► The best electric cars with long ranges
► Long-range EVs from Jaguar, Tesla, Kia
► Drive for miles with long-distance cars
‘Range’ is often the first word that springs to mind for many when looking at electric cars – shortly followed by mental images of running out of power on the M25, or facing a bank of defunct charging points in a service station in the middle of nowhere.
How far an electric vehicle (EV) can go on a single charge is one of the biggest barriers to entry for many punters, but it need not be a concern. The latest generation of electric cars have sufficient range to meet most drivers' daily use with ease; many EV owners will simply charge at home and rarely have to bother with the public infrastructure.
Those pushing further afield in their EVs – or drivers who routinely experience heavy traffic or diversions – may well want the car with the longest possible range to provide the most stress-free electric motoring experience.
Fortunately, there are now many electric cars offering claimed ranges in excess of 250 miles – allowing them to travel far and wide on a single charge. This, in conjunction with ever-decreasing charge times, means electric motoring is now an option for even more buyers.
Read on to find out which are the best long-range electric cars of 2020.
Further electric car reading:
We are quickly reaching a point where people who drive short distances regularly can easily fit an electric car into their life – particularly if they have a charger at home or at work – while those who wish to travel further, even the length of the country, can do so with only a small amount of planning.
Some may gripe about having to stop for recharging during long-distance trips but, even if you’re in a conventional car, you’ll no doubt want to stop for a comfort break at some point. In an electric car, that stopping point becomes your opportunity to top up the battery.
Our guide to electric car batteries and tech
The longest range electric cars you can buy in 2020
Considering making the leap? Here are the 10 electric cars with the longest claimed range – measured using the WLTP test cycle – currently on sale in the UK.
1. Tesla Model S Long Range – the electric car with the longest range currently on sale
- 379-mile range (WLTP)
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 was rolled out in late April 2020, grants the Model S Long Range the capability to travel up to 379 miles on a single charge – as measured by the WLTP standard. It’s admittedly a very costly option but, credit where it’s due, the Tesla justifies its premium.
For starters, the Model S has been the go-to luxury electric car for several years, thanks to class-leading range, space for up to five adults, the sprawling Supercharger network and its Autopilot driver assistance features. It’s also a devastatingly quick car; one dash away from the lights is guaranteed to make any passenger think twice about slating the capabilities of electric cars.
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. An even quicker Performance version is offered, too, but its range is a fractionally lower 367 miles.
- 348-mile range (WLTP)
Some three years after first being revealed, the so-called electric car for the masses is finally on sale. Prices start at £40,490 (before taking Tesla’s ambitious petrol savings into account) and for that you get a range of 254 miles.
Up your budget to £46,990 for the Model 3 Long Range, though, and this figure jumps to 348 miles, along with a top speed of 145 mph and a claimed 0-60 time of 4.4sec.
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 – ranging from the sat-nav to the wiper controls – are accessed through the touchscreen.
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. Like the Model S, a Performance version is also offered; it can accelerate from 0-60mph in just 3.2sec, but its maximum claimed range is a lower 329 miles.
- 314-mile range (WLTP)
The Model X is the SUV of the Tesla line-up, and uses the same chassis, battery and electric motors as the Model S – onto which is dropped a taller, roomier bodyshell. Over-engineered almost to excess, the Model X’s party piece is its vertically opening ‘falcon-wing’ rear passenger doors – which can even dance to music, if pointless gadgetry is your thing. It also has the largest panoramic windscreen on any car, granting an airy and open-feeling cabin.
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 0-60mph time. The Model X also shares the same huge central touchscreen on the dashboard, the same Autopilot system, and has access to the Supercharger network for speedy recharging.
The X’s extra weight causes its range to fall slightly compared to the S, coming in at 314 miles for the £82,980 Long Range. Those seeking the ultimate should opt for the Performance version. While its range is slightly shorter, at 301 miles, it can sprint from 0-60mph in a supercar-like 2.6sec. Flat out, it’ll hit 163mph (though you'll batter the electric car range by doing so).
- 292-mile range (WLTP)
Jaguar caught much of the establishment napping when it launched the i-Pace, an electric SUV with the Tesla Model X firmly in its sights. The high-performance SUV was no token EV gesture, either; it was a bespoke, eminently capable car that got a lot right, as we're now finding out in our 2020 long-term test.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that Jaguar didn’t dip its toe into the EV waters with a hybrid first – so to come storming out of the gates in such a fashion is quite the achievement.
