Best used electric cars 2021

Buying a used electric car means no exhaust emissions, a lower carbon footprint – and big savings on tax and fuel costs. Here are the best

BuyaCar team
Jul 23, 2021

If you’re thinking about buying an electric car, there are many obvious advantages. Your fuel costs will drop dramatically, electric cars offer decreased running and maintenance costs compared with petrol or diesel cars, and of course, your carbon footprint will be smaller with an electric car. All of which are good things.

However, electric cars are still more expensive to buy, especially when new, than their equivalent petrol or diesel models. Despite the recent introduction of some relatively affordable models such as the MG ZS EV and Vauxhall Corsa-e, and the continuation of the government new car grant, this remains the case.

One way of lowering the cost of an electric car is by opting for a used or nearly new model.

Read on for a list of great-value used electric cars available on BuyaCar right now. We've dug out some seriously competitive prices here that promise to compete with even the best-value petrol and diesel alternatives. Also, if you find yourself wondering about all the jargon that comes with electric cars, our in-depth electric car guide will help you out.

Best used electric cars

1. BMW i3

Best used electric car for innovation and style 

Used deals from £11,985
Monthly finance from £226*

Some electric cars are based on the same basic body and chassis as petrol and diesel models but BMW gave its engineers free rein to create an electric car from scratch. So the BMW i3 is made substantially from strong but light carbon fibre. The batteries are placed low down, and the electric motor is between the rear wheels, helping to keep the car's centre of gravity low and make the i3 surprisingly agile and fun to drive.

The interior is spacious and distinctive, but it’s only got four seats, and there’s no compartment for storing charging cables, so they eat into boot space.

The original i3 features a 60Ah (22kWh) battery and can manage around 80 miles on a single charge. More recent models have a higher-capacity 94Ah (33kWh) battery, providing at least 125 miles per charge. Meanwhile, a 120Ah (42 kWh) battery version was introduced in 2018, pushing the car’s real-world range up to around 160 miles.

Many used i3s were specified from new with a range-extender engine: a petrol motor that recharged the batteries on the move when they were low, almost doubling the car's potential range.

BMW i3 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Leaf

Best used electric car for frugal motoring

Used first-generation deals from £7,495
Monthly finance from £155*

Used second-generation deals from £16,000
Monthly finance from £222*

It may be no oil painting but the original Nissan Leaf could brighten up your life in other ways: namely by saving you money. The best-selling electric car in Britain is widely available on the used car market at some very affordable prices.

It's powered by a 24kWh battery, making for a comfortable driving range of around 75-100 miles. The first-generation Leaf is 10 years old now so the technology inside it is a little dated against newer opposition, but that's not to say it isn't still a very usable electric car.

A new Nissan Leaf, which is more attractive and offers a longer range, hit the road in 2018 with a new 40kWh battery bringing an increased range of up to 151 miles. Prices for those first models are beginning to drop now, and are available from £222 per month.

The older Leaf is cheaper and seats four adults in comfort, five people at a pinch, but lacks style: the interior is a sea of grey and black plastic with few stylistic flourishes. Avoid the basic Visia trim level and pick Acenta, as it includes a useful touchscreen system, a more efficient heater and allows for rapid charging. Watch out for older models badged "Flex"; these are cheaper because batteries aren't included and must be leased.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Renault Zoe

Best used electric car for a compact second car

Used deals from £6,000
Monthly finance from £126*

For less than £100 per month on finance, you could own a five or six-year-old Renault Zoe that’s covered no more than 30,000 miles and still feels fresh enough to pass for a new car.

Buy it as a second car and you might be surprised to find how much you come to depend on it. Many owners report that they soon switch to using their Zoe as their everyday car, because it costs so little to run and is surprisingly practical – seating five, assuming those in the back don’t mind getting snug. Alternatively, two child seats will fit.

