Electric vehicles have been with us for many years now, and they’re being purchased in even greater numbers than ever. In 2021, motors with an electric powertrain outsold those with a diesel engine. In the year-end registrations, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, it revealed total EV registrations at 190,727 units – up from 108,205 in 2020. That’s 75% of growth.
There are many reasons for this, with government legislation and far fewer obstacles (including price, range, infrastructure) are certainly among the most prominent, and the price of fuel and carbon emissions cannot be overlooked.
Picking your electric car
With new cars unable to have internal combustion engineers from 2030 and steep CO2 goals, car manufacturers are racing to deliver more EVs – meaning more choice for the consumer. In this guide, we highlight our picks for Britain’s best EVs and reveal why you’d better plug-in sooner rather than later. Remember, the UK government will subsidise sub-£32,000 EVs by £1500 with its Plug In Car Grant, lowering the premium price that battery EVs carry.
What to look out for
Like any fossil-fuel powered vehicle, battery electric electric vehicles (BEVs) are available in all shapes and sizes, and which one is best for you will depend on many factors – which includes your daily mileage, the sort of driving you do, and your access to charging points. There’s no point having an EV if it can’t accommodate your usage, or if the infrastructure is not there to support it.
Want to learn which is the best pure EV to bring into your life? We’ve handily put them into our top 11 in this guide below. Note that this guide takes body type out of the equation, it simply lists our favourite electric cars.
11. Fiat 500 Electric (From £23,835)
Don’t assume that Fiat just rammed a load of batteries up the rear end of the aging 500, their 500 Electric is a brand-spanking new car from the ground up. It’s marginally bigger than the combustion-engined 500 that continues on in Hybrid guise, though the rear seats remain cramped and the boot quite small. Still, that’s the reality of a car with compact dimensions. Two battery sizes are on offer; 115 miles of WLTP range in the smaller-celled Action; 199 in all of the other versions. Crucially, it’s much better to drive than the 500 Hybrid with solid handling and punchy performance.
10. BMW iX (From £69,905)
Whatever your thoughts are of that nose, or that rear overhang, you’re unlikely to mistake the BMW iX for any other vehicle. That works out well for Munich, due to the fact that BMW has put some exceptional engineering work into its new electric powered SUV.
It’s jam-packed with tech and performance, from the Integrated Brake system that enables the car to slow down through the motors and/or friction – to the 0-62mph time of the XDrivce50 version and its examined 305 mile variety.
What tops it all is that BMW’s iX is incredibly intriguing. It’s an unexpectedly dramatic step in its interior layout and outside design for BMW (even considering its recent radical standards), yet it still has lots of the brand’s DNA sewn into it.
9. Mercedes-Benz EQS (From £99,995)
One might guess from the name, the Mercedes-Benz EQS is the electrical equal of the S-Class. Unlike some of the other EQ badged motors (i.e. EQA, B, C and V) that share a platform with their combustion equivalent, the EQS has a bespoke electric platform to package a huge battery for an almost 500 mile range and to maximise interior space.
Range and performance impress, as does the supremely comfortable ride. This large hatchback has lots of room for passengers too and smartly doubles up as a useful load lugger, too. Just be wary of all the mod-cons, digital displays, and luxury leather seats that make this an opulent tech-fest of an interior.
8. Skoda Enyaq (From £34,850)
The Skoda Enyaq‘s sub-£35,000 starting price appears a decent amount for the iV 60 version, and bodes well for the imminent lower-powered models. It’s undoubtedly a comfortable ride, well designed, and does a first-rate job of attracting as many drivers as possible. When compared to the Kia e-Niro or the Volkswagen ID.4, it’s friendlier and more luxurious than the former, and looks better inside and out than the latter – which is excellent news for the Skoda Enyaq iV, and concerning for Volkswagen.
7. Polestar 2 (From £39,900)
The Polestar 2 is a cracking addition to the purchasing list for mid-sized EV buyers. Hailing from Sweden’s Volvo, Polestar is quite a new start-up that incorporates throughout the Scandi elegant design values and excellence from its sister brand. All this is wrapped up in a more progressive, modern vibe. This vehicle ushers in Google’s first Android OS, so there are few buttons (sound familiar, Tesla?) and it’s operated entirely from a touchscreen or with the aid of the Hey Google voice assistant.
The front-wheel drive models get an option of two battery sizes with the powerful twin-motor coming with the higher-ability pack only. It’s great to drive with the optional Performance pack, too, appears slick and is extremely well built.
