► The best electric cars of 2023
► Our guide to the UK’s top EVs
► Electric car buying advice and more
The world is changing, and gradually petrol and diesel cars are being pushed out by electric vehicles. Sales of electric cars have overtaken diesel cars, and they now make up around one in seven new vehicles registered in Britain. That’s impressive growth and comes from more choice in the EV market, as well as cheaper electric car options.
Why are more people opting to plug in? Well, there are more EVs on the market in 2023 than ever before – every day seems to bring news of the latest fresh model launch, and there are myriad new brands arriving, especially from China. In addition to falling costs, there are models of all shapes and sizes, from electric SUVs to sports cars and small, compact EVs too.
Motorists’ nervousness about making the switch is slowly receding, with the longest-range electric cars helping to eliminate range anxiety.
The best at a glance
- Best budget electric car Fiat 500e
- Best family electric car Kia EV6
- Best sports EV Porsche Taycan
Read on for our guide to the best electric cars and EVs of 2023 to help people thinking of going electric. Not everyone will be ready to plug in, but CAR magazine’s journalists have tested every electrified car on sale today and have unbiased, helpful advice in this article to help you make a better decision.
The best electric cars 2023
Best for buyers wanting the Porsche of EVs
Pros: Sublime to drive, rapid charging, familiar Porsche controls
Cons: The shooting brakes aren’t as roomy as you’d like
The Porsche Taycan is an incredible technical achievement. It does the things we all enjoy about driving – accelerating, braking, going around corners – with supreme alacrity, and features a massive well of capability largely untapped by normal driving. Porsche offers cheaper, rear-wheel drive variants to sit alongside the toppy Turbo, Turbo S and 4S models – and even the slowest electric saloon can scamper from 0-62mph in 5.4sec. Taycan prices start at £79,200.
Read our full Porsche Taycan review
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Best for EV owners who want to stand out from the crowd
Pros: Postmodern style, space onboard, long range
Cons: It’s a supersized hatchback – much bigger than it looks in pics
Hyundai has really stepped things up with the Ioniq 5, producing an exceedingly well-rounded electric car that’s dripping in retro-inspired yet futuristic design touches. We’d skip past the entry-level 58kWh battery on account of its 238-mile range and instead plump for the 72.6kWh pack with twin-motor four-wheel drive.
Range jumps to 285 miles, and the 5.2 second 0-62mph time is significantly quicker than either single-motor model. In this spec, it’s fun to drive once you get used to a bit of body roll, something that’s easy to accept, given the comfortable ride. The Ioniq 5 starts from £43,445.
Read our full Hyundai Ioniq 5 review
Best for families wanting performance and long range
Pros: Modern style, choice of battery sizes, sweet to drive
Cons: Design not quite as crisp as sister brand Hyundai’s
Kia’s flagship EV6 is available in single-motor two-wheel drive or twin-motor four-wheel drive flavours. All regular models are capable of 300+ miles according to WLTP testing, while those happy to sacrifice some range for performance might be interested in the hot 577bhp EV6 GT.
Even lesser models handle well, with good performance and a comfortable ride. It’s similar in size to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 on which it’s based, meaning plentiful space for passengers to lounge front and rear. There’s a capacious boot, too, making it a perfectly practical choice for families. It’s our sister site Parkers’ Large Electric Car of the Year for 2023, too. Prices for the EV6 range start at £45,245.
Read our full Kia EV6 review
Best for those wanting an electric 3-series
Pros: Trademark BMW dynamics intact, interior tech won’t scare you
Cons: Is it too anonymous?
Forget about the BMW i3, i8 or the iX – the BMW i4 is an altogether different approach to electric power. And while it doesn’t outwardly look as innovative as previous cars produced by the BMW i division, it’s easily one of the best electric cars you can buy in the UK today. There are two i4s to choose from: an eDrive40 with rear-wheel drive, 335bhp and a claimed range of 367 miles, or the M40 with 537bhp twin-motor all-wheel drive machine that also happens to be the first ever all-electric M-car for £12k more.
Underneath you’ll find the same Gen5 BMW electric drive tech, though here it’s not wrapped in a part carbon construction like the iX. Regardless, you won’t care when behind the wheel; both models of the i4 stab the accelerator, and the i4 reacts with the kind of instant thrust that makes you think of computer game. Regardless of which one you choose, there are still so many core BMW traits in here: alert steering, outstanding ride and handling balance, a clean, well-built and user-friendly interior, and plenty of power being just some of them. Prices start from £49,995.
