Best electric cars 2020
Electric cars are becoming more and more popular with each passing month, with sales rising steadily in Britain despite the government-funded discount falling from £3,500 to £3,000 in April 2020. And as many people are discovering, technology has moved on since the days of the electric milk float: the best electric cars make a compelling case against established petrol and diesel-engined rivals thanks to their zero emissions and much lower running costs.
Lots of electric cars are rather fast, too. Everything from small city cars to large electric SUVs are capable of delivering a strong surge of power, providing immediate (and almost silent) acceleration unlike anything seen in the world of cars before. Which isn't bad considering most electric vehicles cost just a handful of pounds to charge.
To demonstrate just how much choice there is in the electric-car market already, we've put together the following list of the best electric cars available to buy 2020.
Polestar is an offshoot brand from Volvo that produces more exclusive, sportier offerings available exclusively with electrified powertrains. The brand's first pure-electric offering is this, the Polestar 2 – a rakish SUV designed to take on the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model 3 below.
Power comes from a pair of electric motors producing a total of 402bhp, fed by a 78kWh battery that provides a claimed 292-mile range. It's fast, with a 0-62mph time of under five seconds and effortless acceleration from any speed.
We love the car's cool styling and minimalist interior, as well as the way the Polestar 2 drives: it's comfortable yet sporty and seems more agile than a car of this size and weight should. Rear-seat headroom could be better for taller occupants, but otherwise this is a practical family car that manages to be deeply desirable.
The Honda e is one of the best small cars on the market, regardless of powertrain. It looks like a concept car that’s made it to the road, and that’s largely because it is – much of its retro-inspired styling and impressive technology was first seen on the Urban EV show car in 2017.
The Honda e is powered by a single electric motor with either 134 or 152bhp depending on which variant you pick; neither is super-quick, but there’s still loads of fun to be had. The steering is light and natural, while the balance between body control and ride comfort is very well judged. It’s not a sports car, but the e is fun to drive nonetheless.
Elsewhere, an incredible array of infotainment screens dominate the car’s super-stylish interior, which looks like a 1970s vision of the future, complete with brown wood veneer and tweed-like fabric. The Honda leads the way in this department. It can only manage 127 to 136 miles on a charge, but it’s capable of 100kW charging, albeit in short bursts: an 80% charge should take about 30 minutes on a rapid charger.
Much like the Honda e above, the MINI Electric is intended as a stylish, retro-inspired car that’s less concerned with overall range and more with accessible pricing and city-friendly dimensions.
Power comes from a single electric motor with 181bhp, fed by a 32.6kWh battery that’s good for a claimed range of up to 145 miles. There’s plenty of performance on offer and it’s easily deployed thanks to a clever traction-control system that eliminates the wheelspin found in some electric cars. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds and top speed is 93mph.
Much of the appeal of the MINI Electric is in the way it drives. Its responses are sharp and its suspension feels firm but well damped; by contrast, it’s refined at a 70mph cruise and, while its range doesn’t allow for really big stints, the MINI would be comfortable on a longer journey. However, despite the batteries not intruding on the car’s interior, the MINI is still a smallish car for rear-seat passengers and their luggage.
With 282 miles of range and a starting price of £32,995, it's no wonder the Kia e-Niro was crowned the DrivingElectric Car of the Year in 2019. This compact SUV is comfortable, practical and great value for money, making it one of the best all-round packages on the electric car market today.
Featuring a 64kWh battery and a 201bhp electric motor, the e-Niro is well equipped inside with an eight-inch touchscreen, sat nav, heated leather seats, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera and many other things besides. Its 451-litre boot is an ideal size for families, and Kia's seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is included, too.
A full charge at home could cost you just £8, and possibly less if you plug it in overnight when electricity tariffs are lower. And for those occasions when you need to top up in a hurry, the e-Niro is ready for the arrival of 100kW public chargers, which will refill the battery in under an hour.
Jaguar has always been first for many technical innovations. As far back as the introduction of disc brakes in the 1950s, Jaguar lead the pack, and it’s doing the same in the modern era with the I-Pace. This all-electric SUV is incredibly impressive. It combines a 90kWh battery with an all-wheel-drive electric motor setup that delivers 395bhp. Even though this zero-emissions EV is quite heavy, it’s still incredibly rapid, doing 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds.
