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Best electric cars by real-world range that you can buy NOW

Got range anxiety? Here’s how far you can expect to be able to travel in the latest electric models on sale in showrooms right now

Following Theresa May’s announcement this week that Britain will become the first major economy to put into law a net zero emissions target for 2050, motorists will be wondering what that means for the cars they’ll be driving in the not too distant future.

Many will be querying if an electric car is really suitable for their needs, especially when it comes to long-distance journeys.

Fortunately, real world tests are already proving the ranges of electric models that are on sale today – and this is how far they can go, according to the measurements.

What Car? has been publishing real range figures for electric cars for almost a year.

It conducts controlled and repeatable assessments of each plug-in model on sale in the UK to compare what manufacturers tell you about battery range and what is really achievable when driving on the road.

There are some big discrepancies between the ‘official’ and real-world ranges, and there’s a staggering 202-mile differences in the ranges of the best and worst new electric cars you can buy in showrooms today.

What Car? also calculates the cost to fully charge each model and the price per mile using an average electricity rate of 12p per kilowatt hour.

Prices listed for each model are inclusive of the £3,500 low-emission vehicles (OLEV) grant subsidy currently provided for electric cars by the government.

Here’s a run-down of 14 cars you can buy in showrooms now, from the lowest real range in miles to the highest…

JUST HOW FAR WILL YOUR ELECTRIC CAR REALLY TAKE YOU? THE LATEST MODELS RANKED BY RANGE 

14. Smart ForFour EQ

What Car? Real range: 57 miles

The Smart ForFour has the shortest range of any electric car What Car? has tested so far

The Smart ForFour has the shortest range of any electric car What Car? has tested so far

Smart ForFour EQ 

Official range: 68 miles

What Car? Real Range: 57 miles 

Full charge cost: £2.42 

Cost per mile: £0.042 

Price new: from £18,190

The Smart ForFour isn’t the most accomplished electric car. 

In fact, it has the shortest range of any plug-in model What Car? has tested so far.

Small and nippy, it’s suitable for those who only want to do short journeys in towns and cities. 

Its merits as being a one and only car in your family are restricted by its puny 57-mile range.

13. Smart ForTwo EQ

What Car? Real range: 59 miles

The Smart ForTwo is aimed at those living in the city. With a maximum range of 59 miles, you won't want to venture to far from the metropolis

The Smart ForTwo is aimed at those living in the city. With a maximum range of 59 miles, you won’t want to venture to far from the metropolis

Smart ForTwo EQ 

Official range: 70 miles

What Car? Real Range: 59 miles

Full charge cost: £2.43 

Cost per mile: £0.042 

Price new: from £19,835

Smart’s smallest model – the ForTwo – is also available with an electric drivetrain, but the battery range is almost as disappointing as the larger ForFour.

What Car? tested the Cabrio (not yet the Coupe) and found it will do just 59 miles on a full charge – a meager two miles more than its bigger sibling. 

Despite being dinkier it’s pricier than the four-door model.

12. Volkswagen e-Up

What Car? Real range: 66 miles

The e-Up is Volkswagen's answer to a small electric model using a car that's already available in its range

The e-Up is Volkswagen’s answer to a small electric model using a car that’s already available in its range

Volkswagen e-Up 

Official range: 83 miles

What Car? Real Range: 66 miles 

Full charge cost: £2.28

Cost per mile: £0.035 

Price new: from £19,615

The Up is a great city car and the addition of electric power makes it an even better option – as long as you’re limiting yourself predominantly to the city.

With a 66-mile range, it’s not going to be all that practical if you’ve got a commute than exceeds 30 miles. 

It’s also almost twice the price of the cheapest petrol-powered Up – even with the plug-in car grant – which costs £10,080.

11. Hyundai Ioniq

What Car? Real range: 117 miles

Hyundai's Ioniq is available as a full electric, plug-in hybrid or conventional hybrid model. The battery-electric-only version has just over 100 miles of range

Hyundai’s Ioniq is available as a full electric, plug-in hybrid or conventional hybrid model. The battery-electric-only version has just over 100 miles of range

Hyundai Ioniq 

Official range: 174 miles

What Car? Real Range: 117 miles 

Full charge cost: £3.57 

Cost per mile: £0.030 

Price new: from £26,745

The official range is still based on the old (and out of date) NEDC test cycle, which is why the Ioniq falls so short of the claims. 