6. Renault Megane E-Tech Electric (From £31,000)
We’ve fortunately driven a pre-production version of the electric Megane, and we think the VW ID.3 should be worried. It’s available with either a 186-mile range with 129bhp or a more useful 292-mile range with 215bhp. It’s certainly gained plenty of SUV attitude in this front-wheel drive hatchback’s transformation. It’s a joy to drive and has loads of room inside, so if the price is as competitive as promised, it’s well worth shortlisting.
5. Tesla Model 3 (From £40,490)
The Tesla Model 3 is understandably the UK’s most popular electric car and it’s clear to see why. It’s the least expensive Tesla available and, even in entry-level form, it’s unlikely any new owner will be disappointed. Even the base model packs a claimed 305-mile range and the jaw-dropping ability to sprint from 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds.
It also comes with an Autopilot drive assistance system, which adds to the comfort of long trips and underlines the space-age feel. The Long Range dual-motor version with four-wheel drive and increased range is available. This beast can cover a claimed 374 miles and delivers a sports car-rivalling 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds. Even more impressively, the top of the range Performance drops that time to 3.1 seconds, with range dropping to 340 miles.
4. BMW i4 (From £51,905)
If you thought the BMW i3, i8 or the iX give a different approach to electric power – the BMW i4 goes one step further. While it doesn’t outwardly look as innovative as previous cars produced by the BMWi division, it’s easily one of the best electric cars you can buy in the U.K. today.
There’s two i4s to choose from so far: an eDrive40 with rear-wheel drive, 335bhp and a claimed range of 367 miles – and a M40 with 537bhp twin-motor all-wheel drive machine, which also happens to be the first ever all-electric M-car. You’ll pay £12k more expensive on list price for the M badge, obviously.
Underneath you’ll find the same Gen5 BMW electric drive tech, though here it’s not wrapped in a part carbon construction like the iX. Nevertheless, you won’t care when behind the wheel; with both models of the i4, pressing the accelerator and the i4 reacts with the kind of instant thrust that makes you feel like you’re in a computer game.
Regardless of which one you choose, there are plenty of core BMW traits in here: outstanding ride and handling balance, alert steering, a clean, well-designed and user-friendly interior, and plenty of power being just some of them.
3. Kia EV6 (From £40,945)
Whether you want a single-motor two-wheel drive or twin-motor four-wheel drive, Kia‘s flagship EV6 is available in both. All regular models are capable of 300 miles plus according to WLTP testing, while those happy to sacrifice some range for performance might be interested in the hot 577bhp EV6 GT. Even lesser models handle well, with good performance and a comfortable ride, too. Its size is similar to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 on which it’s based, meaning loads of space for passengers to enjoy front and rear. There’s a roomy boot, too, making it a practical choice for families.
2. Hyundai Ioniq 5 (From £37,420)
Hyundai has stepped things up a notch with the Ioniq 5, producing an extremely well-rounded electric car that’s oozing retro-inspired yet futuristic design touches. We’d give the entry-level 58kWh battery a miss due to its 238-mile range and go for the 72.6kWh pack with twin-motor four-wheel drive. This one has a range of 285 miles and the 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds is significantly faster than either single motor model.
With these specs it’s fun to drive once you get used to a bit of body roll, something that’s acceptable given the comfortable ride.
1. Porsche Taycan (From £72,850)
The Porsche Taycan is an astounding technical achievement. It does the things we all enjoy about driving – accelerating, braking, going around corners with willing zeal, and contains a huge well of capability mostly untapped by normal driving. Porsche delivers cheaper, rear-wheel drive models to sit alongside the toppy Turbo, Turbo S and 4S models. Today, Taycan prices start at £72,850.
If you want to use an EV for longer journeys, make sure motorways and your local trunk roads have the infrastructure to support charging en route or consider an alternative, like a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). These mix battery tech and petrol/diesel power to give you a get-out-of-jail-free card for when pure electric range just isn’t enough.
The truth is that most electric car owners will rarely need to charge up in public; if you have off-street parking and the resources to charge at home, the latest EVs will manage most of your day-to-day driving needs simply by charging your battery pack domestically overnight.
Nio – an EV brand in China – is pioneering battery-swap stations, where a robot will replace your car’s depleted battery for a fully charged one in just five minutes. This sounds like a great solution to the electric car charging dilemma, but will Nio bring this to the UK, only time will tell.
Another advantage of pure electric cars is the money you’ll save every single year due to their exemption from road tax – for now, at least. However with energy prices going up, and the UK government losing out on tax revenue as there are less petrol and diesel cars on the road, owning an electric car will not be as cheap as you think forever.
If you own an electric car tell us what you think about it in the comments section below.