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Best electric cars 2021

Which electric cars offer the best range, the brightest tech, and the smoothest drive? Wonder no more. Here's some of the best electric cars available in 2021.

Electric cars are becoming more mainstream, with prices coming down and mileage range going up, making them a realistic proposition for more and more people. These are our favourites.

Hybrid or electric?

If you do a mixture of short and long journeys, a hybrid - either self-charging like Toyota and Lexus sell, or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) like everyone else sells - will probably suit you better than a pure electric car (EV).
That’s because the UK doesn’t yet have a comprehensive public charging network, so you have the back-up of a petrol or diesel engine to get you to your destination. Just make sure, however, that you do charge and use the battery element wherever possible, otherwise you’re lugging round a heavy electric power source for nothing, which will use more fuel. Most hybrids are good for up to 30 miles on electric power alone. If, however, you’re nearly all about daily mileages that are 150 miles or less (big, expensive EVs have ranges of up to 350 miles these days, and that’s improving all the time), then go electric, get a domestic wallbox fitted at home, charge overnight and you’re good to go each day. Your running costs will be about half that of running a petrol or diesel engine, because electricity is cheaper and EVs don’t need so much servicing. That will go some way to offsetting the more expensive list price of an electric car. Learn more about electric cars, hybrids and other alternative fuel types.

Best electric cars of 2021

Audi E-tron GT
Max range: 298
A four-seat, electric grand tourer from Audi. Take the RS badged-version for super acceleration, or this version for a price tag that doesn’t make your eyes water quite so much. Slick looks, smooth handling, and room for four adults and their luggage, too. Read our Audi E-Tron GT review Find a new or used Audi E-Tron GT on Free Trader UK
Audi E-Tron
Max range: 252 miles
The big one. A large, wide family SUV that feels sized between a Q7 and Q5. That may not be best for nervous parkers (although it’s packed with parking sensors and cameras), but it gives passengers loads of space in a very plush interior. The A-Tron includes lots of great infotainment features, two large flat glass touchscreens and whizzbang graphics. Also, the electric cap slides back to reveal the port when you push a button which is kind of cool. Small things. Read our Audi E-Tron review Find a used or new Audi E-Tron on Free Trader UK
Fiat 500e
Max range: 199
“ An affordable package brimming with charisma” is how we described this stylish Italian offering in our review. A classy example of how to update a retro classic without losing any of the charm or style. Great recycled optional materials inside and a far better range than many similarly sized electric cars. Read our Fiat 500e review Find a new or used Fiat 500e on Free Trader UK
Honda E
Max range: 105
Smart move by Honda, to go retro in its styling when everyone else went futuristic for their electric vehicles. The result is a small urban car that everyone has fallen in love with before they’ve set foot inside it. As it’s Honda, you know it’ll have state-of-the-art, reliable engineering. Just don’t expect long-distance range: this is an electric car for daily urban use. Read our Honda E review Read about living with a Honda E Find a new or used Honda E on Free Trader UK
Kia e-Niro
Max range: 282
Nearly 300 miles of range from this relatively affordable family crossover. Hyundai’s Kona EV is this car’s sibling: both offer great reliability and a good ownership experience, with a helpful dealer network. We think the e-Niro looks better, but you be the judge. Read our Kia Niro review Find a used or new Kia Niro on Free Trader UK
Mazda MX-30
Max range: 124
A stylish alternative to the Mini Electric or Honda E, the Mazda MX-30 has a small battery that limits range but helps keep costs down and means it’s quick to charge. As such it’s ideal for urbanites for whom style and looking good matter more than being able to cover hundreds of motorway miles. A version with an onboard charger – also known as a range-extender hybrid – is due to follow if you do want to go further but, as it stands, the MX-30 is already a distinctive and attractive addition to the EV world. Read our Mazda MX-30 review Buy a new or used Mazda MX-30 on Free Trader UK
Mercedes EQC
Max range: 259
A medium family SUV from Mercedes. Decent range, with Mercedes’ familiar, upmarket interior. The “maximum power from zero revs” feature of electric cars, which gives you all the acceleration from a standing start, comes in handy for shifting this car away from the lights rapidly. Smart domestic wall charger, too. Read our Mercedes EQC review Find a used or new Mercedes EQC on Free Trader UK
Max range: 231
It surprised us, too, to find ourselves typing this one in, but by George, take it for a test drive. A fantastic small family SUV, with a great interior, smart styling (fab pastel blue paintwork), decent range and good pricing compared with the competition. It feels like a quality offering on the move, with a smooth ride and little wind and tyre noise. We particularly like the different colour codes for the infotainment system’s various functions. Read our MG ZS EV review Find a used or new MG ZS on Free Trader UK
Mini Electric
Max range: 145 miles
Where Honda went distinctive with its electric car, Mini has purposefully stuck a splash of neon yellow and a different badge on its Mini hatch and left it at that. The result is a comfortingly familiar car, with a premium interior, loads of customisation options, smartly badged and stitched leather, and the electric know-how from parent group BMW. Read our Mini Electric review Watch Rory Reid’s Mini Electric video
Nissan Leaf e+
Max range: 239
The Nissan Leaf has been with us since the dawn of electric cars. It’s been through multiple revisions and is now a refined small electric car with much better looks and much better range. Nissan’s one-pedal feature means you can accelerate and stop without touching the brake, due to the strong regenerative braking, which recoups some of the lost energy back into the battery. We’ve chosen the “e+” because it gives you more than 200 miles’ range. Read our latest Nissan Leaf review Find a used or new Nissan Leaf on Free Trader UK
Peugeot e-208
Max range: 217
A deserved winner of the Erin Baker Award at the Free Trader UK New Car Awards 2021 for its fantastic blend of great looks inside and out, exciting graphics, bold colour choices, good reliability, fair pricing and generous range for such a small car. Read our Peugeot e-208 review Find a new or used Peugeot e-208 on Free Trader UK
Polestar 2
Max range: 292
An electrified, premium performance offshoot from Volvo, Polestar impresses for its individualistic attitude and strong sense of style. The Polestar 2 is the physical embodiment of that and combines stirring performance with great looks inside and out. The Google-powered infotainment system helps you integrate your digital life with the car’s systems and will appeal to the kind of tech-heads who enjoy the forward-looking view of EVs. Read our Polestar 2 review Watch Rory Reid comparing the Polestar 2 against the Tesla 3
Renault Zoe
Max range: 245
It used to be that you had to lease the battery separately from the car, in order to give early adopters peace of mind that if anything went wrong, it wouldn’t be their responsibility. Now, however, it’s all bundled into one price because batteries are better and customers only want to pay one monthly price. This is still a great budget proposition. Read our Renault Zoe review Find a used or new Renault Zoe on Free Trader UK
Tesla Model 3
Max range: 353
Yes it’s been out for a while (in theory, although patient UK customers had to wait a long time to get theirs), but it’s still the one to benchmark. Say what you like about Elon Musk, but he was bang on with the Model 3, because it’s still the mass-market electric car with the best range, best infrastructure of rapid chargers and best interior if you want futuristic design and high-tech software that offers things like “chill mode” and Santa’s sleigh bells as indicators. Read our Tesla Model 3 review Find a used or new Tesla Model 3 on Free Trader UK
Vauxhall Mokka-E
Max range: 201
Up against stiff competition from the Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric and Mazda MX-30, the Mokka-e stands out with strident exterior design and vibrant paint colours. The ride is smooth, and the response from the motors spritely. Its high ride makes it a popular code with small-SUV lovers. Read our Vauxhall Mokka-e review Find a new or used Vauxhall Mokka-e on Free Trader UK
Volkswagen ID.3
Max range: up to 340 miles (depending on model)
Huge horsepower and supercar blitzing performance grab the EV headlines but what most of us really want is an affordable, practical electric car with enough range to get us where we need to go without biting our nails about the range. And that’s exactly what the VW ID.3 delivers, with its range of battery options and power outputs to let you choose the right one for your particular needs. Futuristic without being gimmicky and based on a dedicated electric car platform to free up maximum interior space this is the sensible way to go electric. Read our Volkswagen ID.3 review Watch Rory Reid’s video on the Volkswagen ID.3 Buy a new or used Volkswagen ID.3 on Free Trader UK
Volkswagen ID.4
Max range: 310
Volkswagen describes the ID4 as a small SUV, but it looks quite large and feels spacious inside. We love the chunky styling and buttery smooth, silent acceleration, as well as the futuristic white steering wheel and rocker switch for driving modes. Read our VW ID.4 review Find a new or used VW ID.4 on Free Trader UK
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Max range: 208
When the XC40 came out, it won plaudits from all journalists who drove it, due to the satisfying mixture of luxurious materials inside, exemplary safety features, and great tech on a large tablet, presented in a small SUV. It was missing one thing: an electric option. Here it is. Read our review of the standard Volvo XC40 Find a used or new Volvo XC40 on Free Trader UK