With learnings passed along from Jaguar’s Formula E involvement, the i-Pace’s 90kWh battery pushes it to 62mph in 4.5sec, and if you’re more sensible with your right foot you will see a claimed maximum of 292 miles before depleting the battery. Although, as with all electric cars, that long range tends to be shorter in real-world conditions, especially in colder winter months.
Inside the cabin, the Jag’s Touch Duo Pro infotainment system uses physical dials and a touchscreen 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.
- 282-mile range (WLTP)
This Kia lags just 10 miles behind the Jaguar i-Pace in terms of long range, yet costs around £30,000 less, making it exceptional value for money – and a great choice if you want to travel long distances between visits to the charging station.
Its power output may be a comparatively 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, too, including radar cruise control and wireless phone charging. Just watch out for long waiting times, as Kia struggles to keep up with demand.
The e-Niro even comes with what Kia calls Lane Follow Assist, which takes control of the accelerator and brakes during stop-start traffic to follow the vehicle in front. A seven-year warranty is standard as well, which should help subdue any concerns about costly repairs and grief later down the line.
- 278-mile range (WLTP)
The Kona Electric by Hyundai shares the same all-electric drivetrain as the Kia e-Niro, but offers slightly less range, at a claimed 278 miles on the WLTP test cycle for the largest 64kWh battery option. A 39kWh model is also available from £32,900, but that has a range of just 180 miles.
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.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, along with wireless charging for your smartphone. The Kona gets a five-year warranty as well, while the battery is covered for an impressive eight years.
Demand for this capable yet more affordable long-range electric SUV has been high and Hyundai has increased capacity to meet the need; waiting lists were long but there is now a decent supply with shorter lead times, according to UK head office.
- 259-mile range (WLTP)
You might glance at the EQC and consider it to be just another Mercedes-Benz SUV – and that, to some extent, is the point. It’s not supposed to be an attention-grabbing, dramatically styled EV. Instead, the new electric SUV aims to take all that Mercedes is best respected for and wrap it up in one undramatic package.
It is a heavy car, like most large electric SUVs – it clocks in at 2495kg at the kerb – but few will be disappointed by the performance of the big all-wheel-drive Mercedes. The 0-62mph dash is dispatched in 5.1sec but, driven in a restrained fashion, it has the potential to cover a maximum of 259 miles on a single charge. That's an impressively long range.
The EQC is impeccably refined, comfortable and effortless to drive. It should also prove easy to live with so, for those a little wary of electric cars, it could be the ideal option. Always been tempted by a Tesla Model X but concerned about quality and support? Here’s the trouble-free alternative for you.
- 239-mile range (WLTP)
Audi’s first electric car, the e-Tron is a battery-powered SUV with a substantial range that’s granted in part by a large 95kWh battery pack. Unlike some other electric cars on sale today, the Audi can charge at speeds of up to 150kW, 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 per cent will take less than 30 minutes, and a full charge will take a claimed 50 minutes. This makes it ideal for those routinely covering long distances, or for owners who need to rely on intermittent access to public charging infrastructure.
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. Plenty of cutting-edge tech is available, too; the upmarket Launch Edition, for example, comes with drag-reducing camera-based door mirrors.
Like its rivals, the e-Tron is all-wheel drive and features a single motor per axle. In its most powerful ‘boost’ mode, Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 5.7sec. Head out on the autobahn and, wound out to the maximum, expect to see 124mph posted on the e-Tron’s digital displays.
- 239-mile range (WLTP)
The Nissan Leaf has been with us now since 2010, predating the ever-popular Tesla Model S by two years. A second-generation was launched in 2017 and a recent update has boosted the battery of the flagship Leaf from 40kWh to 62kWh. As a result, its range has grown from 168 miles to a stout 239 miles.
You’ll pay a premium for this long-range Leaf, dubbed e+ Tekna, but it remains good value for money and is one of the most affordable everyday electric cars 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 7.1sec, and there are several driving modes to pick from, such as ECO – which dials everything back to allow you to eke out the longest possible range from the battery.
You can even easily drive the Leaf using one pedal, thanks to its ‘e-Pedal’ set-up and strong regenerative braking. Other electric cars do similar but, in any case, this intuitive system works well.
- 193-mile range (WLTP)
BMW updated its i3 in 2018 to increase the range from 159 miles to a more respectable 193 miles. 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 6.9sec. The instant torque delivery, a trait shared by most electric cars, gives the i3 a particularly punchy feel at low speeds.
If the i3 is too expensive, though, you could consider a Renault Zoe. Even in standard form, the affordable Renault electric car will cover 175 miles on a single charge. A second-generation version is just around the corner, too, which is claimed to be capable of travelling 242 miles before it needs plugging in.
Further reading on electric cars