Just a few years ago, it would have been simple enough to write an article listing every electric car available. There would be a couple of Teslas, the Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe and the Jaguar I-Pace. But times change, and in the case of electric cars (EVs) a century-old industry can be transformed in the blink of an eye.
In 2023 there are now numerous electric offerings from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Polestar and Volvo, plus others from Ford, Porsche, Fiat, Mini, Lexus, Kia, Hyundai and Genesis.
Today’s market includes small city EVs like the Mini Electric and Honda E, all manner of SUVs, a budget estate in the form of the MG5, battery-powered sports cars like the Porsche Taycan, 2,000-horsepower hypercars like the Rimac Nevera, and fashion-forward rides from startups like Genesis and its GV60. Prices run from under £30,000 to over £2m and quoted range estimates span from a little over 100 miles to 400 or more.
With such a broad range of electric options to pick from, there’s also a lot to understand before you make your purchase. Battery size and range are only one part of the EV equation though, as charging speed is equally important. Cars with 400-volt architectures can’t charge as quickly as those running 800 volts. And while your local high-speed charger might advertise itself as 350kW, no EV can currently charge that fast. The limit is around 270kW and most tap out at 150kW.
Once you have your head around battery capacity (some cars have the option of a small or large battery), range and charge speed, it’s time to look at performance – a quicker car generally has less range than a less powerful one – and optional extras, like additional driver assistance systems and upgraded infotainment.
With all that in mind, it’s time to run through our favourite electric cars you can buy right now.
Best electric cars 2023
An EV that does everything? We think the iX M60 is almost there, thanks to its amazing performance, impressive sound system and attractive yet spacious interior. It’s undoubtedly a bit of a beast, with a diverse design and a price tag that is almost twice that of the entry-level iX. But if it’s a luxury electric SUV you’re after, the big BMW is hard to overlook.
The tech-fest interior features a pair of large displays on the dashboard, a spectacular Bowers & Wilkins sound system with diamond tweets and no fewer than 30 speakers, a crystal iDrive controller surrounded by illuminated touch controls, and acres of soft leather.
A massive 116 kWh battery pack means almost 350 miles of quoted range, while 195 kW charging means filling from 10% to 80% can take as little as 35 minutes.
Our editor Mat Gallagher said in the BMW iX M60 review: “I spent a week behind the wheel of the iX M60 with a combination of long and short trips before they had to pry the steering wheel out of my hands. This is, without a doubt, one of the best electric vehicles on the market right now. It combines the utility of an SUV with the power of a sports car and the luxury of a flagship saloon. If you want an electric car that does everything to the max, this could be for you.”
All you really need to know about the Taycan is that it feels like a Porsche. It being fully-electric is a fact that quickly shifts into the background the moment you start driving. From the 911-esque seating position, to the slim-rimmed and perfectly-weighted suede steering wheel, this is a proper Porsche.
Goes like one too, thanks to between 429 and 564 horsepower, depending on which battery you specify and whether the Overboost mode is deployed. The Taycan 4S dispatches 60 mph in as little as 3.8 seconds, yet is quiet, smooth and perfectly civilised when you have big miles to cover.
The cabin is packed with digital displays – up to five if you tick a couple of options boxes – but is still recognisably Porsche, thanks to the driver-focused instrument panel and low, sporty driving position. Instead of fake engine sounds Porsche has created an all-new (optional) soundscape for the electric Taycan, which is something we quite like. Call us children all you like, but it makes driving the Taycan feel like you’re piloting a spaceship.
The Taycan’s range could be better, at only a little over 200 miles with the standard battery, and Porsche’s driver assistance systems aren’t a match for rivals like Ford and Tesla.
The Polestar 2 is a fantastic electric all-rounder – and even more so given this is only Polestar’s second car, and its first EV. Based on the same platform as the Volvo XC40 recharge, the Polestar 2 offers a range of over 300 miles and a 0-60 mph time of as little as 4.0 seconds.
Then there’s the Performance Pack, with its manually adjustable, 20-stop Ohlins dampers, and (actually rather tasteful) gold detailing on the brake callipers and seatbelts. Inside, the interior benefits from Android Automotive, which brings native support for Google Maps, Spotify, the Google Play store and Google Assistant, which you can use to set the navigation, play music, adjust the climate control, and even control your smart home devices while out on the road.
