What are they like to live with?

* We test four * Driving impressions * Financial realities...

What are they like to live with?

The biggest problem with most electric cars is their limited range. A typical petrol car will do at least 300 miles on a tank of fuel. Then, all you do is visit one of the countrys 9700 filling stations for a quick fill-up and youre on your way again.

When an electric car runs low after as little as 30 miles, you have to find somewhere to plug it in and wait several hours for it to charge up. That means theyre really only suitable for driving in cities, although the Doblo and Smart last a little longer before grinding to a halt.

If youve got off-street parking at home, you can plug these cars into a domestic socket. If not, you can use one of the free charging points around central London or pay an annual fee to top up in a special council car park (visit www.electricparking.com for locations).

So, theyre a bit more hassle to live with than a petrol or diesel, then, but how do these cars compare? Read on to find out.