For a £27,000 family car, it will come down to personal requirements if 117 miles of range is enough.

In the Ioniq’s defence the interior is very smart. 

And if you don’t want a full-electric model there is a hybrid or plug-in hybrid variant.

10. Volkswagen e-Golf

What Car? Real range: 117 miles

The e-Golf will soon be replaced by Volkswagen's new I.D.3, which should blitz this 117 mile range

The e-Golf will soon be replaced by Volkswagen’s new I.D.3, which should blitz this 117 mile range

Volkswagen e-Golf 

Official range: 186 miles

What Car? Real Range: 117 miles 

Full charge cost: £4.27 

Cost per mile: £0.036 

Price new: from £29,230

Like the Hyundai Ioniq, the e-Golf’s claimed range is based on the old NEDC cycle. 

That said, 117 miles of battery life from a car that costs almost £30,000 inclusive of a £3,500 discount is a little disappointing.

The biggest compliment you can pay the e-Golf is that it feels like any other Golf – premium. 

VW’s forthcoming I.D.3 will be its replacement, and will be a far more capable model.

9. Nissan Leaf

What Car? Real range: 128 miles

The Nissan Leaf is one of the best-selling electric cars yet. There's one available with a claimed 239-mile range that should go further than the small-capacity version tested here

The Nissan Leaf is one of the best-selling electric cars yet. There’s one available with a claimed 239-mile range that should go further than the small-capacity version tested here

Nissan Leaf 

Official range: 168 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 128 miles 

Full charge cost: £5.40 

Cost per mile: £0.042 

 

Price new: from £24,495

The first-generation Leaf was the electric car to have half a decade ago, but this second-generation version hasn’t yet proved as popular.

There’s another version available with a higher-capacity battery that has a claimed 239-mile range, though the one tested here is a more limited 168-mile option. 

What Car? says you should expect 128 miles from a full charge in the less rangier of the two.

8. Renault Zoe

What Car? Real range: 146 miles

The Zoe is unique as you can buy the car and lease the battery. It's Renault's approach to help customers get over the idea of battery life

The Zoe is unique as you can buy the car and lease the battery. It’s Renault’s approach to help customers get over the idea of battery life

Renault Zoe 

Official range: 186 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 146 miles 

Full charge cost: £6.03 

Cost per mile: £0.041 

Price new: from £17,720

The Zoe is an interesting prospect for car buyers as it offers the choice of either owning the battery supplied with the vehicle or buying the car and leasing the battery.

Either way, the Zoe is one of the most accomplished small electric car on the market at the moment, capable of fairly long-distance travel on top of its town-driving credentials. 

In our opinion it’s the best value at the moment.

7. BMW i3

What Car? Real range: 165 miles

The i3 has been around since 2014 but still looks and feels light years ahead thanks to its quirky cabin

The i3 has been around since 2014 but still looks and feels light years ahead thanks to its quirky cabin

BMW i3 

Official range: 193 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 165 miles 

Full charge cost: £6.94 

Cost per mile: £0.042 

Price new: from £31,680

The i3 has been on sale since 2014 and BMW has upgraded it in recent years to provide more power and – importantly – extra range.

With this latest 120Ah battery, it can manage lengthy stints at the wheel between charges. 

A unique design, gorgeous interior and funky coach-door system explain why it’s the third best-selling electric car ever after the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf.

6. Audi e-tron

What Car? Real range: 196 miles

Priced from almost £70,000, you'll need deep pockets if you want Audi's new e-tron SUV

Priced from almost £70,000, you’ll need deep pockets if you want Audi’s new e-tron SUV

Audi e-tron 

Official range: 248 miles

What Car? Real Range: 196 miles

Full charge cost: £13.43 

Cost per mile: £0.069 

Price new:  from £68,020

This is where the cars start to grow in size, range and – certainly in the case of the Audi e-tron – price. 

Costing just shy of £70,000, it’s not cheap.

