What Car? Personal Shopper: best electric car for less than £26,000
Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give you our recommended choice, plus the best new and used alternatives, and tell you how much we can save you...
There are plenty of electric cars to choose from these days, but your budget means that some of the more premium new car options (the Tesla Model S, for example, or BMW's i3) are out of reach. However, there are still some excellent choices, and the ones we've selected below will suit your needs.
Our recommended choice: Nissan Leaf
Electric cars really don't come much better than the Nissan Leaf. In its original form, it became the world's best-selling electric car, and in second-generation guise it's our Electric Car of the Year for 2018.
The new Leaf is both bigger inside and better to drive than its predecessor, and you can fit more into its boot than you can in either a Volkswagen e-Golf or a Renault Zoe. Its electric motor delivers punchy performance, too, and can pull you to 60mph from a standing start in around eight seconds; again, that's quicker than both of its key rivals.
There's also a clever piece of technology called the e-Pedal. Most electric cars feature regenerative braking, which harnesses energy normally lost through braking and feeds it back into the battery, but the e-Pedal makes this effect so pronounced that you can drive the Leaf using only one pedal most of the time.
When it comes to how far you can go between charges, the old NEDC test suggests you can travel for up to 235 miles, which is more than either the Zoe or the e-Golf. However, it's important to remember that those tests are wholly unrealistic. The Leaf's range, based on the new WLTP test, is 168 miles, while we achieved 108 miles in real-world conditions – although this test was conducted in winter.
Our favourite version of the Leaf is the N-Connecta model, which gets you adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and automatic lights and wipers. This version of the Leaf would normally cost you £31,390, placing it well out of reach. However, there are two things to consider here: first, that because you're buying new, you can take advantage of the Government's full plug-in car grant of £4500, and second, that, as always, What Car? New Car Buying can lower that price even further. In fact, we can currently get you that same leaf for a more palatable £25,950.
Also consider: Hyundai Ioniq Electric
We usually recommend the Ioniq in hybrid form, but as a fully electric car it promises up to 174 miles of range (according to official tests), as well as extremely low running costs. It helps that the Ioniq has a high-quality interior, too.
Also consider: Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav Q90 40kWh
The Zoe is a great little electric car and can cover slightly more ground than the Leaf between charges. It's comfortable and easy to drive, plus it has a reasonably large boot. It makes especially good sense if you lease the battery.