Learn more about electric and hybrid cars

Learn more in our dedicated electric and hybrid cars hub, or follow one of the links below.

What if my electric car runs out of power?

It’s a common fear with electric cars. People worry they’ll be stranded by the side of the road until someone manages to get some electricity to you. It’s called ‘range anxiety’, and you’re not the first person to face it.
All electric cars show you how much distance you can cover with your current battery life, so you can plan your journey accordingly, and avoid running out of power. If you are running a bit low and hadn’t noticed, most electric cars will show you the location of your nearest charge point on the sat nav. Some electric cars also have a ‘low power’ or ‘eco’ mode that will help to preserve energy if you’re cutting it fine on your way to a charging point. And if, by some chance you do still run out of charge, you’ll either need to be towed to the nearest charging point, or some companies now have mobile charging units to get you some power at the roadside.

How much is electric car tax?

Fully electric vehicles are exempt from paying road tax. If you drive, or are considering a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), you’ll pay reduced road tax.
Just keep in mind, if the vehicle has a list price of £40,000 or above, you’ll have to pay an additional premium for the first five years. Learn more about car tax bands.

Do electric cars need servicing?

Electric cars need servicing, but as they tend to have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel vehicles, they’re often cheaper and easier to service and run.
One key difference is the battery will need an occasional health check, just to make sure it’s working properly. Most electric car batteries are covered by a longer warranty of around eight years. Related: top tips on charging your electric car.

What are green number plates?

UK green number plates were available for zero-emission cars in December 2020.
Green number plates are part of a Government initiative to easier identify electric cars. This should make it easier to exclude zero-emissions cars from congestion zone charges, and include electric cars in future policies like zero-emission parking zones, and even zero-emission lanes. Learn more about green number plates and the number plate system.
Find out where you can charge your EV with our electric car charging points map.

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