JEREMY Clarkson has been given a well-deserved break this week (well, he is a little short of cars to review right now, for obvious reasons), so The Sunday Times Driving today brings readers its pick the 10 best electric cars on sale.
At this point, it’s impossible to deny that electric cars are the future, with the government banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 at the latest (possibly 2032, subject to consultation). Hybrids are slated for the chop, too.
That might sound a long way off but in reality it’s less than 15 years away, so even the hardest core of petrolheads will have to start getting their heads around the idea of life without the internal combustion engine if they want to keep parking the newest of cars on their driveways.
Many already are, with registrations of pure-electric cars tripling in March compared with the same time last year, despite the lockdown that ground car sales to an effective halt at the end of the month. Electric vehicles (EVs) still only make up 2% of cars on the roads, but it’s only going up.
Which makes Driving’s electric car special — written by editor Nick Rufford along with Richard Porter, script editor for The Grand Tour, and James Mills, a long-time Driving contributor and seasoned motoring journalist — especially welcome.
The trio of experts have created do a comprehensive roundup of the options on the market, taking into account the best EV for different circumstances.
Here on Driving.co.uk we’ve picked out five of the 10 — if you want to see the full list, grab a copy of this weekend’s Sunday Times Magazine or head to the Sunday Times website.
Best for fun: Volkswagen e-Up!
The e-Up! isn’t exactly a newcomer on the EV scene, first humming its way onto the roads back in 2014. However, similar to many EVs of its time, it couldn’t get very far on a single charge and it seemed costly for what it was. It also “attracted sniping from those who were amused by the fact its name sounded like a Yorkshire farmer saying hello”, recalls Drivign.’s writers.
However, the newest version has a bigger battery, which means a longer range, as well as more safety features and creature comforts like climate control and heated seats. Furthermore, its “stout” engineering gives it a “Honey-I-shrunk-the-golf sense of integrity that’s rare in the world of tinny, tiny cars.”
Best for ease of recharging: Tesla Model 3
Owning a Tesla has a number of benefits — it’s good for the environment, it’s quick, and it begrudges you the respect of one of motoring’s biggest and most passionate fan clubs. One of the most practical advantages of Tesla ownership, however, is the access you get to Tesla’s Supercharger network, which allows you to swiftly and conveniently recharge your car at a network to which drivers of other brands of EV don’t have access. In fact, a recent Auto Express survey found that the Supercharger network is the best EV charging infrastructure in the UK.
One of the best things about the Model 3, according to The Sunday Times today, is that “nothing about it shouts electric, so the driving experience is “normal”. As you’d expect from a company whose CEO also owns SpaceX, though, there are many futuristic touches. For example, “to open it you use a smartphone app or hold the credit-card-sized key next to a sensor near the door.”
Best for busy families: Kia Soul EV
“The Kia Soul EV is nothing if not distinctive,” say Driving’s writers, “looking for all the world like an Imperial stormtrooper’s headgear on wheels, especially in white or black paint.” Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you to decide, but a competitive price point and generous range definitely helps its case. It can do a not-to-be-scoffed-at 402 miles in stop-start city conditions, and the First Edition model with all the accoutrements is less than £35,000.
It might not be the status choice, say our writers, but it has practical benefits. “Despite its name, the Soul doesn’t put the emotion back into driving. But it does make for a practical, well-equipped family car that will get you noticed.”
Driving.co.uk drove the car earlier this year. Find Will Dron’s review of the Kia Soul EV here.
Best for the smartphone generation: Honda e
Aside from all of the Honda e’s more pragmatic advantages, there’s no ignoring its cuteness. “It is petite, like a Mini, and can turn on a sixpence, and inside you’ll discover a cabin that appears to have been modelled on a furniture designer’s Instagram feed.”
It also feels like the first car to have actually been designed for the generation for whom electric cars will be the norm. “Screens run the entire length of its dashboard and cameras act as rear-view mirrors. If you ever check yourself out with your phone’s camera, you will feel comfortable using them.”
Is it possible that the Honda e could become the status city car for the electric youth that the Fiat 500 was for the latter part of the combustion engine generation? Mind you, the upcoming pure-electric 500 might have something to say about that.
Best for bargain hunters: MG ZS EV
MG’s compact SUV might not have a particularly cool name, and neither does it come from a brand you’re likely to associate with the future of motoring. In fact, you’re more likely to associate MG with “flat caps, string-back driving gloves, silk scarves and trips taking in tearooms in the British countryside.”
However, this is a new chapter for the British Marque. MG is now owned by a Chinese company called SAIC and the ZS EV is great “if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful electric car”, say the Driving writers. It’s decent to drive, it can go a good distance without having to worry about running out of juice, it has a quick recharging time and you can get one for less than £26,000. What more do you need?
For the full 10 cars listed by The Sunday Times Driving, click here.