What Car? Real Range: which electric car can go farthest in the real world?

With demand for electric models soaring, What Car? has developed a test that shows their Real Range between charges. Here we reveal the best and worst performers...

Real Range - electric cars

One by one, the barriers to electric car ownership are being removed, as charging infrastructure improves, costs come down and the cars themselves become as luxurious as conventional models. But what about range anxiety?

For all the improvements, this nagging concern that the battery will run flat before you get to where you’re going continues to put many people off.

It doesn’t help that official figures are unrealistic. So, What Car? is now putting every electric car through a Real Range test that reflects the way people actually drive and allows direct comparisons.

Below we count down all of the results we have so far, from worst to best.

22. Smart Forfour EQ

Smart Fourfour EQ
  • Real Range - 57 miles
  • Miles per kWh - 2.9
  • Full charge cost - £2.82
  • Cost per mile - £0.049

With an 80bhp electric motor, the Forfour EQ feels much quicker than its 0-62mph time of 12.7sec would suggest. Plus, it handles well because the bulk of its weight is positioned lower down than in petrol rivals.

Sadly, the Forfour EQ travelled just 57 miles between charges – the smallest Real Range figure of any car we’ve tested. And while Smart has since facelifted it, the battery wasn't upgraded.

Read our full Smart Forfour EQ review

21. Smart Fortwo EQ Cabrio

Smart Fortwo EQ Cabrio
  • Real Range - 59 miles
  • Miles per kWh - 2.9
  • Full charge cost - £2.84
  • Cost per mile - £0.048

The two-seater Fortwo travelled two miles farther than the four-seater Forfour, simply because it's lighter, but range anxiety is still likely to be a major problem.

It’s a shame, because the EQ is cheaper to run and more composed than the petrol Fortwos, which have now been discontinued.

Read our full Smart ForTwo EQ review

20. Volkswagen e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up
  • Real Range - 66 miles
  • Miles per kWh - 3.5
  • Full charge cost - £2.66
  • Cost per mile - £0.040

Volkswagen’s smallest electric car is a version of the Up city car, meaning it’s great to drive and smart inside, but not all that roomy.

The e-Up is also a lot more expensive than its petrol-engined sisters. However, since we carried out our test, Volkswagen has increased the battery's capacity from 18.7kWh to 36.8kWh, so the range of these latest cars should be much improved.

Read our full Volkswagen e-Up review or see how much we could save you on an Up

19. Seat Mii Electric

Seat Mii Electric 2019 front cornering
  • Real Range - 111 miles
  • Miles per kWh - 3.2
  • Full charge cost - £4.92
  • Cost per mile - £0.044

How much difference will the Up's bigger battery make? A significant one it seems, because the mechanically identical Mii Electric recorded a Real Range of 111 miles.

Sure, that's only enough to put it one place higher on the list, but it's a lot farther than most commutes, let alone inner-city journeys.

Volkswagen e-Golf front - 19 plate
  • Real Range - 117 miles
  • Miles per kWh - 3.3
  • Full charge cost - £4.98
  • Cost per mile - £0.042

Unlike purpose-built electric car rivals such as the Nissan Leaf, the e-Golf is based on a conventional hatchback. However, this is no bad thing because it means it has most of the good points of the regular Golf, along with greatly reduced running costs.

What lets the e-Golf down is the distance it can go on a full charge, with it limited to 117 miles in real-world driving. The upcoming ID 3 addresses this failing.

Read our full Volkswagen e-Golf review