28.12.2020Best electric cars 2021
Sales of electric cars have shot up, with new models arriving all the time and buyers increasingly aware of the benefits EVs can bring.
Low running costs are possible thanks to cheap charging tariffs, zero or reduced tax rates, and minimal maintenance required. EVs appeal to the heart as well as the wallet, with many being fun to drive, fast, and ideally suited to heavy traffic. Most will cover significant distances on a charge, with average driving ranges continuing to climb quickly.
Only a few years ago buyers had a handful of EVs to pick from - that’s certainly no longer the case, and improvements have come to driving range, charging times, purchase price, and practicality.
Below, Next Green Car has picked the ten best pure-electric cars on sale in the UK, and it’s a list that is regularly evolving - so keep checking back for updates.
The ID.3 is pitched by Volkswagen as the start of its third chapter in the manufacturer’s history - as key to VW’s success as the Beetle and Golf before it. That’s some weight to place on the wheel arches, but the ID.3 delivers, and that’s before the full range has rolled-out. The 1st Edition has impressed with its reliable range calculations, huge interior space considering the footprint - it’s the size of a VW Golf but with passenger space of the larger VW Passat - and easy-to-drive nature from the excellent all-rounder.
Now available with a selection of different trims and batteries, initial observations have been based on the launch 58 kWh model. However, there is also a 77 kWh battery pack on offer, extending the driving range from up to 260 miles to 340 miles on a charge. Charging can be carried out at up to 125 kW DC on CCS points, allowing for 200 miles of range to be added in half an hour.
Tesla Model 3
Sales of the Tesla Model 3 are storming upwards, and with good reason. It brings much of the Tesla tech, range, and design to more customers thanks to a lower price than the Model S. Accessible to those looking at executive saloons, the Tesla Model 3 offers a full-electric choice in the market, and is available in Standard Range +, Long Range, and Performance specifications.
This means that a range of almost 350 miles is possible on a charge, or the Performance version can cover the 0-62mph sprint in just 3.2 seconds. Fitted with a CCS inlet, the Model 3 can either take advantage of the Tesla’s Supercharging network or any other CCS ultra-rapid charger for low recharging times.
Read NGC's review of the Tesla Model 3, or click below to find out more.
The Kia e-Niro combines mass-market pricing with a long driving range in a spacious family-sized crossover shape. As such, it’s one of the best value EVs around, and certainly one of the best for families.
Capable of driving more than 280 miles on a charge, the e-Niro proves a useful family workhorse that makes light work of covering long distances. Ultra-rapid charging at up to 100 kW reduces charging times for the 64 kWh battery, which powers a 150 kW electric motor that’s more than up to the task of shifting the Kia along.
Read NGC's review of the Kia e-Niro here, or click below to find out more.
A former World, European, and UK Car of the Year winner, the I-Pace has a series of gongs to back up its place on this list. The I-Pace is quite simply one of the best cars available to buy right now, combining practicality, style, space, range, and charging with Jaguar’s famed driving dynamics which blend comfort and dynamic in equal measure.
A 90 kWh battery allows for a near 300 mile range, whilst twin electric motors for all-wheel drive allow for a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds. Charging the premium crossover can be carried out at up to 100 kW via the CCS inlet, for recharging times as low as around 45 minutes.
Read NGC's review of the Jaguar I-Pace here, or click below to find out more.
Volvo’s electric performance brand has entered the pure-EV market with the Polestar 2 and created an instant winner. The stylish executive fastback combines an excellent driving range and ultra-rapid charging at a price that sits between the long-range mass-market offerings and those from premium manufacturers.
As such, it’s tough to see past the Polestar 2 as one of the best cars on the road. With a driving range of almost 300 miles on a charge, a 78 kWh battery, and 300 kW from twin electric motors for a sub-5 second 0-62mph time, Polestar will have a tough task building enough for demand.
For around a decade, if you wanted a family-sized electric hatchback, almost the default choice was the Nissan Leaf. Now however, Citroen has muscled in on the action with its e-C4. Unsurprisingly for a car that focuses on comfort and refinement as much as the C4 does, Citroen’s hatch is best with an electric motor, proving more refined and more responsive.
Extremely comfortable, spacious inside, and with a cleverly thought out interior - including a tablet-stand for the front passenger - Citroen’s practical hatch has a driving range of more than 200 miles on a charge, and ultra-rapid charging at up to 100 kW.
Read NGC's review of the Citroen e-C4 here, or click below to find out more.
The PSA Group - which includes Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall, and DS Automobiles - has exploded onto the electric vehicle scene recently, and Peugeot’s e-208 is just about pick of the bunch. Using the same powertrain across almost a dozen different models makes mass-production simple, and a platform designed for electrification has seen the likes of Peugeot and Vauxhall pitch their electric superminis alongside conventional petrol and diesel variants - and people are moving to EV.
The e-208 blends a good driving range of more than 200 miles with style, a great cabin, decent practicality, and charging times kept on the low side thanks to 100 kW charging possible through its CCS inlet. The 50 kWh battery and 100 kW electric motor aren’t the largest or most powerful components on the market, but do a good job all-round - and that’s what most buyers need.
Read NGC's review of the Peugeot e-208 here, or click below to find out more.
For a long time, the Tesla Model S was the electric performance saloon of choice - well a choice of one - but Porsche has come along and taken the crown. Combining the Stuttgart firm’s famous handling and performance focus with a highly capable electric powertrain, the Taycan can cover more almost 290 miles in its longest range version, with three trims and two battery packs available for customer options.
Porsche’s USP currently is that the Taycan is the fastest charging EV on the market, meaning that it can take up to 270 kW from ultra-rapid EC charge points capable of delivering that sort of power. Charging the larger 93.4 kWh battery at these speeds sees more than 200 miles of range delivered in around 15-20 minutes.
Tesla Model S
The long-time champion of EVs, there are no longer-range electric cars than the Tesla Model S. A range of up to 379 miles is possible from the flagship Tesla, making a mockery of just about any driver claiming they ‘need more range’ before considering an electric car.
Regular improvements to power, efficiency, and handling settings continue to improve Tesla’s offering, and the executive saloon-cum-hatchback remains a popular choice for executive car buyers. Add to the mix access to the company’s Supercharger network and its ultra-rapid charging abilities, and the popularity of the Tesla Model S shows no sign of dwindling.
Read NGC's review of the Tesla Model S here, or click below to find out more.
If you want a fun to drive car, there are few better than the Mini - and that’s only made more so with the launch of the Mini Electric. Combining the ‘go-kart’ like driving experience of the conventional hatchback with instant response from an electric motor means the EV version of the Mini hits a real sweet spot in the range.
Driving range is respectable rather than huge, with 145 miles available from a charge, but the emphasis is on the driving experience and short runs than long-distance trips. Charging via the CCS inlet is possible at up to 50 kW DC, so a top-up for the 32.6 kWh battery only takes around half an hour - the shorter charging time a big benefit of a shorter range.
Read NGC's review of the Mini Electric here, or click below to find out more.
Top electric vehicles 2021
Following on from a busy 2020 for new electric cars, 2021 looks set to be busier still. The number of models on the above list that have been introduced or upgraded is extensive, and some have even seen improvements made within the year of launch.
All this means that the strength in depth of the EV market is excellent, and getting better all the time. Keep checking back on this list to see how it evolves over the next 12 months - we're confident a few new names will be added.
For those who want to see which EVs are available to buy, use NGC's Electric Car Search below for a complete list. It's worth taking a look at our buying guide too which explains in greater detail the positives and negatives of EV ownership and what to look out for, to make sure a plug-in car is the best choice for you.