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Best electric cars 2018 UK: our pick of the best EVs you can buy

Published: 12 February 2018

► The best electric cars 2018 in the UK
► Our guide to the best EVs
► Battery cars, plugs-ins and more 

In 2018 electric cars aren’t just a novelty - they’re a viable form of transport and all the major manufacturers are releasing more and more of them every year. From the Jaguar I-Pace to the new Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, EVs are proving very popular. But which one should you buy, and is an electric car right for you in the first place? 

In this guide, we talk you through CAR magazine’s pick of the best electric vehicles (EVs) that you can buy now, and in the near future. So, want to know the best electric car for you? Keep reading to find out.

Best electric car 2018: buying guide

Like any fossil-fuel powered car, EVs come in all shapes and sizes, and which EV is best for you will depend on a variety of factors. You’ll need proper access to charging points at work and/or home so you can top up your battery enough to meet your typical daily range.

And if you intend to use an electric car for longer journeys, make sure your local trunk roads and motorways have the infrastructure to support charging en route or consider an alternative, such as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) which mixes battery tech and petrol or diesel power to provide a get-out-of-jail-free card for when pure electric range simply isn’t enough.

We’ve split our favourite EVs into categories to suit different lifestyles, budgets and demand for green credentials. Browse 2018’s best electric cars in our listings below - and be sure to sound off in the comments at the foot of the page.

Best electric cars for families

New 2018 Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf: one of the UK's best electric cars and EVs

The world’s first mass-market electric car is back in v2.0 as a better-than-ever family electric car. Priced from around £26k, the new 2018 Nissan Leaf uses carryover mechanicals but sprinkled with a whole lot of better battery tech and a fresh wardrobe to bring it in line with the latest Nissan family look espoused by Qashqai et al. Nissan quotes a real-world range approaching 200 miles, giving the Leaf true everyday practicality creds.
Read our full Nissan Leaf review
Browse Nissan Leaf cars for sale

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Hyundai Ioniq Electric: one of the UK's best EVs

Hyundai offers its sensible Ioniq family car in a variety of powertrains - including a pure electric version costing £29,495. If you’re still nervous about going fully EV, you can alternatively pick a hybrid or plug-in hybrid version, providing a tad more reassurance on longer journeys. All Ioniqs have decent cabin space for families of four or five and a decent boot.
Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review
Browse Hyundai Ioniq cars for sale

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X: a seven-seater, practical electric car

Need space for seven? A swanky Tesla badge? And all the modernity and clever-clogs tech the brand has become famous for? Step this way: the Model X is half crossover, half MPV, but all Tesla electric car. Famous for its cleverly hinged gullwing rear doors that open even in the tightest of car park spaces, the interior is roomy for five and the rearmost third-row seats are fine for kids on short journeys. It’s pricey though, costing from £75k in the UK for a Model X 75D entry-level model.
Read our full Tesla Model X review

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: becoming a familiar sight on our roads for execs wanting an EV

The Model X’s more sensible four-door saloon sibling, the Tesla Model S is the landmark electric car that set the cat among the pigeons. It’s well established now and brought a dash of executive style to the EV marketplace years before the Europeans finally caught up. It has a very long range, nudging 300 miles in many trim levels, and performance is - quite literally - Ludicrous in the higher-powered models, which can dispatch 0-60mph in around three seconds dead. These are practical saloon cars, with plenty of space for five, a fully flat floor for rear-seat passengers and there are even occasional pop-up sixth and seventh bench seats in the boot available as an option for short-haul trips. All Teslas benefit from the brand’s fledgling Supercharger network for rapid recharging.
Read our Tesla Model S long-term test review

VW e-Golf

VW e-Golf: looks like a Golf, is a Golf. But is also electric...

Everything you like about the VW Golf, just in a cleaner, silent electric package. This is grassroots motoring, albeit at a price: the electric e-Golf starts at around £32k in the UK. For that outlay, you get all the usual Volkswagen attributes - first-rate build quality, clever connectivity and generous packaging - but with a silent powertrain that will save you plenty of cash in cheaper running costs. For many, this could be the ideal stepping stone electric car - mixing conventional looks with cutting-edge technology.
Read our VW e-Golf review
Browse VW Golf cars for sale

Best small electric cars for urban use

BMW i3

BMW i3: a quality premium electric car

Pick your BMW i3 in pure electric or plug-in range-extender forms. The i3 EV is the simplest of all, and mixes clever F1-spec carbonfibre construction with futuristic styling to make a great city car. With the tightest turning circle you’ve ever driven, this tiny BMW is extremely agile around town and there’s plenty of room in both rows of seats for bodies, although a small boot is a blot on the copy book. It feels every inch a small BMW to drive, with agile handling and that Germanic precision to the controls that impart a true premium feel. Prices start at around £34,000 and there are usually monthly finance deals starting at less than £300 a month - bringing EV ownership to within reach of more motorists.
Read our BMW i3 long-term test review
Browse BMW i3 cars for sale

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

Another conventionally shaped car with a radical all-electric powertrain. It’s pricey for a small car (costing around £30k in the UK), but these batteries don’t come cheap, remember - and the electric Soul will qualify for the Government’s plug-in car grant, lopping £4500 off the list price. Kia quotes a driving range of 132 miles, so it won’t go as far as some rivals, but it’s pleasant to drive and performance is brisk around town. This remains a funky-looking tallboy hatchback; just watch out for the small 281-litre boot, which is on the tight side.
Read our Kia Soul EV review
Browse Kia Soul cars for sale

