The latest figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal there are now three quarters of a million electric vehicles on UK roads. That still means just one car in 50 is an EV, but with one in every five new cars sold now battery-powered, the landscape is changing rapidly.
The shift will surely continue as the clock ticks down to the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. EV buyers can look forward to lower prices, longer driving ranges and more choice, as car manufacturers switch to electric power.
We’ve pulled together a list of the best electric cars you can buy in 2022, with our choices presented in alphabetical order.
Fiat 500 Electric
One of the cheapest EVs is also one of the most charming. The 500 Electric updates the cute-and-cuddly styling of the petrol ‘Cinquecento’ and introduces a more upmarket interior, including the latest safety tech. The roll-top Cabrio is the world’s only four-seat electric convertible.
The basic 24kWh battery offers a range of just 118 miles, so upgrade to the 42kWh version if you can. Its range of 199 miles is far more practical – and it can charge more quickly, too.
We said: ‘In its segment, where it’s up against boutique small EVs like the Mini Electric and Honda e, the Fiat 500 stands up very well indeed. Its blend of style, quality, comfort, range and price are spot-on – better, in fact, than the dated petrol model. Drive one. You’ll like it.’
Ford Mustang Mach-e
The fully electric Mach-e upset the pony car’s traditional fanbase, but take away that baggage – including plenty of rubbish Mustangs from the 1970s and 1980s, let’s not forget – and it’s a deeply impressive machine. Even the trad-Mustang styling cues translate well to an SUV.
Inside, the Mach-e features a huge Tesla-style portrait touchscreen and space for five adults. Full-charged range is up to 379 miles and the rear-wheel drive version isn’t averse to going sideways if provoked by a heavy right foot. Much like an old-school V8 ’Stang, then.
We said: ‘The Mustang coupe has never tried to be as focused as something like a Porsche, and the Mach-E duly follows suit. Instead, as you drive it, you’ll start to warm to its more organic traits, of fine balance, expert chassis setup and faithful, dependable handling. How pleasing to feel such things transfer across from combustion-engined vehicles.’
Hyundai Ioniq 5
The reigning World Car of the Year looks like nothing else on the road – and its lounge-like interior is pretty radical, too. Choose the reclining ‘relaxation’ seat and it’s a restful spot to have a nap while you charge. There’s also no shortage of space; the Ioniq 5 might resemble a hot hatch, but its proportions are more like an SUV.
Buyers can choose between a 58kWh battery with a 240-mile range, or a 73kWh model that will manage 300 miles. Just don’t expect a sporty driving experience; this EV majors on easygoing comfort.
We said: ‘A killer feature in the Ioniq 5’s armoury is the ability to charge at 800 volts. It’s the way forward, until now only possible on high-end electric cars from the likes of Audi and Porsche. It will revolutionise roadside charging with its sheer speed. Unfortunately, a widespread network of suitable chargers is not available quite yet.’
Based on the same hardware as the Ioniq 5, the EV6 offers a sportier attitude. It too has won numerous awards, including European Car of the Year 2022, and is a worthy rival to the default Tesla Model 3. The ‘Kia Charge’ card offers access to numerous public chargers, too – although Tesla’s Supercharger network remains the biggest and best.
You can choose rear-wheel-drive and 226hp, or four-wheel drive and 321hp, with the standard 77kWh battery offering a range of up to 328 miles. A flagship 577hp GT version arrives soon.
We said: ‘The EV6 is certainly stand-out stylish, combining swooping curves with a rakish, almost coupe-like profile that marks it out as a properly bespoke EV. This is a family-sized Kia, bang on target for those looking to go electric for the first time.’
The headline number here is a range of up to 453 miles: the longest of any electric car currently on sale. That is thanks to a huge 107.8kWh battery, backed up by a sleek, very aerodynamic shape (the drag coefficient is just 0.20). If you want to cross continents in near-silent electric comfort, look no further.
This EV alternative to the S-Class also comes packed with technology, including the optional ‘Hyperscreen’ full-width digital dashboard. The gadgets are fun, but the EQS is best experienced from the back seat.
