Charge zone, because you’ll avoid the £11.50 daily fee.

All three come with a Type 2 charging cable, but the Leaf and e-Golf also come with a three-pin domestic cable (a £560 option on the Zoe). This takes an age to charge the battery, although it’s handy for when you get caught short.

New Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe vs Volkswagen e-Golf

The Leaf has the most standard luxuries; it’s the only one with heated front seats and has the biggest wheels. The Zoe is the least generously equipped, with no front parking sensors and only manual cruise control (the others have adaptive cruise to automatically maintain a set distance from the car in front). However, the e-Golf is the only car without a standard heat pump for more efficient heating of the interior.

Mind you, the Zoe’s shortage of safety kit is more of a concern. You get just four airbags (the Leaf has six and the e-Golf seven) and there’s not even the option to add automatic emergency braking. The other two get this important safety aid as standard and the Leaf even adds traffic sign recognition and blindspot monitoring to its standard roster of safety aids.

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