In the Polestar 2 review, T3 editor-in-chief Mat Gallagher said: “The Polestar 2 is an excellent car, not least thanks to the power of the Android Automotive system. What is nice about this car is that, while it has elements of future technology, it still behaves in the main, like a regular car. The look and feel of the Polestar 2 are premium for its price point. You feel special driving it – not least because of all the attention it gets.”
If you thought the Mercedes EQS was a car packed full of tech, then you ain't seen nothing yet – because the BMW i7 is even more impressive. The looks might not be very everyone, but step inside a fully-loaded i7 and you're transported into a world where rear-seat passengers are shuttled around in mobile cinemas.
The i7 has a massive 31.3-inch display suspended from the ceiling, ready for movies, TV shows or whatever else you fancy. The rear seats recline like those in the business class cabin of a transatlantic flight, and in the doors you'll find touchscreens for controlling everything from the music and lighting to the window blinds, air conditioning and massage seats. You can even fold the front passenger seat down (with the tap of a screen, of course) for more legroom.
But this isn't just a car to enjoy from the back. Step into the driver's seat and you'll find the electric BMW i7 is surprisingly fun and engaging to drive. There's also level three autonomy for hands-free driving (where legal) and a pair of large digital displays show BMW's latest infotainment system.
Range is a claimed 388 miles (WLTP) and with 544 horsepower on tap the i7 is no slouch, hitting 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. A maximum charging rate of 195 kW means the battery can be topped up quickly too.
In the BMW i7 first drive, Mat Gallagher said, "What I really like about the i7 is that it really is a driver’s car, yet in the back, it’s the ultimate in luxury. It’s the kind of car you could show up to a red carpet event in and then take on a country drive at the weekend."
Ford sure raised some eyebrows when it gave the Mustang name to its first all-electric car back in 2019. But now the dust has settled and the Mach-E has bedded in nicely with the rest of the Ford range, we’re big fans of the mid-size SUV – and especially the GT model, which combines ferocious EV performance with a sense of practicality the Blue Oval is famous for.
We were especially impressed by the Mach-E’s semi-autonomous driving system, called BlueCruise, which takes the stress out of longer highway journeys. With 480 horsepower under your right foot and a 0-62 mph time of 4.4 seconds – about the same as an entry-level Porsche 911 – the Mach-E GT is properly quick.
If you want a more civilised EV, the regular Mach-E still shines very brightly indeed and has a range of slightly over 300 miles. The Ford also benefits from a roomy cabin, an intuitive infotainment system accessed via a huge, 15.5-inch touchscreen, and a spacious frunk that is waterproof and drainable.
Mach-E drivers can also now take advantage of BlueCruise for hands-off, eyes-on driving on UK motorways, with a free 90-day trial on 2023 models. The full subscription cost is then £17.99 a month.
You could say the EQS is simply an electric version of the Mercedes S-Class, the car that for decades has been a byword for the latest in vehicle technology and fine-riding luxury. But it's actually quite a bit more than that, because the EQS is an all-new car.
A technological showcase, the EQS is the first Mercedes to be powered by a new generation of battery with significantly higher energy density and improved battery management. The result is a massive range of 453 miles (WLTP). Add this to 200 kW fast changing and you have a car that eradicates range anxiety, then fills its battery by 185 miles in as little as 15 minutes.
The EQS also benefits from a smart navigation system that takes charger speed into account, so it might serves up a route that's a few miles longer but which takes you via a faster charger than would be available on the shorter journey. Clever stuff.
Other headline tech is found in the (optional) Hyperscreen, which incorporates three displays into a huge single dashboard panel, and a fully-fledged head-up display. There's also Drive Pilot, Mercedes' semi-autonomous driving system that can take over the driving in motorway traffic at up to 40 mph.
In his Mercedes EQS review, Spencer Hart said, "Driving the Mercedes EQS was a genuinely interesting glimpse into the future of motoring, not only did the semi-autonomous systems make driving long journeys effortless, the long-range and clever mapping essentially killed range anxiety."
