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How to choose the perfect electric car

Whether you’re a boy racer or a school-run parent, our expert guide will reveal the EV of your dreams

ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.
ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.
Shutterstock / RossHelen
16 June 2022

Buying a new car is tricky enough but for those making the change from petrol to electric, there are a whole new set of considerations and concerns. How far will it go on a charge? Is it better to get a hybrid or jump straight into EV? And what am I looking for in engine performance?

For the last of these questions you need to flip your thinking ‒ while petrol and diesel cars have miles per gallon, EV cars equivalent is kWh/100km and the higher the number, the worse the car’s performance. For anything else you can simply read our guide below.

We’ve collated advice from experts at consumer champion Which? and car review aggregator, to work out the best EV for you ‒ whether you’re a supercar fanatic or a suburban family.

The young professional

Getty Images

Who are they? Living centrally, public transport covers most needs, but they use a car for coasting down Bond Street on weekend shopping and movie excursions, heading out to see friends and family or acting as designated driver.

What’s the need? A difficult combination of economy, style, space for mates, weekend boot space and enough battery to reach the coast and back.

The ambitious choice – the Peugeot e-208 (shown below), with a range of 225 miles on a single charge, decent bass-heavy speakers and nippy acceleration. From £28,225

The on-my-way-to-the-top choice – the BMW i4 stands out in the company car park and should handle most long trips. From £51,905

The Peugeot e-208 does 225 miles on just one charge

/ Peugeot

The family of four

/ Getty Images/Maskot

Who are they? With two children and a family living in leafy London environs of Highgate or Kingston, the car covers the school run, weekly shops, day trips and the odd golfing/fishing/camping trip.

What’s the need? Reliable, durable, economical, plenty of space, excellent safety record, practical interiors but stylish enough to cause a little envy at the school gates.

The steel cage-of-safety choice – the Volvo XC60 Recharge (shown below) is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with an Android operating system. Superb safety record with style, speed and comfort. From £39,130

The ‘take that, neighbours’ choice – the Mercedes’ all-electric SUV the EQC is as comfortable, opulent and tech laden as its petrol-powered equivalent with zero tailpipe emissions. From £65,720

The Volvo XC60 Recharge has a great safety record

/ Volvo

The school-run parent

/ Getty Images/Image Source

Who are they? From Zone 2 to Zone 6, whether dropping and running to avoid no-idling zones or scrunching into the car park in generously endowed school grounds, there’s a lot of chaos with buzzing back and forth, carpooling and playdates that require infinite flexibility.

What’s the need? Plenty of space without hogging the road, lots of stop-start and the ability to cope with rushed mornings when the car wasn’t charged at the weekend.

The happy children option – the Toyota Yaris is a practical hybrid that’s effectively an EV for trips under 30 miles. Small, light and powerful. From £21,080

The crazy kids option – the VW ID Buzz (shown below), with a modern take on the old hippie VW camper van look in a five-seater saloon car. It can do 200 miles on a charge but it’s not cheap. From £50,55

The VW ID Buzz has hippie VW camper-van vibes

/ VW

The gadget flexer

Getty Images/Image Source

Who are they? Car bragging isn’t just for petrol heads, and EVs instant maximum torque and internal tech leave most ICE equivalents way behind. Silent speed is the new revving engine.

What’s the need? Night vision, dash cams, wireless charging pads, haptic vibration systems, pedestrian detection, auto braking, touch screen, Bluetooth, auto-parking, voice recognition, Alexa/Siri, booming stereo… all of this and more.

The Tesla-tech option – The Venn diagram overlap between gadget and Tesla lovers is huge. The Tesla Model 3  (shown below) has a biohazard feature that scrubs incoming air, you can summon it to you and it can park itself. From £42,500

The best-kept secret option – the Polestar 2 kicks into life as you take your seat, boasts Google’s operating system, adaptive cruise control, 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds and does 336 miles on a single charge. From £49,900

Tech lovers can summon the Tesla Model 3 and it can park itself

/ Tesla

The commuter

Miles Willis/Getty Images for Go Ultra Low

Who are they? Suburban drivers spanning the M25 who either head for the city or the park-and-ride every morning while acting as parent taxi or weekend visitor when the work is done.

What’s the need? Big battery and efficient engine that can charge from home and can do 200-300 miles on a single charge so they’re good for a week, and with space to pack in kids, friends or sports kit.

The long-haul choice – the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (shown below), with two battery sizes, front or four-wheel drive, all the cup-holding, wireless-phone-charging, touch-screen-augmented-reality-HUD anyone needs and a 300 mile range on a single charge. From £32,300

The short-haul choice ‒ the Volkswagen ID.3 is basically the EV equivalent of the Golf. If you like the Golf, this is your EV. From £35,83

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has the option for four-wheel drive, in case your commute involves any kind of off-roading

/ Hyundai Ioniq5

The sporty weekender

Getty Images/Maskot

Who are they? City dwellers who love the open country and the open road and head out of town whenever possible, with bikes or trailers firmly attached.

What’s the need? Lots of room and lots of power.

The low-rider option – the Ford Mustang Mach-E (shown below) offers up to 380 miles on a charge, and gets 80 percent charge in 45 minutes on a decent DC charger. From £40,270

The long-puller option – the Tesla Model X comes with towing capacity, hauling up to 2,250kg. Range 333 miles without towing, down to 145 miles with trailer. From £81,990

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is fast to charge and goes the distance

/ James Lipman

The quiet rider

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Who are they? Long-term petrol drivers of an older persuasion who fear change, but aware the Government is about to take their petrol away. They know it makes sense but wish things were simpler.

What’s the need? A car that looks and feels and drives exactly like a petrol car.

Dipping-the-toe option – the Hyundai Tucson mild hybrid handles like a petrol car, has the security of the hybrid engine, all the space you need, and comes with Android and Apple in-car play. From £21,641

Diving-in option – the MG5 EV Estate (shown below) does 200 miles on a single charge, is a practical, functional car without the EV high prices and fussy looks. From £27,243

Practical and functional: the MG5 EV Estate is the EV for people who don’t like EVs

/ MG

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