From Ford to Ferrari, car makers are going electric. Ginny, Nicki and Tom choose their favourites.
It’s probably no surprise to hear that we're all rather fond of electric cars. I guess the clue is in our name.
So when it came to choosing our best electric cars of 2020 we found it a bit tricky. It wasn’t that long ago that you could count the electric cars you had to choose from on one hand, but that’s changing fast and you can now buy everything from a hyper-car to a supermini powered by a battery.
But after much deliberation, a lot of tea and several packs of Jaffa Cakes we finally made our choice. And here, in no particular order, are the Electrifying Best Electric Cars of 2020.
The first Mini was developed out of the UK’s need for a more fuel-efficient car. The Suez Crisis had sent fuel prices soaring leaving people wondering if the large, gas-guzzling vehicles of the day made much sense. Which may sound familiar! The crisis may be different, but the aim is the same.
Enter the new MINI Electric, which broadens the appeal of a car that already works for lots of different people. MINI has kept things simple with a choice of three levels and various options to choose from within each package, but even the least expensive comes with good levels of equipment.
There’s a sensible £24,500 asking price (after grants), or just £299 monthly rental with a £4,500 down payment - that means it’s in line with a mid-range petrol VW Golf or MINI Cooper S.
You get a smallish battery which is good for a modest 140 miles of driving range, but MINI did their research and discovered owners drive on average just 26 miles a day. So for the majority of us a smaller battery which is less expensive to buy and recharges quickly will work perfectly. All in all this is a fun, well built electric run-around at a sensible price. The MINI Electric made me happy when I drove it and I'm a sucker for a car that can do that.
Read our full review of the Mini Electric and watch Ginny's road test here.
The Taycan is Porsche’s first pure electric car, and it’s good. Very, very good. There are three different types, the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, and if the idea of a turbo fitted to an electric car doesn’t sound right to you then you’ll be right. Because none of them have anything resembling an actual Turbo, it’s just a model name that indicates their level of performance.
They’re all four wheel drive and have performance figures that will make you smile. Or grimace, we’re not sure which. They’re also not cheap - the 4S starts at £83k, the Turbo at £116k and the Turbo S at nearer £140k.
But the Taycan is a full electric sports car, one that feels like a Porsche and is a joy to drive. At the moment we’ve only driven the 4S but it has plenty of power and acceleration that will startle you. But what really impressed us was the steering and the brakes; it can carve through a set of bends not just fast, but with real feedback for the driver too.
If there’s a ‘driver’s’ EV out there at the moment, then the Taycan is it. It’s also built to Porsche standards, and can accept even the fastest of fast-charging (120kW+), although there aren’t many of those in the UK at the moment. So, if you’re in the market for an electric car with all the DNA of the finest sports cars there are, then this is for you. Read our full review of the Porsche Taycan here.
Kia Soul EV
The original Soul EV was the first all-electric car I drove and it won me over with its functional but cool boxy looks. This is the second version and just like the first it’s a capable, easy to drive and practical car you’ll enjoy living with.
It’s quirky design divides opinion, but there’s a reason boxes are so useful - they’re very practical! The Soul EV can deal with five people and luggage with casual ease, and has a great driving range of around 280 miles, so it works on longer journeys as well in town.
The Soul can automatically choose one of its various driving modes to be the most efficient by sensing how you are driving and the traffic conditions. When you finally do get low on charge, it will accept rapid charging which means you can top-up to 80% at a public point in around half an hour. It’s not too pricey considering the range either - it costs £33,795 after the UK Government grant and gets a reassuring 7-year/100,000 mile warranty. Read our full review and watch Ginny's video road test of the Kia Soul EV here.
Bear with us on this one, we know a two million pound hypercar isn’t what most of you are in the market for. But it’s such an exciting car we had to include it. So, it's a pure electric megacar produced by the legendary Italian design house Pininfarina, named in honour of its founder Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina. And it looks completely drop dead gorgeous. In fact it’s already picked up a GQ Car Award for it’s supermodel-esque beauty.
But under that rear deck isn’t an V12 petrol engine but a 120kWh battery. And a big battery means big power. The kind of power you can’t get out of a combustion engine engine. Nearly 1,900bhp of EV power in fact. Do you want to know some silly facts? It’ll get to 62mph in less than two seconds, 0-186mph in under 12s and is capable of a top speed of 217mph. Which is ridiculously fast. That’s nearly 2,300lb/ft of torque at work. For context folks, a Ferrari 458 has around 400lb ft of torque, so the Battista has nearly five times the punch. It’s amazing it doesn’t just rip its own tyres off.
Oh, and did we mention that former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld is it’s development driver? He told me recently that, during one of it’s simulator sessions, it was so fast that he had to re-calibrate his senses. Time to start saving folks.
I don’t know about you, but at Electrifying HQ we love a little Peugeot, they’ve made some great small cars over the years. Yes, we're thinking of you 205 GTi. They look good, are easy and fun to drive - and cheap to run. And the latest Peugeot small car is cheaper to run than most. You see the new 208 comes with a choice of three types of power, either petrol, diesel or electric. And the cool part is that the fastest version is the one powered by electricity. The electric hot hatch is officially now 'a thing'.