At that price, you’ll be getting a Zoe without batteries, which have to be leased. Costs start at £49 per month, based on an annual 4,500 mileage. You’ll pay more if you drive further. The early Zoes have a real-world range of fewer than 100 miles, but if you need more range, a newer version, called the Zoe Z.E. 40 was introduced in 2018. That’s capable of around 155 miles in real-world driving. A 52kWh battery was also introduced as an option in 2019.

RENAULT ZOE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Best used electric car for feeling like a ‘normal’ car

Used deals from £19,995
Monthly finance from £288*

With a realistic range of 130 miles, space for five and a reasonably sized 350-litre boot, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a perfectly capable family car, particularly since prices for three-year-old models have now dropped well below £20,000, and well under £250 per month on finance.

In fact, it would be top of the list for families if it wasn't for the Nissan Leaf, which brings more range, more boot space and extra headroom compared with the Ioniq Electric, which is restrictive for rear passengers because of its low roof.

For now, the Ioniq is available for less than the latest Leaf, and its conservative looks may appeal more than the Nissan too, which will give it the edge for many buyers.

HYUNDAI IONIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Jaguar I-Pace

Best used electric car for luxury

Used deals from £42,250
Monthly finance from £751*

The Jaguar I-Pace is in close contention with the Tesla Model S as the most desirable modern electric car on the market, thanks to its sleek design, dual-screen dashboard and lightning performance. Its range of well over 200 miles (officially 292 miles according to WLTP figures) on a single charge means that it fits the bill for most motorists, who'll find that they rarely need to use public chargers (assuming there's somewhere to plug in at home).

Unfortunately, the car's desirability means that prices remain high on the used market, but if you're desperate for an I-Pace but you don't want to wait for it to be built, a nearly-new, low-mileage example could be an ideal choice.

JAGUAR I-PACE BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen e-Golf

Best used electric car for a great family hatchback

Used deals from £19,995
Monthly finance from £296*

The first attempt at creating an electric Golf didn’t go terribly well. The Golf part of the car was fine, but the electric part was poor. Range was a claimed 118 miles, but considerably less on the road, and the performance was mediocre. Not many drivers bought one.

In 2017, VW introduced a substantially improved version with its own, in-house engineered powertrain. The range climbed to 186 miles, although that's realistically 130 miles in everyday use. Charging times sped up (80% capacity in 45 minutes, using a 45kW rapid charger). And the car sped up, too, finally feeling nippy rather than half-asleep.

A false floor in the boot gives somewhere to store charging cables, and as the rest of the package is a Golf it’s oh-so-nice to live with. However, as a relatively expensive new car that’s still young and in short supply, used examples are pricey. In fact, some drivers might be better off with a GTE, which is a plug-in hybrid, and is a much cheaper alternative starting at £14,500 on BuyaCar.

VW E-GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Tesla Model S

Best used electric car for range

In the context of the other used electric cars in this selection, the Tesla Model S is likely to seem breathtakingly expensive. However, compare it with a similarly-sized and luxurious Audi A7, BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo or Porsche Panamera and it is fairly priced.

Tesla’s electric cars are renowned for their impressive performance and generous driving range. The Californian car company offers free updates over the air for the lifetime of its electric cars.

8. Smart EQ Fortwo

Best used electric car for a compact second car

Used deals from £10,885
Monthly finance from £182*

Not everyone needs, or wants, a family car. This is where the Smart EQ ForTwo comes in. It’s wonderfully different to anything else on the road. The brief for the original Smart was to hold two people and a case of beer.

Those pocket-sized proportions (it’s less than 2.7m long) mean it may be just the thing for those after a cheeky little runaround that's easy to maintain and easy to park. The EQ ForTwo is capable of up to 90 miles on a charge. A wall charger will replenish the battery in around three hours.

It’s at its happiest in town or pottering about the suburbs, where the ride comfort is just about acceptable. Venture onto main roads and the EQ Fortwo does a little pogo dance, shaking up that case of beer in the boot, while the top speed of just 78mph tells you all you need to know about how it’s being pushed to its limits on dual carriageways and motorways.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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