The idea may have once seemed unsustainable in the age of gas-guzzling supercars, but electric cars have left the realms of science fiction and are increasingly becoming a reality. Ready to make the jump? Read on for a guide to ten of the best electric cars available right now.
Tesla Model S P100D
When it comes to electrical appliances you can’t go wrong with anything that bears Nikola Tesla’s name, and the Model S electric sedan is considered a market leader. It’s not a light piece of kit weighing in at over two tonnes, but you wouldn’t know it when handling. This car runs fast and quiet even when you’re pushing the pedal to the floor on the motorway. Comfortably seating five passengers, the Tesla Model S handles considerably better than you might expect from a vehicle of its size, and there are a variety of batteries available depending on the engine equivalent that you prefer.
The pick of the bunch is undoubtedly the P100D, which can get you from zero to sixty in under three seconds if used within the 85kWh Performance model, from which you’ll typically get between 300-350 miles of driving time before you need to recharge. Don’t feel compelled to purchase from the very top, though, as the mid-range batteries will also have you sailing down the motorway and overtaking with ease. The 60kWh entry-level model can reach 60mph in less than six seconds, and that will leave you cruising steadily for around 240 miles.
$57,700 Buy Now
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the electric car market for the first time then you could do far worse than the BMW i3. It comes with all the benefits that you would expect from the German giants, but with the perks of eco-friendly driving.
The i3 typically runs for around 124 miles before needing a recharge, but don’t allow this give you the jitters. If you’re not ready to go all-electric all the time then you can pick up a range extender which allows the car to run an additional 80 miles. Owners can also install the BMW iRemote app on their smartphone, which among many other features includes the ability to track the battery level that remains in the car.
Unlike most BMW models the i3 is tall and narrow, but despite the aesthetic differences the car handles just like a conventional BMW, with the satisfyingly heavy handling reliability associated with such a car. Drivers can get to 60mph within seven or eight seconds, but the i3 is much more of a city-friendly drive than you may expect from this manufacturer. Just about the only downside of the BMW i3 is the price as it is certainly costlier than many competitors, but then, as always, you get what you pay for.
$44,450 Buy Now
The first electric car from reliable Korean giants Hyundai, the Ioniq, isn’t the most exciting model on the market but it makes a fantastic introduction to electric driving from this manufacturer. It is one of the more affordable options on the market and comes in three differing styles. If you’re not ready for 100% electricity then you can look into the option of a hybrid model.
Once you get behind the wheel of the Ioniq you’ll barely remember that you’re in an electric car. It is essentially a traditional family hatchback that runs from a different power source. This could be a perk or a problem depending upon your perspective. Some drivers may be interested in a new experience from their electric drive while others may seek comfort from such familiarity and safety. Top speed is a little over 100mph, the battery will run for around 120 miles, and it takes around seven seconds to get from 0-60 from a standing start.
Comparatively no-frills though it may be, including up to 12 hours to recharge (although for a mere $400 you could invest in an official home charger), there’s plenty to love about the Ioniq – especially for first-time electric car drivers.
$29,500 Buy Now
The Volkswagen Golf is a classic, and the introduction of the e-Golf is a fantastic step forward for the electric car industry. You will be hard pressed to find a difference between the experience of driving this eco-car or its petrol-guzzling counterpart.
First thing’s first, though: this isn’t the car for speed demons. You won’t squeeze much more than 85mph out of the e-Golf at top speed, and it could take as long as 10 seconds to reach 60mph. The handling feels considerably faster, though, and provides a sturdy and reliable drive just like a conventional Golf that will allow you to comfortably cruise for around 120 miles before the battery begins to run dry.
The e-Golf is at the higher end of the electric car price market given its comparatively basic features, but there are plenty of reasons why it is well worth considering. For a comfortable, smooth, and consistent drive, give it a chance. It offers everything you have come to expect from Volkswagen with the environmental smugness of an electric ride. If you value reliability over bells and whistles then look into the e-Golf.
$35,995 Buy Now
It takes a lot to give the Tesla a run for its money, but leave it to an American classic to do just that. The Chevrolet Bolt enjoys a range of over 200 miles from a single charge, with a top speed of 93mph and a 0-60 acceleration of just over six seconds. The biggest discrepancy from the Tesla is the price – the Chevrolet Bolt is significantly more affordable to the man on the street than its luxury competitor.
Perhaps best of all, the Bolt is actually fun to drive. The car has a low center of gravity that ensures it handles well and responsively, and the regenerative braking feature sends welcome juice back into your battery. The Bolt isn’t as sporty to the eye as the Tesla, but the Premier model is equipped with leather interiors. There’s no on-board SatNav, but the console can be paired with Apple or Android apps.
The only note of caution to sound surrounding the Bolt is that a very small number of early models suffered from issues with the battery, so buyer beware if you are purchasing a used model. The problem has long since been rectified, however, making a trip to a Chevrolet showroom worthy of your time.
