Electric SUVs

Speed, space and silence: electric SUVs from Audi, Mercedes, Hyundai & Jaguar head a green revolution, with over 200 miles from one charge

Simon Ostler Dominic Tobin
Oct 21, 2019

The british car market has been overwhelmed by the growth of the SUV sector - you may have noticed that these hugely practical high-risers are absolutely everywhere - but the next frontier is already arriving as electric cars have been well and truly established as the future of the motoring industry.

So it seems a no brainer that electric SUVs will become extremely popular over the next decade - although it may seem hard to believe. It was only a few years ago that drivers of tall, aggressive-looking SUVs (sport utility vehicles) were branded climate criminals. Now the continued popularity of these rugged machines means that they are leading the charge towards emissions-free motoring.

As manufacturers are all beginning to focus the majority of investment towards electric cars, upmarket makers like Audi and Jaguar are already releasing battery-powered SUVs with the e-Tron and i-Pace, while the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Volvo are not far behind.

There are less expensive offerings too from Hyundai and Kia both promising an electric range of more than 200 miles on a single charge with the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.

If you're a fan of SUVs and the thought of driving an electric car is something that excites you, this list of seven such cars will be right up your street. They haven't all been released yet, but, within the next year or so, we should begin to see a great surge of electric SUVs hitting british roads.

 

So read on to find out more about what you can buy right now, and whats to come over next 18 months. 

Or, alternatively, if you're not ready to make the electric leap just yet, then you might want to consider a hybrid SUV, which brings reduced emissions and a limited electric range, with the familiarity of a petrol or diesel engine.

Best electric SUVs

1. Audi e-tron

On sale Now
List price from £71,560

The official range between charges of Audi’s e-tron SUV is 248 miles, which is boosted by electric motors that can be set to recover energy aggressively.

In their most efficient setting, they immediately reverse when you take your foot off the accelerator, slowing the car down so much that you’ll rarely need to use the brake - like the e-pedal on the Nissan Leaf. Audi says that you can charge the battery with an extra mile's-worth of range by travelling a mile downhill with your foot off the accelerator.

As with all electric cars, the e-tron’s real-world range will be lower than official figures suggest, but it’s not known whether the energy recovery system will reduce the difference.

The car is extremely aerodynamic, which improves fuel efficiency. That’s partially thanks to the optional rear-facing small cameras that replace side mirrors and display their view on screens inside the car (not seen in the disguised car, above). A recent change in legislation has made these legal.

It's roughly the same size as the Audi Q5, the e-tron should include plenty of space for five adult occupants.

Audi e-Tron buyer's guide

2. BMW iX3

On sale 2020
List price from £60,000 (estimated)

BMW’s electric SUV is based on the current X3, whereas its rivals have been designed as purely electric cars.

It remains to be seen whether the iX3 will be compromised in terms of space or performance, but the company does know how to make a decent electric car, having had the i3 and i8 on sale for several years.

The production model has not yet been revealed, but the concept car shown above gives a strong indication of how the final car will look. A larger grille is the only striking difference between the iX3 and the conventionally-powered car. BMW may well decide to keep the interior similar to the standard X3 too.

An official range of 249 miles is promised, which is identical to the Audi e-tron.

3. Hyundai Kona Electric

On sale Now
List price from £38,600
Latest Hyundai Kona Electric deals from £36,495
Monthly finance from £574

The vastly more expensive cars on this page might be attracting most of the attention, but it's the Hyundai Kona that could really change the way that drivers look at electric cars.

it's affordable for a start - or at least more affordable than the larger vehicles on this page - but still has a real-world range of around 200 miles, if you opt for the 64kWh version with a bigger battery. This range extends towards 300 miles the more economically that you drive.

For a small SUV, the Kona is reasonably spacious. Tall adults won't need to contort themselves to fit into the back seats, but here isn't a great deal of room to stretch out once you're there. Only the 332-litre boot seems a little meagre, with less space on offer than in a Nissan Leaf or Volkswagen e-Golf.

Hyundai Kona Electric buyers' guide

4. Jaguar I-Pace

On sale Now
List price from £64,495
Latest Jaguar I-Pace deals from £51,910
Monthly finance from £666

Jaguar has stolen a march on most of its rivals by launching its all-electric SUV first. Aside from the more expensive Tesla Model X, there’s currently nothing else you can buy that’s like it.

Even when Mercedes, Audi and BMW do join the fray, there’s every chance that the Jaguar i-Pace will remain at the head of the field because it’s an excellent car. The flowing design is low for an SUV, but it feels spacious inside, thanks to the extra room available by not having an engine.

The high-tech dashboard, with dials that appear to float above one of the touchscreens, is fitting for a car of the future, while its performance and nimbleness makes it sporty to drive.

Its official range between charges, of 91 miles, should equate to more than 200 miles in real-world driving, which is more than enough for the vast majority of journeys. A high speed charging network is planned that will charge the battery to 80 per cent capacity in 45 minutes, but public charger speeds are slower now.

Jaguar I-Pace buyers' guide

5. Kia e-Niro

On sale Now, for deliveries in 2020
List price from £36,495

Kia is part of the Hyundai motor group, which is why the electric version of the Niro comes with the same battery and motor setup as the Hyundai Kona Electric. This means that you can expect a real-world range of at least 200 miles from the largest 65kWh battery, with the potential to reach almost 300 miles with careful driving.

The Niro is larger than the Kona, which is most noticeable in terms of boot space: the 451 litre loading area is bigger than you'll find in Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra. Together with the promise of nimble performance and a generous level of equipment, and it has become one of the more affordable options on the electric SUV market.

Unfortunately, such was the e-Niro's popularity upon release, initial stock has run out and there are now lengthy waiting lists for deliveries expected to begin again in 2020.

Kia Niro buyers' guide

6. Mercedes-Benz EQC

On sale Now
List price from £65,720

The statistics for Mercedes’ electric SUV suggest that it’s similar to the Jaguar I-Pace in performance, range, size and price. It’s more conventional in design, though, with a taller shape and a large grille, which hasn’t met with unanimous approval.

An official range of 280 miles should translate to more than 200 miles when driven normally and, like its rivals, the car will accelerate swiftly from 0-62mph. In this case, it takes 5.1 seconds, thanks to the instant response from the electric motors.

At 4.7 metres long, it’s bigger than the family-friendly Mercedes GLC and a little shorter than the larger GLE.

 

7. Tesla Model X

On sale Now
Price from £82,200

For maximum range, space and performance from your electric SUV, the only car to choose is the Tesla Model X.

You will pay for it, though, as prices start at £78,000, including the government’s plug-in car grant, and can easily top £100,000 as you add a larger 100kWh battery to take the car’s official range to 351 miles (expect around 250 miles in real-world driving), and extra sensors that could allow for a self-driving upgrade at some point in the future.

As with any electric car, maximum power can be delivered to the wheels as soon as you press the accelerator, which gives this big SUV sports car-like acceleration. It’s extremely practical too, with a good-sized boot, an extra luggage compartment underneath the bonnet and a seven-seat option.

Getting in the back might be the highlight of Tesla Model X ownership for some: the so-called falcon wing doors are hinged at the top, and rise dramatically over the car. They require little space on either side of the vehicle, which is useful in tight car parks but they are slow to open.

 

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