Best electric cars to buy in 2021

Tax free, green and cheap to run. Here are the best electric cars on the market

BuyaCar team
Feb 12, 2021

As the electric car market continues to gradually build momentum as we race towards a ban of petrol and diesel cars, there has never been a better time to make the switch to an electric model. There were around 40 different electric models on sale as we entered 2021, and that number looks set to expand further over the next 12 months.

But it's not just about how many options there are. Where you were once restricted to cars like the BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf that certainly won't have appealed to everyone, you now have the choice of more mainstream options such as the Peugeot e-208, the Mini Electric, and the Vauxhall Corsa-E.

Fortunately, there are already plenty of used versions of all these models available on BuyaCar, so even the high price of electric cars can be swerved to some degree. Options range from small city cars to tall SUVs, with ranges that stretch beyond 250 miles on a single charge.

You do need to take into account the optimistic figures for electric car range.  In real-world driving, these can be around 15% less than stated. For those who need greater range, plug-in hybrids combine clean and cheap electric power with a petrol or diesel engine that kicks in when the batteries run low. We've listed the ten best electric cars currently on sale below.

Best electric cars 2021

1. Kia e-Niro

Best electric car for no fuss

Used deals Limited stock
Official range 282 miles

It might not look particularly special, but that's one reason why the Kia e-Niro has found itself at the forefront of the electric revolution: it's an electric car that you could buy to replace a petrol or diesel model while barely changing your lifestyle.

The Niro isn't cheap at a price of £33,000, after the government's plug-in car grant has been factored in, but it's no more expensive than a well-specified Peugeot 3008 or Land Rover Discovery Sport, and comes complete with heated leather seats, modern dashboard touchscreen and plenty of safety and driver assistance features. Adults won't complain about sitting in the back, the ride is comfortable and the 451-litre boot is more spacious than the Nissan Qashqai's.

Key to it all though is the e-Niro's enormous range. Even taking the official 282 mile range with a pinch of salt, you should easily be able to travel more than 200 miles between charges, so many owners will only need to plug in once a week, an experience that, until recently, has been the preserve of Tesla owners paying three times as much.


2. Jaguar I-Pace

Best electric car for luxury 

Used deals from £42,680
Monthly finance from £759*
Official range
 292 miles

Jaguar’s first attempt at an electric car boasts Porsche-beating acceleration, a vast interior, and an official range of up to 298 miles. New car proices start at £58,995, making the I-Pace competitive in comparison to the Tesla Model X and Audi e-tron. You can already skip the waiting list with a used car.

Flush-fitting door handles, a high-tech digital interior and rapid acceleration make this Jaguar feel futuristic, but it also gets the basics right, with a spacious interior, large boot and four-wheel drive.


3. Hyundai Kona Electric

Best electric car for battery choice

Used deals from £21,495
Monthly finance from £311*
Official range
292 miles (64kW version)

Hyundai generally teams up with its sister company, Kia, to build cars, and has done that with the Kona. Underneath the car's slender headlights are the same batteries and motor that power the e-Niro, and that's a very good thing.

You get the same long range of almost 250 miles between charges and the same brisk performance, and you've also got a similarly competitive price, which starts at around £33,000 from new and before discounts. The Kona falls behind the newer e-Niro because, although there's space for four adults, it has slightly less room in the back and boot.

Unlike the e-Niro, there's also a cheaper version of the car with a smaller 39kWh battery. This has a reduced range of around 150 miles in real-world conditions and costs from just over £27,000 when the government grant is included.


4. Nissan Leaf

Best electric car for families that need over 150 miles of range

Used deals from £15,600
Monthly finance from £230*
Official range
 168 miles (40kWh)

The latest Nissan Leaf picks up where the old one left off, as a mass-market, affordable vehicle - by electric car standards, at least. It has been designed to be battery-powered from the ground up, so makes the most of the space that would normally be used by an oily engine. This means that there's much more room for passengers and luggage than the dimensions would suggest.

The new Leaf brings more miles per charge and less awkward looks. It also uses Nissan’s innovative e-Pedal, which decelerates the car when you lift off the accelerator, recovering energy to boost the battery.

For most users, the car's official range of 168 miles (closer to 130 in the real-world), will mean that they'll rarely need to charge away from home. It might be below the 200 mile-range of many cars being launched in 2019, but means that the car requires fewer expensive batteries, making it reasonably affordable.