A reimagining of the classic Volkswagen Microbus, the ID. Buzz oozes with retro charm on the outside, while packing modern, all-electric tech on the inside. It has the same 77 kWh battery pack as other members of the VW ID family and has a quoted range of around 250 miles.
More minivan than family car, the ID. Buzz has loads of interior space – but there’s only seating for five and not seven – and feels like a van to drive, complete with upright driving position. That said, it’s pretty quick for a van and has all of the creature comforts car drivers would expect, including CarPlay and Android Auto on a 10-inch touchscreen display, automated parking and adaptive cruise control.
We’d love to head out on a long road trip in the ID. Buzz, but that 77 kWh battery is the same as VW uses in the much smaller ID.3, so the van’s range takes a bit of a hit. The quoted 250 miles is probably more like 180 miles in the real world, but thankfully a decent 170 kW charge rate means a refill takes about 30 minutes.
If you need a five-seat electric car with loads of storage space – or you simply can’t resist its retro charm – the VW ID. Buzz could be for you.
Once the butt of all jokes, today’s Volkswagen-owned Skoda produces some of the best – and best-value – cars on the market. That includes its first all-electric offering, the Enyaq. The car featured here is the hottest version of Enyaq, called the Coupe iV vRS. The sloping roofline gives this SUV coupe a sportier look than its more practical sibling, while the vRS badge means this is the quick one, with almost 300 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds.
This performance is punctuated by leather sports seats, 20-inch alloys with aero inserts and a retina-searing colour option called Hyper Green. Tech features include support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a reasonably fast maximum charge rate of 135 kW. This means the 82 kWh battery can be filled from near-empty to 80% in about 36 minutes.
All that said, we recommend buyers save about £10,000 and go for the lesser, circa-£43,000 Enyaq iV 80 instead. In the Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV vRS first drive, T3 editor-in-chief Mat Gallagher said: “This is the best-looking car Skoda has produced to date. However, it is certainly a niche model in the scheme of things. For most buyers, the standard SUV-style Enyaq iV 80 is a more sensible choice, as it’s a little more spacious in the boot and around £10k cheaper.”
The iX1 is BMW’s smallest electric SUV. Based on the internally-combusted X1, we think the iX1 represents competitive pricing, has stylish looks, and is great to drive. Priced from just over £50,000, the iX1 is available in xLine and M Sport trim levels, with the latter adding more power and extra technology as standard.
The car is powered by a 64.7 kWh battery pack that drives a pair of motors for all-wheel-drive, a power output of 308 hp and a spritely 0-62 mph time of 5.6 seconds. Range is a claimed 259 miles for the M Sport and 272 miles for the slightly less powerful iLine.
Interior tech includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, BMW’s iDrive OS8 infotainment system and optional augmented route guidance integrated with the head-up display – although the latter is part of the £1,205 Technology Pack and only works with the car’s own navigation system, not Google Maps or Waze on the driver’s phone.
In our BMW iX1 review, our editor said: “...the iX1 is great fun to drive. For an SUV it feels quite compact, which is helped by a relatively low dash and driving position. It’s extremely nippy around town and when you put it into sport mode, it really flies. It’s not the crazy power you get from the BMW iX M60 but it’s fast enough to leave petrol models standing.”
The Mercedes EQE SUV manages to bring some extra style to the standard SUV. The aerodynamic design looks closer to a saloon model from the outside, while inside you appreciate the extra space it brings – including 520 litres in the boot. The car comes in two power levels, the 350 and the 500, and it's the 500 that we'd recommend here, as you can really feel the extra poke.
The dual motors deliver up to 402hp and a 4.9-second 0-62mph here, but the clever bit is that they can decouple the motor from the front axle when four-wheel drive is not needed to make that power more efficient. There's also a heat pump to conserve energy during the winter. All this helps to provide what is an impressive 324 miles or 334 miles on the 350.
Depending on the trim level, inside you get all the toys, with the MBUX Hyperscreen as standard on Premium Plus and Business Class models. There's also the option of the incredible Burmester 3D surround sound system, which delivers Dolby Atmos-enabled sound that will blow you away.
In our Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV first drive, our editor said: "It’s a more family-friendly version, particularly for those with a couple of kids in tow. While those who really love to drive or be driven will be better served by the saloon model, the SUV provides an all-purpose solution."