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Best Of

First published: 23rd December 2015

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Best Of

Top 5 best Electric Cars

Electric cars are getting better all the time, making them a more realistic proposition for more people. These are currently our experts' favourite five

First published: 23rd December 2015
More and more people are coming to realise that an electric a car is a genuine proposition for 21st-centrury motoring. With increasing amounts of us living in the city or the suburbs, and never needing to undertake long journeys by car, the relaxing drive and low running costs of an electric car are making them all the more attractive.

Of course, most are not without their limitations – most have a real-world range of no more than 100 miles; they’re comparatively dear to buy; and, you need easy access to charging facilities – but as long as you can live with those restrictions (and more people than will admit it, can…), an electric car is a very sensible choice.

The question is what to buy, but with more and more makers selling electric cars, you can find pretty much whatever you want – from city cars to sports cars, and all points in between. And, if you are tempted, let our experts guide you through the best of the current crop.
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf - the British-built one
More than any other, the Leaf is the car that convinced a sceptical public that an electric car was something to consider; and, even now, it’s a compelling proposition. Around town – which is the natural habitat of an electric car – the Leaf is smooth, comfortable and near-silent. Even in the heaviest traffic, the way it drives is supremely relaxing. Above all, apart from the range, there are no sacrifices to make: the Leaf is a decent five-seater, while the boot will take plenty of luggage. As with any electric car, everyday motoring can cost just pennies, and to cap it all, it even costs less to service than a comparable Pulsar.

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Renault Zoe
Renault Zoe
Renault Zoe - the (relatively) cheap one
One of the main attractions of electric cars is that they cost so little to run, but the trouble with so many of them is that they cost so much to buy. Not so the Zoe, which is yours for little more than the price of a decently-specced Clio. The beauty of it is that, despite the fact that you’re not spending a million dollars, the Zoe is still a very smart-looking little thing. The blue accents on the outside are complemented by a hi-tech interior; and, as the car was designed from the ground up as an electric car, the batteries don’t limit the car’s practicality too much. It’s good to drive, too, and the icing on the cake is a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

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Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S - the long-range one
As recently as 10 years ago, if you’d told someone an electric car would have even half the attributes of the Tesla Model S, you’d have been laughed at and carted off to the funny farm. After all, it’s not often that you hear of a car that can hit 60mph from rest in less than six seconds and has a (theoretical) zero-emission range of more than 300 miles. True, the cabin quality isn’t quite as good as it could be, but the technology on show – with the 17-inch touch-screen tablet display taking the headlines – soon helps you forget that. The downside is that there’s a pretty hefty price tag attached to all this ability and tech, but with the Model S, you can’t help feeling that this is something of a game-changer; and that was never going to come cheap.

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BMW i3
BMW i3
BMW i3 - the aspirational one
No offence to any of the early electric car pioneers in the modern age, but it took the arrival of the i3 to make electric cars genuinely aspirational. But, with the i3, its list of attributes goes way beyond that famous badge on the bonnet. There’s its sense of style – somehow managing to look like nothing else, but still obviously being a BMW, at the same time – but then there’s also the way it drives. Yes, that sporty BMW gene is alive and well, even in this electric car; and, the i3 is a genuinely quick little car, as well as being amazingly manoeuvrable. Admittedly, all this doesn’t come cheap, but with the i3, there’s no denying the feeling that you get a premium product for your money.

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Volkswagen e-Golf
Volkswagen e-Golf
Volkswagen e-Golf - the understated one
The e-Golf is an electric car for those drivers who are shrinking violets rather than shout-it-loud early adopters. To the naked eye, it looks like, well, a Golf; and only the most dedicated Golf-ophiles will be able to spot the details that mark this out as a unique model in the Golf range – the blue highlights and closed grille, for example. As with the way it looks, the attraction of the e-Golf is that it has pretty much all the same attributes as a regular Golf: the refined and comfortable drive; the classy cabin; and the decent practicality. In other words, this is a Golf with an environmental conscience; and, at a time when attention has focussed on VW emissions for all the wrong reasons, it’s nice to see one whose emissions are beyond reproach.

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