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
May 24, 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 from £31,499
Monthly finance from £561*
Official range 180 miles (39kWh), 282 miles (64kWh)

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. The e-Niro comes in two flavours, though, and it's worth noting that the 'mid range' model promises an optimistic 180 miles between charges.

KIA NIRO BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Jaguar I-Pace

Best electric car for luxury 

Used deals from £47,591
Monthly finance from £846*
Official range
 292 miles (90kWh)

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 prices start at over £65,000, 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.

JAGUAR I-PACE BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Hyundai Kona Electric

Best electric car for battery choice

Used deals from £27,995
Monthly finance from £354*
Official range
 189 miles (39kWh), 300 miles (64kWh 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 a similar long range of almost 300 miles between charges and the same brisk performance, and you've also got a similarly competitive price, which starts at around £30,000 from new. 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.

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 under £28,000 when the government grant is included.

HYUNDAI KONA ELECTRIC BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Nissan Leaf

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

Used deals from £18,295
Monthly finance from £250*
Official range
 168 miles (40kWh), 239 miles (e+ 62kWh)

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. A smaller range means fewer batteries, and a more affordable price. The more expensive e+ model promises almost 240 miles, but starts at over £30,000.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Tesla Model S

Best electric car for performance, range and seven seats

Used deals from £33,058
Monthly finance from £713*
Official range
  412 miles (Long Range), 390 miles (Plaid), 520 miles (Plaid+)

The Tesla Model S is absolute proof that an electric car can have the performance to match a Ferrari. The most powerful Plaid+ model will accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.99 seconds and there’s an official range of more than 520 miles. That’s considerably more than any other car in this list.

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 £84,000 to almost £155,000 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. Newer models lost this option, but you can still find used examples with seven seats fitted.

6. BMW i3

Best electric car for smooth ride and agile handling

Used deals from £15,500
Monthly finance from £287*
Official range
 191 miles (38kWh)

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 120Ah battery, providing at least 150 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, but remember, older models had a much shorter range and smaller batteries.

BMW i3 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Renault Zoe

Best electric car for value

Used deals from £7,990
Monthly finance from £163*
Official range
 295 miles (52kWh)

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 too 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.

Older versions of the Zoe promised 100 miles of range, though this could almost be halved at high speeds and in cold weather. Fortunately, the latest models are more on par with rivals. They're also a lot more expensive.

RENAULT ZOE BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen ID.3

Best electric car for interior space

Used deals from £29,999
Monthly finance from £529*
Official range
 217 miles (45kWh), 263 miles (58kWh), 336 miles (77kWh)

Volkswagen thinks the ID.3 will be the third big step for the company, the first two being the original Beetle and the Golf. Currently, the ID.3 comes with four battery and power options, the 150hp 45kWh Pure Performance, 145hp 58kWh Pro, 204hp 58kWh Pro Performance and 204hp 77kWh Pro S. This is meant to represent the choice usually offered by conventional engines, where electric versions have usually come with just one option.

The exterior dimensions are similar to a Golf, but Volkswagen says it should feel like a Polo in town. That's because of its short overhangs and good turning circle. Thanks to a wheelbase that's longer than a Passat's - that's the distance between the front and rear wheels - there's plenty of space in the back for two or even three adults. The boot is almost identical in size to the latest Golf.

MORE ABOUT THE VOLKSWAGEN ID.3

9. Peugeot e-208

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

Used deals from £21,986
Monthly finance from £318*
Official range
 217 miles (50kWh)

This version of the 208 went on sale in 2019 with a handful of petrol and diesel engines, and for the first time ever, an electric option. Rather than Peugeot building this car to have distinctive and futuristic looks, the e-208 looks almost identical to the petrol- and diesel-powered 208.

The e-208 isn't just restricted to the top level trim, either - you can have it in every trim that you can have a regular 208 in. All models get alloy wheels, air conditioning, a seven-inch touchscreen and rear parking sensors.

The e-208 shares many of its underpinnings with the Vauxhall Corsa-e, which also makes for a good choice for those wanting the looks of a conventional car. Both models promise over 200 miles between charges, which should be enough for most people's weekly commutes.

VOLKSWAGEN E-GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Best electric car for low cost quality

Used deals from £21,680
Monthly finance from £321*
Official range
 193 miles (38.3kWh)

Offering more miles (just) per charge than a BMW i3, and with used models now becoming more affordable, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a good alternative to the likes of 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.

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC 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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