The best electric cars you can buy today

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?...

Electric cars are now entering the mainstream, accounting for 6.6% of new car sales last year.

Best electric cars

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. Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV front cornering

It might look like a bit of an oddball, but the Soul EV actually makes a lot of sense, because it offers strong performance, an impressively long range and comes very well equipped. Just bear in mind that, while its usefully compact by SUV standards, this does cause the boot to be on the small side. Range? 250 miles+

Kia Soul EV (cont.)

Kia Soul EV dashboard

Good driving position
Impressive driving range
Long equipment list

Relatively small boot
Fidgety ride
Rear seats could be more flexible

9. Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace 2021 right panning

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.

Jaguar I-Pace (cont.)

Jaguar I-Pace 2021 RHD dashboard

Big range between charges
Entertaining handling
Futuristic looks

Poor rear visibility
BMW iX3 is cheaper
Rivals can charge at faster speeds

8. Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe long-term test static

The Zoe is one of the cheapest electric cars you can buy new – both outright and on PCP finance. Plus, running costs are low and it has a longer range than many rivals. Peugeot's e-208 is a better all-rounder, though. Range? Reckon on around 150 miles.

Renault Zoe (cont.)

Renault Zoe dashboard

Longer range than similar-priced alternatives
Smart interior – particularly on the posher trim levels
R135 has punchy acceleration

Rear head room could be better
Driving position is flawed
Automatic emergency braking unavailable on entry-level trim

7. Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208 2021 front tracking

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. Range? Around 200 miles.

Peugeot e-208 (cont.)

Peugeot e-208 2021 RHD dashboard

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

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

6. Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro front

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.

Kia e-Niro (cont.)

Kia e-Niro dashboard

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

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

5. BMW iX3

BMW iX3 2021 front

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. Real world range? Around 220 miles.

BMW iX3 (cont.)

BMW iX3 2020 Dashboard

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

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

4. Fiat 500

Fiat 500 2021 LHD wide front tracking

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 of around 120 miles, so isn't just limited to the urban sprawl. And, of course, unlike rivals, it's available as a convertible.

Fiat 500 (cont.)

Fiat 500 2021 LHD dashboard

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

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

3. Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan 2021 COTY

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. The standard 79kWh has a claimed range of 268 miles, while the 93kWh Performance Battery Plus variant has a claimed 301-mile range.

Porsche Taycan (cont.)

2020 Porsche Taycan dashboard

Staggering performance
Stunningly capable and fun in corners
Wonderful interior quality

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

2. Volkswagen ID.3

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 COTY

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. Buyers will also choose between three battery packs: 48kWh (for a 205-mile WLTP range), 58kWh (261 miles) and 77kWh (342 miles).

Volkswagen ID.3 (cont.)

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 dashboard

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

1. Tesla Model 3

2021 Tesla Model 3 LR front cornering

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. The Standard Range Plus is WLTP-certified for 254 miles of claimed range and the Long Range steps that up to 348 miles. The Performance, meanwhile, has a claimed range of 329 miles.

Tesla Model 3 (cont.)

2021 Tesla Model 3 LR dash

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

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. Its 70-mile range will be tiresome for most drivers.

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