The best electric cars you can buy

Electric car sales are booming, and no wonder: the best are quiet, cheap to run and smooth to drive. But which are the bright sparks worth considering – and which are the loose connections?...

Electric cars are now entering the mainstream, accounting for 6.7% of new car sales in September.

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 from 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 What Car?'s top 10 and tell you the one to avoid.

10. Seat Mii Electric

Seat Mii Electric 2020 front tracking

If you're looking for a small electric car to primarily use in the city, the Mii Electric should definitely be on your shortlist. It might not have the battery capacity – and therefore range – of some alternatives, but that means its price is lower, and the 111 miles that it managed in our Real Range test is still enough for many people's needs.

Seat Mii Electric (cont.)

Seat Mii Electric 2020 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £22,800

Pros:
Competitive pricing
Comfortable ride
Great in town

Cons:
Only four seats
Rivals (albeit more expensive ones) go farther
Old-school interior

9. Polestar 2

Polestar 2 front cornering - 2020 car

The second model from Volvo spinoff Polestar (hence the name) is a thrillingly quick electric executive car with an exquisite interior and the ability to go a long way between charges. Just bear in mind that the similarly-priced Telsa Model 3 Performance is better to drive, more practical and has access to a better charging network.

Polestar 2 (cont.)

Polestar 2 dashboard - 2020 car

What Car? Target Price from £49,900

Pros:
Brilliant performance
Decent official range
Classy interior

Cons:
Road noise
Weight compromises agility
Limited rear head room

8. Audi E-tron

Audi E-tron front three quarters

The Audi E-tron doesn’t feel as sporty to drive as the rival Jaguar I-Pace, and it has a shorter range. However, it’s the classier of the two inside and the quieter cruiser. In a first for a production car, buyers can improve the aerodynamics by opting to remove the E-tron’s door mirrors and replace them with cameras that feed into small screens inside.

Audi E-tron (cont.)

Audi E-tron interior

What Car? Target Price from £55,509 RRP from £60,600 to £93,500 Save up to £7,887

Pros:
Cosetting ride
Very smooth and quiet
Spacious and luxurious interior

Cons:
Disappointing range
Fiddly infotainment system
Jaguar I-Pace is more fun

7. Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh

The powerful 64kWh Kona Electric blasts range anxiety out of the water, travelling 259 miles between charges in our hands. It's also reasonably priced and well equipped, although the closely related Kia e-Niro offers more rear space and is better to drive.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric

What Car? Target Price from £38,135 RRP £38,900 to £41,500 Save at least £765

Pros:
250-mile-plus range in real-world driving (64kWh battery)
Strong acceleration
Even the base model is well equipped

Cons:
You’re unlikely to get a big discount
Rear seat space is limited
Doesn’t ride as well as the Kia e-Niro or Peugeot e-208

6. Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe front cornering

The Zoe’s main strength is that it feels like a conventional, stylish, nippy small car, and just happens to cost pennies to run. The electric motor has enough shove for the Zoe to lead the charge away from traffic lights, and its interior has room for four to sit in reasonable comfort. Even the boot is larger than you’ll find in many regular small cars; it's easily big enough for a family's weekly shopping.

Renault Zoe (cont.)

Renault Zoe dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £27,579 RRP from £29,995 to £34,495 Save up to £2,788

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

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

5. Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace

The I-Pace SUV is Jaguar’s first electric car, and can drive for more than 250 miles between charges in real-world conditions. It can also be charged to 80% of capacity in just 90 minutes, and its futuristic interior features two 12.0in screens and another 5.5in screen for climate settings. Add in fun handling, and it's a very appealing option.

Jaguar I-Pace (cont.)

Jaguar I-Pace - interior

What Car? Target Price from £62,448 RRP from £65,195 to £74,395 Save up to £3,138

Pros:
Big range between charges
Entertaining handling
Futuristic looks

Cons:
Expensive to buy
Poor rear visibility
Road noise

4. Porsche Taycan

2020 Porsche Taycan front cornering

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, although all of this does come at a high price.

Porsche Taycan (cont.)

2020 Porsche Taycan dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £83,635

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

3. Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro 2020 RHD right front tracking

The e-Niro is another car that banishes range anxiety, managing 253 miles when we put it to the test. It also offers good practicality, performance, comfort and equipment – and all for a competitive price. In fact, we rate the e-Niro so highly we made it our 2019 Car of the Year.

Kia e-Niro (cont.)

Kia e-Niro 2020 RHD dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £32,595

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

2. Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208 front cornering

Small electric cars don't come any better than the Peugeot e-208; it 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, and you can expect to do almost 200 miles between charges.

Peugeot e-208 (cont.)

Peugeot e-208 dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £25,583 RRP £26,025 to £30,275 Save at least £442

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 electric option

1. Tesla Model 3

EXECUTIVE CAR: Tesla Model 3 Performance

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 yet 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 a great electric car but one of the best executive cars you can buy, too.

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Tesla Model 3 (cont.)

EXECUTIVE CAR: Tesla Model 3 Performance dashboard

What Car? Target Price from £43,490 RRP from £43,490 to £56,490

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

What about the electric car to avoid?

And the electric car to avoid...

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.  

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