Whizzing about in it too quickly will hurt the range, but the e208 has got a reasonably big 50kWh battery, so you will get a chance to play if you don’t have too far to go.
The e208 has three personalities too. In ‘Sport” mode you get the full 136bhp but less range. Then there’s ‘Normal’, which has 100bhp and has an emphasis on comfort for everyday driving. And if you want to save the range there’s ‘Eco’ which cuts power and extends it to about 280 miles. On average day to day driving you should get around 210 miles of range and if you can charge off-peak it costs just £3.50 to add 200 miles worth of power. This is a great little family runaround that will keep everyone entertained.
It wouldn’t be a list of the best electric cars on sale without a Tesla. They represent the kind of ubiquity in EV language that made ‘Hoover’ a household name. The Model 3 is currently the most ‘affordable’ Tesla. Starting at £37,340 it’s designed to be the kind of car that could wean even the most die-hard petrolheads away from their cars.
It has two great selling points: a long driving range of between 250 and 350 miles and the brilliant Tesla Supercharging Network, which is fast, frequent and reliable.
When it comes to safety the Model 3 achieved one of the highest Safety Assist scores we’ve seen from the Euro NCAP testing body. That’s thanks to tech such as cameras and radar that are constantly reading the road and feeding it back to the main computer. They work with Tesla's Autopilot system which helps keep you in lane, or can even change lanes for you. Human error is a factor in 95% of all road accidents and I guess this tech is a little bit like a guardian angel keeping an extra eye out for you.
Read our full review and see all the juicy details here.
Nissan were one of the first to start selling an electric car and their plans were met with cries of ‘it’ll never catch on’. But they’ve proved the doubters wrong and the Leaf is the best selling electric car in the world. Now onto their second generation car, it's simple to understand, easy to get along with and makes an excellent toe in the water for electric car newbies.
I’ve been running a Leaf for a while now and here’s what I love: it doesn’t make a fuss, it's an easy to drive five-seat hatchback with lots of punch when you need it and a good cruising ability. Plus it has all the money saving benefits of an electric car and a boot big enough for all the paraphernalia I keep in my car.
There’s a standard car with a medium-sized battery that has 168 miles of range, or the more expensive Leaf e+ which manages 239-miles between charges. The Leaf is also capable of vehicle-to-grid charging which means that owners can plug in when electricity is cheap and sell it back to the grid when it’s more expensive. Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
Can winning awards get boring? If so, the Jaguar team must be yawning fit to bust, because the I-Pace has picked up more than a few. Sixty two, in fact. Including a trio of World Car Awards. Who knew that there were even that many?
And there are excellent reasons for that bulging trophy cabinet. Forget the fact that this is an electric car, because the I-Pace is simply a very good car. It looks cool and modern, but also manages to be unmistakably a Jaguar. Despite the fact that it has a pretty large and heavy battery under it’s floor, it drives like a Jaguar too.
Starting at £60,995, it’s at the more expensive end of electric cars and you’re not going to get that close to its claimed 292-mile range in real use. But this is a well built, exciting Jaguar for the new world we live in.
Read the full review and watch Ginny's road test of the Jaguar I-Pace here.
It’s been Europe’s best-selling EV in its time, was one of the first pure electric cars on the market, and it’s brilliantly fit-for-purpose. The Zoe is popular as it’s one of the cheapest cost-price-per-mile-of-range EVs out there. Including the £3,500 government grant it’ll cost £25,670, which means it isn’t the cheapest to buy but it has the biggest battery in the class and makes efficient use of the power.
Renault used to insist owners entered a complicated battery lease arrangement but thankfully that’s been binned and the paperwork is now much less headache-inducing. The car has also evolved constantly with new tech and upgrades to keep up with the newer rivals.
It’s a great car for driving around town, and it’s 245-mile range means that you don’t necessarily need home charging (installed free when you buy a Zoe, by the way). You could probably get away with a once-a-week top-up at a public charging point while you shop, go to the gym or have a coffee. Remember to tick the option box for the rapid charger though, or you’ll be waiting a while.
We couldn’t not include this car, as it still seems a little ahead of its time. The i3 has been on sale since 2013, but remains one of the best urban electric cars out there. It isn’t an inexpensive car, but it has a unique mix of design, practicality and efficiency. There’s a modest battery which gives around 150-ish miles of range so it’s at it’s best around town where it’s rear ‘suicide doors’ will be a conversation starter in the car park.
You can communicate with the car too. The i3 has a little sensor which assesses your driving style and if you’re careful and learn to save energy by being gentle on the accelerator and brakes, it rewards you by growing a virtual tree on the dashboard. It becomes slightly addictive and you’ll find yourself trying really hard to drive carefully and grow those trees!
The inside is wonderful - a mix of interesting textures and technology, shapes and volumes - and to be fair, there’s plenty of equipment. Which there should be, given the price. It’s probably best to think of the i3 as part transport and part fashion accessory - a bit like the latest must-have phone. For a grown-up, easy-to-park urban EV transport, the i3 is still one of our favourites. Read the full review here.