Is it time to switch?: Our guide to the best electric cars

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The best electric cars to buy

Do you know your hybrids from your EVs? Find out here and see our pick of the 12 best electric and hybid cars on the market

Electric cars have gone from niche interest to government policy at lightning speed. Plug in as we take a tour of the driving future...

What’s the difference between electric and electrified?

Electric cars are electrified vehicles, but electrified vehicles are not necessarily electric cars – they include a range of hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hydrogen-powered vehicles, which combine electricity with other forms of power.

Glossary

Electric vehicles

Uses one or more electric motors for propulsion over a reasonable distance. Recharged externally.

EV Pure-Electric Vehicles eg Nissan Leaf  Run only on electric motors. Powered by a battery recharged by a plug. PHEV Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, eg Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.  Can run for a reasonable distance on electric power, but have an internal combustion engine for support. Most are powered by the electric motor, engine, or both. Can be recharged via a plug and refuelled conventionally from a petrol station.

REEV/EREV Range Extended Electric Vehicle – Extended Range Electric Vehicle, eg BMW i3 REX.   An EV with an on-board generator. Can be recharged from the mains or via the on-board generator, though the engine never powers the wheels directly.

FCEV Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, eg Toyota Mirai. Commonly hydrogen powered – uses an electric motor for drive. A small battery is charged using a fuel cell stack, which converts hydrogen stored in an on-board tank into electricity, emitting only water from the tailpipe. FCEVs take just minutes to refuel from a filling station.

Electrified Vehicles

A model with an electric motor that can power the vehicle by itself for short periods, or that boosts the performance of the engine.

Hybrid, eg Toyota Prius Conventional hybrids use a combination of electric motor and internal combustion engine for power – often able to run on motor, engine, or both. Unable to be charged externally, a small battery stores charge generated by the engine or under braking.

Mild hybrid, eg Suzuki Baleno Uses an integrated starter motor and small battery to improve the performance of an engine under load. The motor is also used to restart the engine and pull away, along with stop/start technology.


Our pick of the best electric cars on the market

TOP 4 EVs

The best Renault electric cars

Renault Zoe

250-mile range

From £18,995*

All-electric supermini with class-leading range

The best golf electric cars

VW e-Golf

 186-mile range

From £27,690

As good as a ‘normal’ Golf, but greener

BMW electric cars

BMW i3

195-mile range

From £28,570

Futuristic and fun to drive supermini

The best Tesla electric cars

Tesla Model S

393-mile range

From £87,880

Makes long-distance EV-ing possible


TOP 4 PHEVs

The best Mitsubushi electric cars

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

33-mile electric range

From £32,304

The UK’s best-selling plug-in car

The best Toyota Prius electric cars

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

39-mile electric range

From £29,195

Exceptionally efficient, and better in EV-mode than hybrid

The best Mercedes electric cars

Mercedes Benz C 350e

19-mile electric range

From £36,935

Executive travel with electric benefits

The best bmw electric cars

BMW i3 REX

181-mile electric range

From £30,980

The EV for drivers with range-anxiety


TOP 4 HYBRIDS

 The best prius electric cars

Toyota Prius

From £24,115

The hybrid, and now rather good

The best Hyundai electric cars

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

From £20,585

Challenges hard for the Prius’ crown

The best Toyota electric cars

Toyota C-HR

From £23,685

A striking hybrid for younger buyers

The best kia electric cars

Kia Niro

From £21,635

Crossover looks with hybrid efficiency


Where to refuel

Zap-Map.com is an EV charge-point mapping provider, lists all publicly available points in the UK and Ireland.

LV= comprehensive car insurance will cover your electric-powered car. It has a 5-Star Defaqto Rating – and Boundless members can get an exclusive discount on its public prices. 


Chris Lilly has written about motoring since 2006, and now profiles the electric car sector for NextGreenCar.com – the UK’s No 1 green car website, offering news, advice and reviews.

Illustration: Andy Potts

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