The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

New Registration Special: Hybrids and electrics

guide to the best hybrids and electrics with 64 registration plate for September 2014


Tesla Model S Performance £63,700*

Tesla Model S

Is the Model S the answer to the problems facing electric motoring? It comes pretty close. The Model S is the most futuristic car on the market. Its battery gives it a claimed range of more than 300 miles and, when allied to the company’s supercharging stations, can be topped up to 50% of full charge in 20 minutes. Buyers can pick one of three battery options: a 60kWh pack (with a claimed 240-mile range and a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds), an 85kWh pack (at 312 miles and 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds) and an 85kWh Performance pack that cuts the 0-60mph time to 4.2 seconds. The cabin makes it feel as if you are driving a tablet computer, with a 17in touchscreen and a sleek digital dash . There is one caveat: don’t expect to get the full range if you drive aggressively.

Engine: Electric motor with lithium-ion battery pack
Power/Torque: 416 bhp | 443 lb ft
Performance: 0-60mph: 4.2sec | 130mph
Fuel/CO2: Not applicable
Road tax band: A (free)

 

BMW i3 £25,680*

bmwi3

The BMW i3 is the electric car for which the world has been waiting. Ultra-light, thanks to its space-age aluminium chassis and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic bodywork, it takes the notion that battery-powered vehicles are slow, cumbersome lumps and burns it before your eyes. The i3 may be intended as an urban dweller and a second car, but it’s far too good for that. When you have a vehicle that’s this enjoyable to drive, with a wonderfully fresh cabin and such unexpected levels of ride and refinement, you’ll want to be at the wheel all the time.

But you can’t. After about 80 miles — though BMW claims it is 100 — the battery will run dry and you’ll need to park for three hours on a fast charger (or up to eight on a standard household supply) to power it up again. The range-extender version, which uses a petrol engine as a generator, adds 80-90 miles in range for an extra £3,150 . On balance, it’s probably worth it.

Engine: Electric motor with lithium-ion battery
Power/Torque: 168bhp | 184 lb ft
Performance: 0-62mph: 7.2sec | 93mph
Fuel/CO2: Not applicable
Road tax band: A (free)

 

Vauxhall Ampera Positiv £28,750*

Vauxhall Ampera

Vauxhall’s first electrically powered car is also the most desirable vehicle it makes. Unlike many of its more humdrum stablemates, it’s a great-looking car with a cabin of rare quality at this price.

It is pleasantly swift, too, although the ride quality is disappointing on all but the smoothest of roads. More importantly, the Ampera has a decent-sized fuel tank, which means its range after the electric battery has run dry is about 350 miles. Crucially, this is the difference between a vehicle making sense as an only car and one that can only be an additional luxury.

The all-electric i3 is a more flamboyant machine but until you can drive from London to the Scottish Borders non-stop in one, the Ampera will continue to make more sense.

Engine: Electric motor with lithium-ion battery, plus 1.4-litre range-extender unit
Power/Torque: 149bhp | 273 lb ft
Performance: 0-62mph: 8.7sec | 100mph
Fuel/CO2: 235.4mpg | 27g/km
Road tax band:  A (free)

 


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