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe: now with bigger battery power

One of our favourite small electric cars: the Zoe is cracking value at around £14,000 once you’ve factored the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant which lops £4500 off the list price. This is a bespoke EV, with no petrol or diesel iterations available, and changes wrought in 2017 added a significantly longer battery range of up to 250 miles on the official cycle. In the real world, that translates to 186 miles in warm weather, falling to 124 miles in the winter for the big-batteried model.
Read our Renault Zoe review
Browse Renault Zoe cars for sale

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

If ever a regular combustion engine car was ready for electrification, it was the Smart Fortwo. This diminutive two-seater has been streaking around our city streets for two decades now and Daimler has seen sense and equipped it with an electric motor and battery for zero emissions and whisper-quiet urban transport. Smart has been developing its Electric Drive models for many years now and it’s managed to get the cost of Fortwo EV down to around £16k after the Government grant. It drives much like a regular Fortwo and we found performance around town to be more than ample; only out on M-ways and faster roads did we feel it felt out of its depth.
Read our Smart Fortwo Electric Drive review
Browse Smart Fortwo cars for sale

VW e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up: the electric version of the Up city car

A Smeg fridge on wheels’ we opined when we first drove the electric Up city car. Despite having a name that’d make a Yorkshireman grimace, the e-Up is a typically polished Germanic affair with all the usual Volkswagen quality and attention to detail. However, it broaches the £20k price threshold and has an unfortunately short 99-mile EV range, which will limit its practicality. If you really do just want to strut around town silently in a tax- and environmentally-efficient fashion, the VW e-Up might be for you. If you need more miles in your range, then look elsewhere.
Read our VW e-Up review
Browse VW Up cars for sale

Best electric cars for enthusiasts

Morgan EV3 Electric

The Morgan EV3: electric power comes to the olde worlde

Electric cars don’t come any more thrilling than this: the classic Morgan Three-Wheeler tuned up with an electric powertrain. So you get all the fun and hand-crafted special feeling of the bespoke Three-Wheeler with bang-up-to-date technology for an unusual ancient-meets-modern transport. Impressively, the Morgan Motor Company claims the finished result weighs less than 500kg and quotes a range of 150 miles. The Morgan EV3 is being built in partnership with Frazer-Nash Energy Systems and will go on sale in 2018. One for if you’re feeling brave…
Read more about the Morgan EV3
Browse all our Morgan reviews

Nio EP9

The Nio EP9: electric cars don't come any more serious than this

If money really is no object, the Nio EP9 is one of the most extreme electric cars on sale anywhere. It’s already shattered the Nurburgring lap record thanks to a megawatt of power from its brawny electric motors. Yes, that’s the equivalent of 1360bhp and there’s an equally punchy-sounding 1092lb ft of torque to boot. The end result is 0-62mph in just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 196mph. You can read our review below to find out just how extreme that performance feels, but there might be a small fly in the ointment: this thing costs £1.2 million (before tax) and is very much in the experimental pioneer phase...
Read our Nio EP9 review

Coming soon… the best future electric cars

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3: the new, cheaper Tesla electric car

We’ve recommended the pricey but excellent Tesla Model S and X above - but from 2019, you’ll be able to buy the ‘game-changing’ Model 3 too. It’s already in low-volume production in the US, but we must wait for right-hand drive sales in the UK - and that means we don’t know the price yet, either. If it costs the rumoured £35k, that could indeed change the game, and tempt many motorists from their plug-in BMWs and Mercedes.

Jaguar i-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace: the first electric Jag

The first all-electric Jaguar is launching in 2018 and we’ve already ridden in the e-SUV as a prototype. Expect styling compatible with E-Pace and F-Pace but electrical wizardry to decimate your fuel bills and a whole new lexicon of Jag driving dynamics.

Mercedes EQ

The Mercedes EQ: a new brand for future electric Mercs - an SUV like this will arrive in 2018

Mercedes-Benz is busy preparing a new range of electric cars, developed under the EQ banner. The first model will be an SUV with batteries instead of combustion engines. ‘You will see it in 2018… and the price will be comparable to a top-end GLC,’ the project chief told CAR magazine. Expect Merc to roll out the branding and tech at lightning speed.

Porsche Mission E

Porsche Mission E: an electric four-door sports saloon is due in 2019

Even sports car maker Porsche is getting in on the act: the Mission E is the first all-electric car from Zuffenhausen and you can expect incendiary performance, a choice of different power outputs (think Carrera, Carrera S and - maybe - even Turbo model ladder) and charging times of around 250 miles in just 20 minutes. Could be a game-changer...

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster: a very fast EV

If performance is your thing, the new Tesla Roadster v2 due in 2020 is hard to ignore. In typical Elon Musk fashion, the entrepreneur has decreed that the first open-top Tesla will also be the world’s fastest car - with 0-60mph in a claimed 1.9sec. That’s what happens when you plumb 7300lb ft of torque through a lightweight four-seater targa bodyshell. Bearing in mind some of the outrageous claims made for other Teslas (and the company’s inability to launch cars on schedule and budget), we might take its 250mph top speed and 620-mile range with a pinch of salt.

Read all our electric car reviews here

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds