Top Ten: Electric Family Cars

Get a buzz out of going green, but think that electric cars aren’t ample enough for a family? We look at the current range of EVs to find the positives…

If there’s one thing stopping families choosing an electric car, outside of price considerations, it’s range anxiety – the fear that the car just won’t make it where you want to go before running out of juice. However, with the average journey being well under 30 miles, it’s a mostly unjustified fear. For those that want to push the limits, here’s the ten pure electric family cars that go farthest…

10. Volkswagen e-up!
£19,795 / Range 93 miles

The up! is an excellent little car, and that doesn’t change once Volkswagen swap out the engine for a motor. It’s refined, fun and, thanks to clever packaging, doesn’t lose any space to the battery pack; not that there was much to start with, as this really is a city car. Its biggest weakness is the price, some £7,000 more than a petrol model – you’ll need to cover around 60,000 miles before you’ll start making that money back.

9. Citroen C-Zero / Peugeot iOn
£11,995 / Range 93 miles

They might look like an egg on wheels, but the very tall and very narrow twins from Citroen and Peugeot make for an excellent car around the city. However, it’s a strict four-seater, the boot is tiny and the interior is a tad low-rent. Mitsubishi has joined the party too, making an identical i-MiEV, but that’s more than double the price of the French cars.

8. Ford Focus Electric
£26,145 / Range 100 miles

Almost indistinguishable from a ‘normal’ Focus, you’ll join a very exclusive bunch of around 30 buyers a year if you pick Ford’s first electric vehicle. It’s also the same on the inside, with nothing to remind you that you’re in something special beyond a lack of engine noise. The extra weight of the batteries means it’s not as sharp and sporty as the standard car though, and the boot is tiny thanks to the batteries sucking up the space.

7. Volkswagen e-Golf
£26,325 / Range 118 miles

It’s a bit like a Golf. Actually it’s remarkably like a a Golf as it still seats five, has split/fold rear seats and a boot that’s still a useful size. It also rides better than some other EVs and remains more refined at higher speeds. It’s very nearly the very best electric car on sale, we just wish it could go a bit longer on a charge.

6. BMW i3
£25,980 / Range 118 miles

It’s a BMW, so the i3 will sell well regardless of what it’s like. Fortunately it’s actually very good. With a style all of its own, the Fiesta-sized i3 combines carbon fibre construction with bamboo interiors and ‘suicide’ doors that swing out backwards. There’s simply nothing like it on the road. It’s not all show though, as it drives well enough despite its skinny tyres. Quicker to 62mph than most family cars, it’s certainly sprightly, but the ride is a tad firm and those skinny tyres means it’s no corner-hugging sports car.

5. Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
£27,275 / Range 124 miles

Sharing a motor with the darling of the EV world, the Tesla Model S, the B-Class offers a balance between economy and performance. The optional ‘Collision Prevent Assist Plus’ system adds radar-assisted regenerative braking that reads the road ahead and plans energy use. Clever stuff, unlike the choice of charging unit – the 400v unit can be fitted at home, but they’re few and far between out on the UK roads.

4. Kia Soul EV
£24,995 / Range 132 miles

The Soul EV forges a uniquely stylish path towards green motoring. Upright and boxy, yet funky with it, the Soul EV also incorporates some new technologies to make the car as environmentally friendly as possible, such as bio-materials inside and a super-efficient heater system. It does all this while remaining as practical and inviting as the normal Soul.

3. Renault Zoe
£13,445 plus battery lease / Range 149 miles

A proper supermini that happens to be electric, the Zoe combines stylish looks and a practical interior with generous equipment levels and, by electric car standards, a low price. The ride is a little on the firm side, but you can forgive it that as the rest of the car makes up for it. The battery lease might seem expensive at around £70 per month, but a super-low mileage option at just £45 per month might just be enough for you.

2. Nissan Leaf 30kWh
£24,490 / Range 155 miles

The first mainstream electric car, the Leaf is beginning to show its age now, especially on the inside. However, a recent upgrade to the battery pack has extended both its life and its range, allowing you to reach a theoretical 155 miles. If that’s more than you need, knock £1,600 off and you can take the old 124-mile battery pack installed instead. Lease the battery for £70 a month and Nissan will knock another £5,000 off, bringing the starting price for a Leaf down to £15,790.

1. Tesla Model S 85D
£67,200 / Range 330 miles

Tesla has rewritten the rulebook regarding electric cars, eschewing the small hatchback style and coming up with a luxury car as a big as a BMW 7 Series. You’d think that would impact range, but Tesla pack enough batteries in the £51,900 ‘70’ spec to get you more than 250 miles. Spend some more cash on this 85D model and range rises to an almighty 330 miles. It doesn’t drive like you might expect an eco-friendly car to drive either, with enough power to embarrass a Porsche driver. Get to corners and the weight makes it feel a little numb, but never lairy. Keep it to the straight bits and there’s a seemingly endless wave of power available, at least until the power runs out. When that happens, a network of chargers allows you to get 80% of that charge back in just half an hour, making it a viable car for everyday life. The downside is you pay handsomely for the privilege, but you get a something that really could kick-start the next generation of motoring.

Phil Huff

Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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