$37,495 Buy Now
EV enthusiasts will be fully aware of what the Nissan Leaf has to offer as it enjoys a reputation as the first sensible option for an electric car that can be used as a primary family vehicle. It may have been overtaken in the prestige stakes now that the likes of BMW have begun creating their own electric cars, but the Leaf remains a viable option for many. There is good reason that remains the UK’s bestselling electric car.
Pick up a 30kWh engine and you can expect a range of around 120 miles from the Nissan Leaf, which is pretty impressive going – especially when you factor in the fact that the vehicle handles like a dream with extremely light steering make that it ideal for city use. The Leaf is also quiet as a mouse, however, and can cope with the demands of motorway driving with a minimum of fuss. Taking 11 seconds to reach 60mph may not delight anyone that feels the need for speed, but once it gets there the Leaf happily maintains a steady rate.
It won’t win any beauty contests and it certainly isn’t the cheapest EV to purchase outright, but the running costs of the Leaf are among the lowest in the industry. A new model is scheduled for release in 2019, so a used bargain may become available before you know it.
$30,680 Buy Now
Kia Soul EV
Kia joined the EV party a little later than many competitors, and at a glance the Soul seems to be overpriced for what it has to offer. This is essentially a low-fi town car that comes at the cost of a more luxurious model. Dig beneath the surface impression, however, and you will see that this is a nippy little vehicle that makes an ideal second car for a family or a great starter point for a young driver looking for an eco-friendly way of commuting. Additionally, the price point is countered by a seven-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
The range of the Soul EV is around 130 miles with a top speed of 90mph. It comes with a noisy engine, though, so don’t load it up expecting to drive from coast to coast, but if you invest in a high-powered wall charging socket then you can get the battery over 75% full in just 30 minutes. The Soul also handles well thanks to a low center of gravity that defies the weight of the vehicle, and it comes with a number of unique features such as intelligent air conditioning that can be focused on one particular area of the car.
$16,100 Buy Now
If you’re looking for a small car to use for short, controlled bursts around the city, why not go all the way and pick up a Smart ForTwo? This two-seater Smart car (hey, would you look at that, the name makes all kinds of sense) is the most compact EV on the market right now that will squeeze into even the tightest of parking spaces.
Handling is instinctive (albeit not quite as comfortable as some competitors), but the Smart ForTwo really comes into its own when attempting to make it into a cramped parking space or taking narrow urban streets, and you’ll get 75 miles out of the battery before a swift refresh is required.
This recent model has been enhanced from previous versions that left many test drivers cold, although it will still take at least twelve seconds to reach 60pmh and it won’t be a particularly quiet and serene experience when you do. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, however, as this car is not designed with revving along the motorway in mind. The Smart ForTwo is firmly for nipping around a busy town center or commuting.
$14,650 Buy Now
Mercedes Benz B-Class
Just because you are environmentally conscious and have decided to move to electric cars, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice luxury. Mercedes have entered the electric car market, and while the B-Class may not be directly available from the supplier any longer, you can still pick one up used from any number of reputable dealers before the new range is unleashed in 2019.
Boasting horsepower of 177 from a 132kWh electric engine and 28kWh battery, you’ll reach 60mph in just six seconds with this B-Class. Unfortunately, this is countered by a battery capacity of just 87 miles before a lengthy recharge is required. However, the Mercedes B-Class was never built with long-haul motorway driving in mind. Along with the Tesla, this is the luxury model of electric-powered vehicle for cruising through country roads on a Sunday drive. The car runs in absolute silence, and the interior is reminiscent of a traditional Mercedes. It is certainly a step up from a great many rival electric cars in terms of aesthetics.
If you can find a B-Class available for sale, and your daily use is comparatively light, this car is a fine way of enjoying a luxurious commute.
$39,900 Buy Now
Ford Focus Electric
Some consumers will always like to stick with a tried-and-trusted classic, and you can’t get much more traditional than a Ford Focus, arguably the world’s most popular hatchback. This electric equivalent will reach 60mph in a little over ten seconds while offering a range of around 140 miles, and it handles just as well as you would expect from a Focus. There is also an element of exclusivity to the electric Focus, as it is only available from select dealers in limited quantities. While this will be appealing to some drivers, others may wonder if something as common as a Focus is really worth the effort. After all, this EV falls in the same price and performances ranges as competitors such as the Volkswagen e-Golf, the Nissan Leaf, and the Kia Soul.
The only note of caution to sound is to ensure that you invest in the most recent, updated model. Previous versions of the electric Focus suffered from a limited range before the battery caved in. One common issue that remains is the lack of space in the back of the vehicle, which also plagues the fuel-powered equivalent. That said, overall there is little fault to find with an electric Focus with the possible exception of the difficulty in actually finding one for sale.
$16,775 Buy Now
Electric cars are the future – fossil fuels may be running low and the government levies applied to eco-friendly motoring are becoming increasingly appealing. Get behind the wheel of a battery-powered vehicle and see for yourself what all of the fuss is about.