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...

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Steve Huntingford
20 August 2019

Real Range test 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.

The new Mercedes EQC SUV and the entry-level version of the Tesla Model 3 are the latest cars to be put through it. So, how do they compare with rivals?

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


20. Smart Forfour EQ

Smart Fourfour EQ
  • Real Range 57 miles
  • Miles per kWh 2.9
  • Full charge cost £2.42*
  • Cost per mile £0.042

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 the petrol models.

Sadly, the electric ForFour travelled just 57 miles between charges – the smallest Real Range figure of any car we’ve tested.


19. Smart Fortwo EQ Cabrio

Smart Fortwo EQ Cabrio
  • Real Range 59 miles
  • Miles per kWh 2.9
  • Full charge cost £2.43
  • Cost per mile £0.042

The two-seater Fortwo travelled two miles farther than the four-seater Forfour, 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 any conventional Fortwo.

Read our full Smart ForTwo EQ review


18. Volkswagen e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up
  • Real Range 66 miles
  • Miles per kWh 3.5
  • Full charge cost £2.28
  • Cost per mile £0.035

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, despite having a very limited range.

Read our full Volkswagen e-Up review


=16. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Hyundai Ioniq Electric
  • Real Range 181 miles
  • Miles per kWh 3.9
  • Full charge cost £3.57
  • Cost per mile £0.030

The Ioniq is really three cars in one; it’s available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a fully electric car. In the latter form it has a Real Range of just 117 miles, but enough torque to make for brisk acceleration around town.

The Ioniq also benefits from a smart interior, and our recommended Premium trim gets sat-nav and heated front seats as standard. However, the ride is unsettled at low speeds.

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review or see how much we could save you on an Ioniq


=16. Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf front - 19 plate
  • Real Range 117 miles
  • Miles per kWh 3.3
  • Full charge cost £4.27
  • Cost per mile £0.036

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 the same 117 miles as the Ioniq in real-world driving.

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


Next: more Real Range results >

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