5. Tesla Model S

Best electric car for performance, range and seven seats

Used deals from £37,995
Monthly finance from £622*
Official range
  381 miles (Performance), 393 miles (Long Range)

The Tesla Model S is absolute proof that an electric car can have the performance to match a Ferrari. The most powerful Performance model will accelerate from 0-62mph in 3 seconds and there’s an official range of more than 350 miles. That’s considerably more than any other car in this list, but it's also the only model that hasn't yet been tested to a new standard, which generally results in a more realistic - and lower - range.

Even so, you'll need to drive for several hours to exhaust a fully-charged car. You also benefit from Tesla’s high-speed Supercharger network that can recharge the car with around 170 miles of range in half an hour.

The price for this specification isn't cheap: new cars cost from£78,000 to almost £100,000 for the ultimate Model S with all option boxes ticked. It’s a big car that’s spacious enough inside to be able to accommodate a third row or rear-facing seats for children, making this a seven-seater.

6. BMW i3

Best electric car for smooth ride and agile handling

Used deals from £12,290
Monthly finance from £216*
Official range
 195 miles

As with most new electric cars, the BMW i3 is a purpose-built model that;s designed around its heavy battery pack in the floor. This has helped to create a bright, airy interior with a flat floor, good visibility and plenty of space for passengers - although boot space is tight.

You can now buy the i3 with a high-capacity 94Ah battery, providing at least 125 miles of real-world driving on a single charge. A Range Extender model, no longer on sale, adds a petrol generator that recharges the batteries on the move when they are low, providing another 70 miles-or so of driving before you need to stop.

The car can be charged up in around four hours if you’re connected to the right high-speed socket and the new price looks more reasonable with the government grant in place. Used cars continue to fall in price.


7. Renault Zoe

Best electric car for value

Renault Zoe front

Used deals from £5,995
Monthly finance from £118*
Official range
 149 miles

The Zoe is small but spacious inside. It’s a superb city car that’s quiet and smooth over bumps, as well as being nippy to thanks to the instant acceleration that you get from an electric motor. It can manage motorway journeys, but takes a while to reach higher speeds after that initial burst of acceleration.

And it’s cheap too - prices start at just over £9,000 if you take out finance, although these don’t include the battery. You’ll need to hire that from £49 a month. The cost depends on your mileage and works out roughly the same as running a petrol or diesel car.

The cheapest Zoe has a range of around 100 miles, which drops to 70 miles in cold weather. The rest of the range is now available with a bigger battery that's claimed to offer more than 180 miles of realistic range between charges.


8. Audi e-tron

Best electric car for quality

Used deals from £43,100
Monthly finance from £628*
Official range
 249 miles

A triple-screen dashboard and the option of cameras to replace side mirrors might mark the Audi e-tron out as futuristic, but the car's strength is that it's just like other Audis.

It's designed to look like a larger version of the new conventionally-powered Q3 and the interior uses the same familiar controls that are used across the range. More importantly, the sense of solidity is there, with components fitting tightly. It's just as well because the car is so smooth and quiet, you'd notice any rattle or squeak.

The official range of 248 miles is below that of the Jaguar I-Pace, but high enough that public charging will be a rarity for most drivers.


9. Volkswagen e-Golf

Best electric car for the looks and practicality of a conventional car

Used deals from £16,995
Monthly finance from £221*
Official range
 115 miles

The standard VW Golf is designed to be understated and the electric version is no different. In fact, if you don’t spot the small badges on the grille and bootlid or the aerodynamic alloy wheels, you’re unlikely to realise that the engine and fuel tank have been replaced by motors and a battery that can take the car around 100 miles between charges.

Inside, the story is much the same. The solid, straightforward dashboard is still there and there’s still enough legroom in the back for adults to sit comfortably. The boot is a little smaller to accommodate the battery, though. It's quick to accelerate but shudders over bumps more than the standard car.

The Golf’s limited range means that you’ll have to plan long journeys carefully. There is the option of installing a fast charger at your home, which takes only 30 minutes to charge the battery to 80% capacity.


10. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Best electric car for crossover looks

Used deals from £13,070
Monthly finance from £211*
Official range
 174 miles

Offering more miles (just) per charge than a Nissan Leaf, and with used models now becoming more affordable, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a good alternative to the latest Nissan Leaf.

Plenty of standard equipment makes the Ioniq good value, and it's reasonably spacious too, but it doesn't come up to the standard set by the newer Nissan, which has more room in the back, a substantially bigger boot and uses higher-quality interior materials. Add to that the fact the Leaf is more fun to drive with its intuitive e-Pedal and you'll have to be seriously financially motivated to pick the Ioniq.


*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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