► The longest range EVs you can buy in 2019
► From Tesla to Kia
► Still an important factor for electric cars
It used to be easy to dismiss electric cars on account of their poor battery range and long charge times making it tricky to cover long distances. But this is no longer the case, as the average range of electric cars available to buy in the UK is now 202 miles, according to data from Cornwall Insight.
Range anxiety - the fear of running out of electricity before reaching a charging station - still lingers, but with claimed ranges of over 300 miles - even over 370 miles in some cases - today’s electric cars can go further than ever before, and charge times are decreasing too.
We are quickly reaching a point where people who drive short distances regularly can absolutely fit an electric car into their life - ideally with a charger installed at home or work - and those who wish to travel further, even the length of the country, can do with only a small amount of planning.
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And besides, even if you need to drive for 250 miles, then recharge and cover another couple of hundred, you will surely want to stop for 40 minutes or so along the way, negating the frustrations of waiting for a car to charge when you could be making progress.
The longest range EVs you can buy in 2019
Here are the 10 electric cars with the longest claimed range - measured using the WLTP test cycle - currently on sale in the UK:
Tesla has just updated its Model S and Model X to offer a little more range, thanks to changes made to the cars’ drive units. This update, which began rolling down the production line in late-April, takes the Model S Long Range up to 375 miles, as measured by the WLTP standard.
The Model S has for several years now been the go-to luxury electric car if money is no object, thanks to class-leading range, space for up to five adults and two children, the sprawling Supercharger network, Autopilot driver assistance features, and accelerative performance to 30mph that’ll embarrass the odd supercar.
Elon Musk’s jokes - and early build quality concerns - aside, the Model S is the real deal. And although industry veterans are catching up, the Tesla remains (for now) the electric car to buy if you need the longest range and most comprehensive high-speed charging network. You can also opt for the Model S Standard Range, which offers 280 miles for £72,550.
The newest entrant on this list, at least for UK readers, is the Tesla Model 3. Some three years after first being revealed, the so-called electric car for the masses is finally on sale. Prices start at £38,900 (before taking Tesla’s ambitious petrol savings into account) and for that you get a range of 258 miles.
Up your budget to £47,900 for the Model 3 Long Range, and this figure jumps to 348 miles, along with a top speed of 145 mph and a claimed 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds.
The Model 3 ditches the portrait touchscreen of its siblings in favour of a centrally-mounted landscape display, which serves as the car’s one-and-only point of information. There are no dials behind the steering wheel; instead everything, from speed and sat nav, to music, phone, climate and even wiper controls are found on the touch screen.
Driving the five-seat Model 3 can feel pretty alien at first, but the simplicity soon starts to make sense. It can also be fitted with the same Autopilot system as the Tesla S and X, and while Supercharger stations can be used, all Model 3 buyers must pay each time they plug in.
The Model X is the SUV to the Model S’ saloon, taking the same chassis, battery and electric motors, but fitting a taller, roomier cabin on top. Over-engineered almost to excess, the Model X’s party piece is its vertically-opening ‘falcon-wing’ rear passenger doors - which can dance to music, if you’re that way inclined - and the largest panoramic windscreen on any car.
Despite its seven-seat sensibilities, the Model X has almost the same rocketship performance as the Model S, so if you go all-out you can get an SUV with a sub-three-second 0-60 mph time. The Model X also share the same huge central touchscreen on the dashboard, the same Autopilot system, and access to the Supercharger network.
The X’s extra weight causes its range to fall slightly compared to the S, coming in at 315 miles for the £85,650 Long Range, and 230 miles with the £76,550 Standard Range. Throw caution to the wind, pick the Performance version and add the £8,200 Ludicrous Mode upgrade, and you have a seven-seater with 300 miles of range, a 155 mph top speed - and a claimed 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds.
Jaguar caught much of the carmaking establishment napping when it launched the I-Pace, an electric SUV with the Tesla Model X firmly in its sights. Winner of the 2019 World Car of The Year award, the I-Pace gets a lot right, especially considering Jaguar didn’t dip its toe into the EV waters with a hybrid first.
With learnings passed along from Jaguar’s Formula E involvement, the I-Pace’s 90 kWh battery pushes it to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, and if you’re more sensible with your right foot you will see a claimed 292 miles before depleting the battery.
Inside, the Jag’s Touch Duo Pro infotainment system uses physical dials and a touch screen to help offer the best of both worlds; it’s a similar system to that used in the latest Range Rovers, and feels more intuitive than the all-touch approach taken by Tesla.
Jaguar doesn’t have its own charging network like Tesla (no one does) but the I-Pace can be topped up by the thousands of public chargers scattered across the UK.
This Kia lags just 10 miles behind the Jaguar I-Pace in terms of range, yet costs from almost £30,000 less, making it exceptional value for money when it comes to driving long distances between visits to the charging station.
