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65-plate Special: The best new electric and hybrid cars

Plug-in to the future


September 2015: the best new electric and hybrid cars for sale

Find a new electric or hybrid car for sale on driving.co.uk  or bag a used deal instead: driving.co.uk/electric | driving.co.uk/hybrid


Tesla Model S, £51,180-£80,280*

The best electric cars and hybrids: Tesla Model S

The Tesla isn’t just a great electric car, it is a great car. From its knuckle-whitening acceleration to its futuristic cabin and surprising practicality with up to seven seats, the Tesla moves the game on. On the outside, the car looks distinctive rather than jaw-dropping; it’s on the inside that it really impresses. The hi-tech dash has a 17in touchscreen display you can use to control everything from the (optional) sunroof to the suspension setup.

The uncluttered cabin is roomy, while under the bonnet there’s ample carrying space, thanks to the lack of an engine. Open the hatch and you’re greeted by a massive boot that can accommodate an optional pair of pop-up rear-facing occasional seats should you need to carry children. The battery has a claimed range of up to 330 miles in the mid-spec 85D version (or 275 miles in the entry-level 70D) and can be fully recharged in 75 minutes from Tesla’s superchargers.

There’s a choice of motor outputs, with even the entry-level car capable of 0-60mph in just over five seconds.

*After allowing for the £5,000 government plug-in car grant

  • OUR PICK Tesla Model S 85D (£63,580)
  • POWER 417bhp
  • PERFORMANCE 0-60mph: 4.2sec
  • TOP SPEED 155mph
  • RANGE | CO2 330 miles | 0g/km

 


VW Golf GTE, £28,755-£30,520*

The best electric cars and hybrids: VW Golf GTE

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most accomplished family hatchbacks you can buy. Now VW offers a plug-in hybrid version, the GTE, alongside a pure-electric model badged the e-Golf. While the latter is good, the GTE is better because it could theoretically be all things to all people: the efficiency and nippy performance of an electric car with the range of a petrol engine.

The GTE offers most of the practicality of the regular hatch, although the boot is 108 litres smaller (at 272 litres compared with 380 litres in the standard model) to accommodate the battery and fuel tank. The rest of the cabin space isn’t affected and you would be hard pressed to tell you were not in a standard Golf. The driver can choose between all-electric motoring or a combination of that and conventional power. The car wakes up in battery-powered E-mode and, according to VW, can travel up to 31 miles before needing its 1.4-litre petrol engine. When flat, the battery can be recharged by the petrol unit, or from the mains in less than four hours.

*After allowing for the £5,000 government plug-in car grant

  • OUR PICK Volkswagen Golf GTE (£28,755)
  • POWER 201bhp @ 5000rpm
  • ACCELERATION 0-62mph: 7.6sec
  • TOP SPEED 138mph
  • RANGE | CO2 580 miles | 39g/km

 


 

BMW i3, £25,980-£29,130*

The best electric cars and hybrids: BMW i3

BMW doesn’t do things in a half-hearted manner, which is why it set up its own factory to manufacture the carbon fibre necessary to build the i3. Without this move, the car would have been prohibitively expensive; that’s the level of attention to detail you get with this supermini.

There’s only one trim level but there are two variations on the theme: a pure-electric model or a range extender that features a petrol engine to keep the batteries charged up. The latter model carries a £3,150 premium; we’d say it’s worth it.

Despite being about 13ft long, the i3 can seat four and offers decent boot space. The good news continues once you’re moving, thanks to a combination of low-mounted batteries that reduce the centre of gravity, plus rear-wheel drive, which allows the front wheels to focus solely on steering the car rather than driving it. The result is something that may not be as much fun as a BWM M3 but is far more engaging than you might expect.

*After allowing for the £5,000 government plug-in car grant

  • OUR PICK BMW i3 range extender (£29,130)
  • POWER 168bhp @ 4800rpm
  • PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 7.9sec |Top speed:
  • TOP SPEED 93mph
  • RANGE | CO2 160-186 miles | 13g/km

 

65-plate Special contents

Find a new electric or hybrid car for sale on driving.co.uk or bag a used deal instead: driving.co.uk/electric | driving.co.uk/hybrid