What are the best value electric cars that you can buy right now?
As the world becomes more eco-conscious, many of us are thinking about making the switch to electric cars.
Electric vehicles (EVs) reduce air pollution by having zero CO2 emissions, and many are eligible for government grant schemes that can help with the costs.
But with so many electric cars to choose from, making a decision can be tough.
We’re here to help – find out which EV might be right for you in 2021.
The Smart EQ ForTwo is small and compact, so it’s ideal for the city.
It’s priced from £21,700 to £24,995, making this two-seater one of the cheapest EV’s to buy in the UK. The ForTwo is a nifty runabout with an incredibly tight turning circle, perfect for city driving.
Delivering a smooth driving experience, it has 82 brake horsepower (bhp) - plenty for a 1,100kg car. But its smaller battery size means you’ll only get a range of 84 miles, or 75 miles if you opt for bigger wheels and other options. On the other hand, the ForTwo’s size makes it quick and cheap to recharge.
So, while this car is great for urban living, its short range and need for frequent charging may not be suitable if you need to travel longer distances.
The ForFour is designed for four people, but still has the compact and nimble qualities of a Smart car. And with prices between £22,295 to £23,455, there’s not much price difference between this and the ForTwo.
On a full charge, Smart claims the ForFour has a range of 81 miles, although real range tests have shown distances of just under 60 miles. The ForFour makes the most of stop-start city traffic though, using its regenerative braking technology to recharge the car’s battery on the move.
With the ForFour, parking in tight city streets is easy but its size sacrifices storage space - the boot is small and the back seats tightly packed in, so not very comfortable for adults. But for short journeys, this little EV can be great fun for zipping around town.
Another of the smaller electric cars, with a retail price of £22,800. The Mii Electric is a versatile car that’s good for both city and motorway driving. Its size is ideal for weaving through narrow streets and its light steering is great for manoeuvring into tight spots.
The battery is stored under the floor to maximise passenger and boot space, giving the Mii a spacious and comfortable interior.
The Mii’s official range on a full charge is 161 miles, making it better for longer journeys, although acceleration is more sluggish at higher motorway speeds.
The Mii offers three driving modes, helping you maximise power and optimise battery efficiency and range when you need to. And while its interior is a bit dated compared to some of its EV rivals, the Mii still manages to deliver a smooth, easy and pleasant ride.
The Renault Zoe has been around for some time and is one of the most popular EVs of this size. With a price tag of £30,095 to £34,595, it just sneaks in for the plug-in car grant too.
The Zoe’s five doors make it easy to get into the back seats and it also has one of the biggest boots of similar-sized EVs. However, its high and non-adjustable driving position and reduced headroom for back seats may make it less attractive to taller adults.
Renault claims the Zoe has a range of 233 miles in summer and 150 miles in winter, so it’s great for city driving and longer journeys.
And it stands apart for in-car technology too, coming with a 7.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard and an additional 9.3 inch sat-nav screen if you choose the Iconic trim.
The Peugeot e-208 is often viewed as one of the best of the small EVs and has a retail price of £29,725 to £34,275. Although similar to the Renault Zoe, there are some differences. For example, the e-208 can be rapid-charged as standard and the charge controlled with an app on your phone.
For a small car, the e-208 still manages to have plenty of headspace and legroom. Like the Zoe, it comes with a 7.0 inch infotainment system. But it also has a 3D i-Cockpit dial screen and clever features like a smartphone charging pad that’s stored out of the driver’s sight.
The e-208’s battery and electric motor make it faster than the Renault Zoe, although it has a lower range of up to 217 miles. But the e-208 is the only model in our affordable top five that can accept 100kW DC charging, which means it can charge from 10% to 80% in a speedy 30 minutes.
Cheapest might not mean best for you – you should balance what’s out there with your budget and needs.
If you’re happy to stick to short trips and don’t need much space, Smart EQs are a good option and can take the stress out of crowded city driving.
For greater flexibility, EV’s with longer ranges allow you to drive reliably on the motorway. But as with all cars, taking a test drive is essential to check the driving position and performance work for you, and that there’s enough storage and passenger space for your needs.
Audi’s e-tron GT is a powerful pure-electric car. With a price tag from £79,900 to £106,000, this luxurious EV grand tourer is also classed as a performance car. Its two electric motors can reach up to 523bhp, that’s the same as 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds.
The e-tron GT has an official range of 283 miles and is capable of rapid-charging from 10-80% in 21 minutes. With its high spec, wide digital screen and infotainment technology, this EV’s focus is on long-distance comfort. Although insurance costs are likely to be high, the running costs for a premium car like this, compared to petrol and diesel alternatives, are very cheap.
This ‘S’ version of Audi’s electric SUV uses a third electric motor for performance acceleration, taking it from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds. But this extra motor comes with a price tag, and you’ll find the e-tron Sportback S costing up to £105,000.
However, what this also buys you is a luxurious interior, slick infotainment screens, matrix LED headlights, two-zone climate control and a host of other features that come as standard. Despite its size and three motors, this EV delivers a surprisingly smooth, quiet and comfortable drive.
Coming out late in 2021, the BMW iX is another electric SUV and the first luxury car to feature built-in 5G technology. It will cost between £70,000 up to £95,000, depending on the specification you choose.
As well as an impressive range of 370 miles, the five-seat iX also offers level-three autonomy, which means it can steer, accelerate and brake for itself in certain circumstances. And using 5G and cloud technology, your car gets instant feedback to learn your habits and provide a tailored driving experience.
Another premium EV, the I-Pace is a quick, attractive SUV designed to deliver seamless performance. At prices of up to £77,000, the entry-level I-Pace comes with plenty of luxuries including keyless entry and ambient interior lighting, and its app lets you control the temperature of the car remotely.
With an official range of 290 miles and the ability to achieve 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, it performs well compared to its SUV rivals. The I-Pace does have longer charge speeds than some of the alternatives, but this EV’s driving experience and plush interior make for a very comfortable ride.
An elegant version of the SUV, the Mercedes EQC is priced up to £75,000. One of the quietest SUVs to drive, the EQC achieves decent acceleration, reaching 62mph in 5.1 seconds. But it has a range of 208 miles which is less than some of the alternatives on the market.
Like many of its high-end rivals, the EQC comes with a built-in infotainment system, but it also has a touchpad on the central console and stands out for its ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice-control feature which allows you to speak English commands to the car.
Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, with a growing number of models on offer and EV sales accelerating fast.
If you’re considering buying an electric car, it’s best to compare models, prices and insurance quotes from a number of providers to make sure you find the best option to suit your budget and needs.