For the eco-conscious consumer, avoiding car ownership is to be applauded. But for many, it’s simply not practical.
Thankfully, the electric vehicle (EV) market is growing fast, which means it’s increasingly possible to minimise your carbon footprint while still having the convenience and practicality of a car.
While not completely footprint-free, EVs have a fraction of the environmental impact of traditional combustion-engined cars during daily use, with zero tailpipe emissions while driving. There’s also the added bonus of electricity being much cheaper than petrol or diesel.
Right now, electric cars won’t suit everyone. If you don’t have somewhere at home or work to charge an EV, you’ll need to rely on more expensive public chargers. And if you drive long distances, the lengthy recharging stops may not be practical.
If that’s the case, check out plug-in hybrid cars, which let you drive short distances (30 or so miles) on electric-only power, but also feature a traditional engine that can take over if you run low on juice.
But as car manufacturers improve battery range, the network of charging stations grows and recharging times drop, pure EVs are becoming more feasible for more people. Here’s our pick of the cars to check out.
What’s The Best Electric Car? 11 Reviewed And Tested
Best small electric car – Honda E
The Honda E is the freshest small EV on the market, with cutesy retro styling outside and a minimalist but tech-filled interior.
It’s not cheap for what it is, although you have to remember that EVs are still in their infancy and will be more expensive to buy than a petrol or diesel equivalent, even after the government grant that all zero-emission vehicles currently get.
But with low running costs and a 137-mile range from a full charge, the E will suit a lot of needs, and it’s fun to drive too, with zippy acceleration.
Best electric car for long journeys – Tesla Model S Long Range
Tesla has revolutionised the EV market, having challenged established car makers with its electric-only range.
The Model S was the American manufacturer’s first mass-produced car back in 2012, but it remains at the cutting edge of technology thanks to continuous updates since it was first introduced.
It’s a large hatchback with plenty of space inside, and the Long Range model should do up to 379 miles on a single charge.
Owners can also benefit from a dedicated Tesla Supercharger network around the country, which is a big attraction to potential customers worried about where to top up.
As car manufacturers improve battery range, the network of charging stations grows and recharging times drop, pure EVs are becoming more feasible for more people
Best electric car for families – Hyundai Kona Electric/Kia e-Niro
Electric SUVs are often favoured by families because their higher ride height makes it easier to load kids in and out.
The Hyundai Kona Electric is well worth a look, because of its impressive five-year warranty, nippy performance and a range of 279 miles per charge.
But Kia’s e-Niro is also a solid choice, as it uses the same electric tech as the Hyundai and has an even better seven-year warranty. Kia reckons it’ll get a couple of extra miles to a charge too. It’s bigger and therefore more spacious than the Hyundai, but also a bit more
Best electric sports car – Jaguar I-Pace
One of the benefits of EVs is the instant acceleration they offer, with no need to rev a traditional engine hard to get the best performance.
So electric tech suits the enthusiast very well, and if you’re after big grins there are a couple of excellent choices.
Jaguar is a brand that’s built its reputation on sporty, fun-to-drive cars and its I-Pace electric SUV very much follows that ethos. It looks the part, accelerates like a rocket and will do 200 miles to a charge, while still having plenty of space for kids in the back.
Best luxury electric car – Mercedes-Benz EQC
The luxury EV market is relatively sparse when it comes to EVs.
Audi’s E-Tron SUV proved popular as one of the first to market, but Mercedes-Benz has struck back with its EQC, a mid-sized SUV that mixes stylish looks with a tech-filled, very comfortable interior. Its boot isn’t the biggest and neither is its 259-mile range.
But the EQC is packed with features including a huge wide information screen and touch-sensitive buttons, as well as an Alexa-style in-car digital assistant that’s one of the best you can get.
Best affordable electric car – MG ZS
While EVs can be expensive, some are more affordable than others. For the best bang for your green buck, take a look at the MG ZS.
It’s a small SUV that’s no great shakes when it comes to build quality or driving experience, but it’s a lot of car for the money.
It’s easy to drive, has a 163-mile range and scores big on practicality.
Other cars that won’t break the bank include Nissan’s Leaf or Renault’s Zoe, both of which are objectively better cars and have larger ranges, but nowhere near the roominess of the MG.
Best electric car for carrying stuff – Tesla Model X
Tesla’s Model X is fancy-looking, with brisk performance and eye-catching ‘Falcon’s Wing’ rear doors that open upwards.
But it’s also about the biggest electric car you can buy, with space for up to seven and a roomy boot. All Model Xs have all-wheel drive, which means they’re good for towing too.
You can get a range of up to 314 miles per charge and there’s also the added bonus of Tesla’s comprehensive Supercharger network. If you want to carry lots of people and/or lots of stuff, it’s hard to find a better zero-emission car.
Best electric car for city dwellers – Renault Twizy
Want an EV that doesn’t just blend into the background? It’s hard to beat Renault’s Twizy. It’s a microcar that, admittedly, will only suit a small niche of inner-city drivers, with space for two but virtually no luggage space.
Oh, and no windows. The battery range is also small by modern standards, but it’s cheap to buy and will zip around narrow streets with ease.
If you want something more practical, look at Kia’s Soul EV, which has a thoroughly modern look, a 280-mile range and all the space and comfort of a traditional hatchback.
Best all-round electric car – Tesla Model 3
For an EV that does pretty much everything, Tesla’s Model 3 is the one to go for.
A mid-sized saloon, it’s got a smooth design, lots of space inside and tonnes of cutting-edge technology. It’s also great fun to drive, especially if you opt for the Performance version. Go for the Long Range version and you’ll get up to 348 miles of range per charge.
And on top of that, it’s got plenty of self-driving features that will take control of steering, braking and acceleration on the motorway, to help make long journeys easier. There’s very little that it doesn’t do very well.
Best electric car to watch out for – Volkswagen ID.3
The EV market has lots of new products in the pipeline, but we’re particularly interested in Volkswagen’s ID.3.
This will be the first VW designed from the ground up as an EV, rather than converted from an existing petrol or diesel model, and with a major brand behind it we can expect to see quite a few on the road before the end of 2020.
The ID.3 is a five-door family hatchback with a claimed range of up to 341 miles, which should give it wide appeal. Could this be the next electric game-changer?
What do you think? Are these the future of driving? Have you got an electric car? Let us know in the comments below!