In a production-car first, customers can choose if they want to have wing mirrors or benefit from a little extra aerodynamic performance (and maybe the odd mile or two in range) by swapping them for cameras that beam the rearward view to a display on a screen in the cabin.

5. Tesla Model S (75D)

What Car? Real range: 204 miles

Tesla has recently completely updated its range when it comes to the Model S. The one What Car? has tested is no longer available, though still promised over 200 miles of range

Tesla has recently completely updated its range when it comes to the Model S. The one What Car? has tested is no longer available, though still promised over 200 miles of range

Tesla Model S (75D) 

Official range: 259 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 204 miles 

Full charge cost: £10.09 

Cost per mile: £0.049 

Price new: from £68,900

The version tested here – the Model S 75D – no longer exists in Tesla’s range. 

In fact, the American company has completely restructured its line-up to only offer models with the bigger 100KwH battery.

Three trims are available: Standard Range; Long Range and Performance. 

The mid-spec Long Range offers (for £78,000) the longest driving distances between charges – an incredible 375 miles, according to official measurements.

4. Tesla Model X (100D)

What Car? Real range: 233 miles

Like the Model S, Tesla has updated the trim levels of Model X. What Car? has yet to test the rangiest on offer, which is said to be able to go for 315 miles between charges

Like the Model S, Tesla has updated the trim levels of Model X. What Car? has yet to test the rangiest on offer, which is said to be able to go for 315 miles between charges

Tesla Model X (100D) 

Official range: 351 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 233 miles 

Full charge cost: £13.67 

Cost per mile: £0.059 

Price new: from £73,900

Like the Model S mentioned earlier, What Car? has yet to get their hands on the latest Model X in the three new trim levels of Standard Range, Long Range and Performance. 

Long Range offers up to 315 miles of driving before you need to re-charge the battery.

The 100D tested here was far from the manufacturer’s claim, but still more than capable of a journey from Manchester to London without stopping for electricity. 

3. Kia e-Niro

What Car? Real range: 253 miles

Kia's e-Niro should be right near the top of your shopping list if you're in the market for a family car with electric-only power

Kia’s e-Niro should be right near the top of your shopping list if you’re in the market for a family car with electric-only power

Kia e-Niro 

Official range: 282 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 253 miles 

Full charge cost: £8.74 

Cost per mile: £0.035 

Price new: from £32,995

The Hyundai Kona Electric and this Kia e-Niro share the same battery and motor setup offering a choice of two battery capacities. 

This is the result for the larger 64kWh e-Niro.

There’s impressive range on offer, with 253 miles of driving between charges. 

As far as a reasonably priced electric family car option goes, this should be near the top of your shopping list.

2. Jaguar I-Pace

What Car? Real range: 253 miles

The I-Pace is Jaguar's first attempt at an electric vehicle. It has racked up numerous awards since it was launched last year

The I-Pace is Jaguar’s first attempt at an electric vehicle. It has racked up numerous awards since it was launched last year

Jaguar I-Pace 

Official range: 292 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 253 miles 

Full charge cost: £11.87 

Cost per mile: £0.047 

Price new: from £60,995

Jaguar’s first electric car is a seriously good one. 

It’s classy, packed with performance, comfortable and – most importantly – capable of taking up to five adults on a relatively long journey.

The I-Pace is so good in fact that it’s racked up a raft of awards in the last 12 months, including the inaugural World Car of the Year for 2019.

1. Hyundai Kona Electric

What Car? Real range: 259 miles

Of all the electric cars What Car? has tested, the Hyundai Kona was found to have the longest range of 259 miles

Of all the electric cars What Car? has tested, the Hyundai Kona was found to have the longest range of 259 miles

Hyundai Kona Electric 

Official range: 279 miles 

What Car? Real Range: 259 miles 

Full charge cost: £5.27 

Cost per mile: £0.033 

Price new: from £27,250

There are two versions of the Kona Electric – this one being the higher capacity 64kWh example. 

This rangier example is £4,000 more than the reduced mileage 39kWh model, but for it is worth the additional cash for the extended range alone.

The batteries and motor are the same as the Kia e-Niro, which features earlier in our list, though the Kona manages to eke out an extra six miles of range.

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