Read our full BMW i4 review
MG 4 EV
Best for EV owners on a tight budget
Pros: Rapid, fun to drive and does the range it says on the tin
Cons: Interior is a little too Playmobil for our liking
MG’s electric cars until now have been good value, dull but worthy things that did nothing for the brand’s image as a purveyor of Chinese knock-offs. The 4, called the Mulan in other markets, is a totally different kettle of fish. It’s all-new, based on a scalable EV platform, with a range that will extend from its current Standard and Long range models to both an Extended range car and a 443bhp AWD electric hot hatchback.
It’s good to drive, the interior’s not too bad, it’s loaded with equipment – yet the entry-level model undercuts a VW ID.3 by ten grand, with finance packages that look insanely tempting. This isn’t just a good cheap electric car, it’s a good electric car full stop – that just happens to be remarkable value. At £26,995 for the entry-level spec, it’s very affordable.
Read our full MG 4 review
Tesla Model 3
Best for motorists seeking a long-range EV with security of Supercharger network
Pros: The original disruptor, intergalactic range, rapid performance
Cons: Interior quality still not quite up there with the Germans
The Model 3 has cemented itself as the UK’s most popular electric car and for good reason. It might be the least expensive Tesla available, but even in entry-level form, few are likely to be disappointed – as even the base model packs a claimed 305-mile range and the ability to sprint from 0-60mph in just 5.8sec. It even comes with the Autopilot drive assistance system, which takes the edge off long trips and adds to the space-age feel.
The Long Range dual-motor version with all-wheel drive and increased range is available; it can cover a claimed 374 miles and serves up a sports car-rivalling 0-60mph time of 4.2sec. The top-of-the-range Performance drops that time to 3.1sec with a range tumbling to 340 miles. If you want something a bit more practical, we’d point you in the direction of the larger Model Y, though that does come with some caveats. Take a look at our recent group test, and you’ll see the larger sibling of the model Y lost out to the Kia EV6. Prices start from £42,990.
Read our full Tesla Model 3 review
Renault Megane E-Tech Electric
Best for those wanting Gallic flair from their EV
Pros: Attractive looks, roomy interior, simple to drive
Cons: Ride quality a bit lumpen
Available with either 129bhp and a 186-mile range or 215bhp and a more useful 292-mile range, this front-wheel drive hatchback has gained plenty of SUV attitude in its transformation.
It’s good to drive and has plenty of room inside, so if the price is as competitive as promised, it’s well worth shortlisting. It netted a win in our sister site Parkers’ 2023 New Car Awards, taking the trophy for the Best Medium Electric Car. Prices start from £36,995.
Read our full Renault Megane E-Tech review
Best for Saloon EV fans after some Scandi style
Pros: Minimalist interior, Swedish style throughout, ace to drive
Cons: It’s cramped. Really cramped compared to many clean-sheet EVs
The Polestar 2 is a cracking addition to the shopping list for mid-sized EV buyers. Hailing from Sweden’s Volvo, Polestar is a relatively new start-up that carries across the Scandi chic design values and quality from its sister brand, but wrapped up in a more progressive, modern vibe. This car ushers in Google’s first Android OS, so there are very few buttons (sound familiar, Tesla?), and everything is operated from a touchscreen or by the Hey Google voice assistant.
Sensible front-wheel drive models get a choice of two battery sizes, with the potent twin motor coming with the higher-capacity pack only. It’s good to drive with the optional Performance pack, too. Looks slick and is very well-built. We’ve spent half a year in the Polestar 2 and found we could reliably get a 200-mile trip from the Long Range models without having to recharge. Pricing starts from £44,950.
Read our full Polestar 2 review
Best for sensible families wanting to plug in
Pros: Roomy and full of common-sense features
Cons: It’s all a bit dull
The Skoda Enyaq’s £38,970 starting price seems fair for the iV 60 model. It’s comfortable, well-sorted to drive, and does a great job of appealing to as many drivers as possible. Friendlier and more luxurious than a Kia e-Niro and looks better inside and out than a Volkswagen ID.4 – which is very, very good for the Skoda Enyaq iV and worrying for Volkswagen. If you want a practical, roomy family EV, look no further.