A claimed range of 292 miles on a full charge is also impressive, and we found in that 230 miles is easily achievable in the real world. On top of this, there are no compromises when it comes to packaging. It’s roomy inside and the 638-litre boot gives plenty of luggage space. Jaguar has also future-proofed the I-Pace with 100kW charging capability.
And in spite of the switch to electric propulsion, the I-Pace is still laced with Jaguar’s DNA, so it steers brilliantly, rides smoothly and offers agile handling balanced with refinement.
The Porsche Taycan is a big deal in the performance-car market, as many people believe electric cars can't be as exciting as the petrol-powered supercars we're used to seeing. However, the Taycan shows that anything is possible, and that electric cars can still have the character to thrill driving enthusiasts.
Three versions of the Taycan are available: the entry-level 4S, the mid-range Turbo and the top-of-the-range Turbo S. Prices start from just over £83,000, topping out at more than £138,000 for the ultra-fast Turbo S model. This promises a whopping 750bhp, with a 0-62mph figure of 2.8 seconds – quick enough to compete with most supercars. Top speed is 161mph; more than enough for those eyeing up the fast lane on Germany's autobahns.
The cheapest 4S actually achieves the longest range in the line-up, with cars boasting the 93kWh battery option (there's a 73kWh unit, too) capable of up to 288 miles on a charge. For most, this will be the sweet spot, with 0-62mph in four seconds more than fast enough for everyday driving and grand touring.
The Renault ZOE is one of the best electric cars on sale right now, thanks to a facelift in 2019 that gave it more range, more power and faster charging than the previous version. Today, the ZOE contains a 52kWh battery that returns up to 245 miles of range, while there's a choice of electric motors generating 107 or 134bhp; acceleration times equate to 11.4 and 9.6 seconds respectively.
This might not sound very quick, but both will complete 0-30mph in less than four seconds, making them nippy in town and city environments. As standard, the ZOE will accept a maximum charge of up to 22kW via a Type 2 charging socket, but buyers have the option of adding a CCS port for fast-charging of up to 50kW.
Plug into a home wallbox delivering 7kW of power, and the ZOE will be fully charged from flat in under nine hours, while a 50kW fast-charger – increasingly common at forecourts and motorway service stations – will see a 20-80% in less than an hour. At just over £25,000, this car is also incredible value for money compared to rivals like the Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa-e and Honda e.
Hyundai Kona Electric
Electric cars and SUVs are two growing trends, so for manufacturers like Hyundai it makes sense to combine the two in one appealing car: in this case, the Kona Electric. It’s a small SUV that uses a 64kWh battery to return a range of around 280 miles on a full charge.
That's more than enough capacity to avoid range anxiety in most situations, but don’t expect to see these figures if you exploit the Kona’s full performance: 201bhp motor helps the Hyundai accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. That results in a terrific turn of speed around town, with an instant hit of power when you push the accelerator. Elsewhere, the interior is roomy, the infotainment is strong, there's a 332-litre boot, and the ride is fluid and forgiving.
Kia Soul EV
If you're not struck by the Kia e-Niro above, then you might be interested in its funkier sibling: the Kia Soul EV. It uses the same 64kWh battery as the e-Niro, so the range of around 280 miles is similar, although it's a little bit slower to 62mph from a standing start. The boot is also a little bit smaller, with the Soul EV offering 315 litres to the e-Niro's 451. However, the boxy shape means there's more headroom for rear-seat passengers, while rear legroom is good, too.
In addition to the generous amount of standard kit – which includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, advanced 3D navigation and a new 'UVO Connect' app – the Soul EV is great to drive. It feels slick and natural around town, while the four driving modes allow you to alter the throttle response in order to maximise range.
Tesla Model 3
This list wouldn't be complete without Tesla's most recent creation: the Model 3. It's available in three guises: Standard Range Plus, Long Range and Performance. The Standard Range Plus is the entry-level, returning 254 miles of range from a single charge as well as a 0-60mph figure of 5.3 seconds.
Then there's the Long Range: it has a range of 348 miles and it's slightly faster off the line than the Standard Range Plus. The Model 3 Performance is the most impressive of the lot: its range is slightly down on that achieved by the Long Range, but what it loses in range it makes up for in acceleration. 0-62mph is achieved in a mind-boggling 3.2 seconds (remember this is an executive vehicle, not a supercar), with a top speed of 162mph.