Used Car of the Year Awards 2023: Electric cars
With living costs on the rise, getting a good deal on your next car is more important than ever. That's where our Used Car Awards come in. These are our favourite electric cars...
Tesla Model 3
Price from £37,000 Our pick Standard Range Plus
If you buy a holiday home in some idyllic corner of the land, you might initially gawp at the price. But when you factor in years’ worth of excellent holidays, it begins to look like good value. It’s the same with the Tesla Model 3. You won’t save as much on its price if you buy used as you would on some other electric cars, but if you can charge it up at home (where prices are cheapest) and plan to keep it for a long time, it can still work out to be a bargain.
The good news doesn’t stop with simple pounds and pence, either. You can rely on your Model 3 more than any other Tesla model, because it earned an impressive 94% rating in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. Any cars that went wrong were all fixed for free.
And then there’s how far you can go in it. The earliest Standard Range Plus we recommend as a used buy had an official range of 254 miles, while later, post-2020 models upped that to 267 miles. On top of that, the Model 3 benefits from the fast and convenient charging offered by Tesla’s own Supercharger network.
Performance is punchy in all versions, with even this entry-level model covering the 0-60mph sprint in 6.1sec – quicker than the likes of the Kia e-Niro electric SUV and equivalent petrol and diesel versions of the BMW 3 Series. The ride is well controlled yet generally comfortable, too, and the Model 3 is more fun to drive than most rivals.
Minimalism is the order of the day inside, with almost every function controlled through a 15.0in central screen. Not having instruments in front of you can take some getting used to, but the screen’s layout is intuitive and it responds quickly to inputs. True, overall quality isn’t anything special, but it’s better than we’ve seen on any previous Tesla.
There’s plenty of room in that airy interior, too, with space for a couple of six-footers to sit behind people of a similar size up front, and the boot is remarkably large by saloon standards and includes a deep underfloor storage well (plus more space under the bonnet). In fact, it’s the ideal size for taking your family’s holiday luggage to that sunny bolthole that has given you years of pleasure.
Best for tight budgets
Renault Zoe (2013-present)
Price from £8000 Our pick R110 ZE40 Dynamique Nav
The Renault Zoe is proof that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get an electric car, with prices starting from just £8000 and lots of used examples to choose from.
For the best version, however, you’ll want to up your budget to around £15,000, allowing you to drive our recommended post-2017 facelift R110 model. That facelift gave the Zoe new looks inside and out, but it also virtually doubled the original car’s battery capacity from 22kWh to 41kWh (usable), meaning you could go significantly farther between charges. That range is 186 miles officially. Later, post-2020 models upped that to nearly 250 miles.
While there are other tempting options at the same price point as the Zoe, including the current Nissan Leaf and earlier examples of the BMW i3, the Zoe is the most well-rounded option, being more reliable than the former and more practical than the latter.
Best for space versus price
MG ZS EV (2019-present)
Price from £17,000 Our pick 45kWh Exclusive
If you’re looking for an electric car that offers family-friendly practicality on a budget, you might be tempted by a Peugeot e-208 or Volkswagen e-Golf, but neither of those hatchbacks can hold a candle to the MG ZS EV.
For starters, MG’s family SUV is much cheaper to buy used. Its boot is far bigger than those of most similar-priced electric cars, too, while head, leg and shoulder room are fine whether you’re sitting in the front seats or the rears. That space isn’t impacted much if you go for a high-spec model with a panoramic glass roof fitted.
For around£17k, you’ll be getting an early 45kWh model with a 141bhp motor (it was facelifted late last year with more power and range), but it can still go from 0-62mph in 8.5sec. The 163-mile official range isn’t as long as the e-208’s or Renault Zoe’s, but it should still be enough for most journeys, as long as you don’t spend all your time on the motorway.
Best for luxury
Jaguar I-Pace (2018-present)
Price from £40,000
If you’ve got the budget to seek luxury alongside efficiency in your electric car, the world really is your oyster. But while a used Audi E-tron or Mercedes EQC might be on your shortlist, it’s the Jaguar I-Pace that most deserves your money. Not only is it usefully cheaper to buy used than either of its rivals, but it can also go farther between charges, with an official range of 292 miles and around 250 miles in real-world use.
Where the I-Pace really shines, however, is inside. The quality of materials used is top notch, and even the entry-level S is loaded with kit, including a rear-view camera, lane-keeping assistance and a 12.3in infotainment touchscreen.
Luxury isn’t just about how many toys you have, though; it’s also about comfort and refinement. Sure enough, the I-Pace is whisper-quiet even at motorway speeds, and the ride is smooth, especially on the S’s relatively small 18in wheels.