Power output may be a modest 201bhp, but as with all modern electric cars, the e-Niro can sprint away from the traffic lights with hot-hatch eagerness. The flagship First Edition comes with a broad range of extra kit as standard, including radar cruise control, wireless phone charging, and what Kia calls Lane Follow Assist, which takes control of the accelerator and brakes during stop-start traffic to follow the vehicle in front.
The all-electric e-Niro (there are hybrid and plug-in hybrid models too) has been such a hit that it is currently sold out in the UK, with a waiting list now in place for deliveries in 2020.
The Kona Electric by Hyundai shares the same all-electric drivetrain as the Kia e-Niro, but offers slightly less range, at a claimed 279 miles on the WLTP test cycle for the largest 64 kWh battery option. A 39 kWh model is also available from £30,750, but that has a range of just 180 miles.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, along with wireless charging for your smartphone. As with the Kia, the Hyundai also has paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the strength of the regenerative braking, and a ‘melodic driving sound’ emitted outside helps to alert pedestrians and cyclists to the otherwise near-silent car.
As with the Kia e-Niro, the Hyundai Kona Electric is also sold out in the UK, with a waiting list in place for deliveries due in 2020.
Audi’s first electric car, the e-Tron is a battery-powered SUV with a range of almost 250 miles from its large 95 kWh battery pack. Unlike some other electric cars on sale today, the Audi can charge at speeds of up to 150 kW, which means it’ll be compatible with the next generation of rapid chargers when they arrive in the UK. This will mean top-ups from near-empty to 80% will take less than 30 minutes, and a full charge will take a claimed 50 minutes.
Inside, the Audi e-Tron has a pair of touch screen displays in the centre of its dashboard, neatly mixing iPad-like touch interactions with the familiar tactility of buttons, knobs and dials.
Standard equipment includes LED headlights and leather power-adjustable seats, while the £82,720 Launch Edition gets larger 21-inch wheels, a 350-degree parking camera, and a pair of digital wing mirrors, which use cameras and displays fitted on the interior door panels. This feature - a staple of concept cars for many years, but forbidden on the road until now - helps decrease aerodynamic drag, improving efficiency and increasing range.
The battery sends its power to a motor on each axle, meaning Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive is present and correct. Peak power is 402 bhp, which gives the e-Tron a 0-62 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph.
The Nissan Leaf has been with us now since 2010, pre-dating the Tesla Model S by two years, and recently received an update, the e+ model, to boost the battery capacity and range from 40 kWh and 168 miles to a more impressive 62 kWh and 239 miles.
Despite the extra range, the Leaf remains good value and one of the most affordable electric cars currently on sale in the UK. It is also one of the most popular, and was the first electric car to sell more than 400,000 units worldwide, a figure it surpassed in March 2019.
The flagship e+ Tekna comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, accessed via an 8-inch touch screen, plus the car’s own navigation system powered by TomTom.
Nissan states the zero-to-62mph sprint takes 7.1 seconds, and there are several driving modes to pick from, ranging from D for more power, to ECO when you want to eek out more energy from the battery pack on a longer drive. The company makes a big deal about the Leaf’s one-pedal driving system, but this is simply how the regenerative braking systems of electric cars works - the more you lift the pedal, the quicker it slows down, meaning you rarely need to press the brake pedal itself.
BMW updated its i3 in 2018 to increase the range from 159 miles to a more respectable 193. But, while even that figure is starting to put BMW a little behind the game compared to other options featured here, the i3’s design still looks modern and fresh - albeit one which tends to split opinion wherever it goes.
The cabin feels airy, modern and minimalist - a look accentuated if you go for the optional bamboo trim - and the backwards-opening doors only increase the car’s quirky look. The dashboard features a 5.7-inch TFT display as an instrument cluster, plus a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
BMW has given the i3 the same carbon fibre reinforced plastic construction as its i8 hybrid flagship, and the new i3s - that’s s for sport - produces 184bhp and has a 0-62 mph time of 6.9 seconds. The instant torque delivery - a trait shared by most electric cars - gives the i3 a particularly punchy feel at low speeds.
Finally, the Renault Zoe and its 186-mile range just sneaks into this top 10. The Zoe first went into production in 2012 and a new model is expected later in 2019, so unless you can pick up a real bargain and don’t have long electric journeys in mind, you might be better off holding out for the update.
That said, the current Zoe is a fair bit cheaper than a lot of its rivals and for some drivers will make an excellent zero-emissions city car, given its compact dimensions.
Charging rate is limited to 43 kw, so even with a fast public charger you’re looking at around 100 minutes to refill the 40 kWh battery, according to Renault’s own claims.
Despite its low price and modest size, the Zoe still comes with TomTom navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity via a 7-inch touch screen. There’s also rear parking sensors and keyless go, while the pricier S Edition gets a premium Bose sound system, a reversing camera and larger 17-inch wheels.
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