Read our full Skoda Enyaq review
Best for tech heads
Pros: Positively dripping with clever-clogs tech features
Cons: The actual driving experience is more mundane
As you’d expect from the name, the Mercedes EQE is the electric equivalent of the E-Class. Unlike some EQ-badged cars (think EQA, EQB, EQC and EQV) that share a platform with their internal combustion equivalent, the EQW has a bespoke electric architecture to best package a giant battery and larger interior.
The EQE might not have the show-stopping tech of its larger EQS sibling – there’s no Hyperscreen here – but what it lacks trinkets, it more than makes up for in build quality and handling. The EQE is, without a doubt, the most refined, solid EQ car on sale so far. Prices start at £74,345.
Read our full Mercedes EQE review
Best for well-heeled families who still enjoy a sharp drive
Pros: Ace to drive, long-range, a lovely interior
Cons: Whither BMW design elegance?
Whatever you think of that large-nostrilled nose, or that rear overhang, you aren’t going to mistake the BMW iX for any other car. That’s good news for Munich because BMW has put some serious engineering effort into its new electric SUV. It’s full of tech and performance, from the Integrated Brake system that manages slowing the car via the motors and/or friction – to the 0-62mph time of the XDrivce50 model and its tested 305-mile range.
Above everything else, BMW’s new iX is incredibly intriguing. It’s such a dramatic step in its design inside and out for BMW (even by its own recent radical standards) and yet still has plenty of the brand’s DNA sewn into it. An expensive but spacious and premium SUV. Prices start from £69,905.
Read our full BMW iX review
Fiat 500 Electric
Best for city dwellers and those needing a bijou battery baby
Pros: Chic, modish style, perfect for zipping across town
Cons: Even bigger-batteried version may struggle on longer commutes
Don’t think that Fiat simply rammed a load of batteries up the backside of the ageing 500 – the latest 500 Electric is a brand new car from the ground up. It’s marginally larger than the combustion-engined 500 that still lumbers on in Hybrid guise 15 years after launch, although the rear seats are still cramped and the boot rather small. Still, that’s the price you pay for the compact dimensions.
Two battery sizes are offered, with 115 miles of WLTP range in the smaller-celled Action and 199 miles in the bigger-batteried version. Crucially, it’s far better to drive than the 500 Hybrid, with decent handling and punchy performance. It also looks ace and has a reasonable price (for an EV). It’s also our sister site Parkers’ Best Small Electric Car for 2023. It starts at £28,195.
Read our full Fiat 500 electric review
Best electric cars: an EV buying guide
The sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars will be banned in the UK from 2030. With increased focus on reducing CO2 emissions, car makers are rushing to produce more EVs – and that means more choices for the consumer.
What to look for in an EV
Like any fossil-fuel-powered car, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) come in all shapes and sizes, and which EV is best for you will depend on a variety of factors – such as your average daily mileage, type of driving you do, where you live and your access to private or public charging points. There’s no point having an electric car if it can’t accommodate your usage or if the infrastructure isn’t there to support it, after all.
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). These cars mix 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.
If you want to know more about the best hybrids on the market, check out our separate explainer here.
The reality is that most electric car owners will rarely have to charge up in public; if you have off-street parking and the ability to charge at home, the latest EVs will manage most of your day-to-day driving needs just by charging your battery pack domestically overnight.
One EV brand in China – the innovative new Nio start-up – is even pioneering battery-swap stations, where a robot will replace your car’s depleted battery for a fully charged one while in just five minutes.
Pure electric cars will also save you money every single year because they’re exempt from road tax – for now, at least. Don’t miss our handy guide to how VED car tax favours EVs here.
Why are electric cars so expensive?
EVs might cost more to buy in cash than their petrol or diesel counterparts today, but the gap is narrowing. Vauxhall, Peugeot, and Mini all have models that can run on petrol, or electric and comparative prices are pretty similar.
Leasing prices are even more eye-opening. Costs vary wildly depending on the car, but broadly speaking, cheap electric cars are the same amount to lease as cheap petrol cars. Renault Zoes and Renault Clios are both in the market for around £200 per month with the same terms.
Our advice? Be sure to do the maths before plugging in. EVs are more expensive to buy up front – but if your usage patterns and energy bills work out, then going electric might be the right choice for you.
Tim Pollard is the Group Digital Editorial Director of CAR magazine and our sister website Parkers.co.uk and has driven every electric car listed in our Best Electric Car guide – and plenty more besides!
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