We said: ‘Even on huge 22-inch wheels, the air-sprung EQS rides like a true limousine. It glides over potholes and smothers speed humps, the sense of serenity enhanced by noise-cancelling tech. Body control is good and traction feels immense, but don’t expect the EQS to steer or handle like a Porsche Taycan. This is a digital car, not an analogue one, and that’s reflected in a rather remote driving experience.’
The Polestar 2 sprinkles some Scandinavian magic dust over the electric car segment. It’s a sophisticated, technologically advanced and minimalist rival to the Tesla Model 3. The Scandi-noir drama to the Hollywood blockbuster.
The headlines are impressive: 78kWh battery, two 150kW electric motors, 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and up to 292 miles of electric range. The Model 3 Performance aces the Polestar 2 on paper, but the Swede offers more feelgood factor. Look beyond the acceleration and range figures and you’ll find a car that’s more rewarding to drive.
We said: ‘So, Silicon Valley trumps Sweden for performance, range and ease of use, but Polestar comes top for design, dynamics and overall desirability. There’s no clear winner here. The good news is both are very credible cars that bode well for our (mostly) electric future. Now the charging network just needs to catch up.’
The Taycan is now Porsche’s best-selling car in the UK. Consider that prices start from around £75,000 – stretching to north of £140,000 – and that’s an impressive feat. The addition of (road-focused) Sport Turismo and (SUV-style) Cross Turismo estate versions has only broadened its appeal.
Apart from a handful of restomods and hypercars, this is also the closest we’ve got to an electric sports car. Despite having four seats, a big boot and a hefty 2.3-tonne kerb weight, the Taycan still drives like a Porsche. That may be its greatest achievement.
We said: ‘Switch into Sport+ mode and the whole car tenses, three-chamber air suspension and a low centre of gravity banishing even a hint of body-roll. Its steering is superb and the carbide-coated brakes feel mighty. And while I initially missed the hard-rock howl of a Porsche flat-six, I soon grew to like its subtle electro soundtrack.’
Skoda Enyaq iV
Arguably the most sensible electric car you can buy, the Enyaq iV is near-flawless family transport. Better value and better executed than its sister Volkswagen ID.4, it is practical and painless to live with. There’s a choice of 58kWh or 77kWh batteries, the latter offering up to 330 miles of range.
A flat floor means plenty of space for passengers, while the boot holds a massive 1,710 litres with all the seats folded flat. Skoda’s neat ‘Simply Clever’ touches, such as the umbrella hidden in the driver’s door, make life easier, too.
We said: ‘The interior of the Enyaq has a sleek, minimalist design. Many functions are accessed via the 13-inch central touchscreen, but it’s cleanly presented and generally easy to use. Thankfully, the glitchy, touch-sensitive controls of the ID.4 are nowhere to be seen.’
Tesla Model 3
The Model 3 is approaching middle-age now, but it shows no signs of slowing down. It isn’t just Britain’s best-selling EV – it has topped the overall car sales chart several times as well. It boasts outrageous performance and clever tech, plus the USP of the extensive Supercharger network. If you can’t charge your EV at home, it’s the obvious choice.
We do have a few gripes, including Tesla’s sub-par build quality and the Model 3’s rather aloof dynamics. You’d be foolish to rule it out, though.
We said: ‘Acceleration is so rapid it squelches your internal organs and scrambles your synapses. You go from zero to warp factor 10 almost instantly, and with a lack of noise that’s entirely alien. No wonder Elon Musk was drawn to space travel.’
The Vauxhall Corsa-e is an electric car for the masses, with no frills and no major compromises. You’d struggle to tell it apart from a petrol-powered Corsa – until it hums past almost silently – and that’s partly the point.
It costs around £28,500, and while that isn’t cheap, it puts the Corsa-e within the reach of many people buying on monthly finance. The electric range is a practical 222 miles, and because SE Nav Premium is the entry-level trim, you get a long list of toys for your money.
We said: ‘The Vauxhall Corsa-e intentionally isn’t an experience as exciting as a Honda e. Its target customers told the firm they crave normality. They want an electric car, but not the fuss and standout fanfare that comes with it. For the vast majority of everyday car buyers who don’t want people to look at them, the Corsa-e is the trend-setting electric car they’ll secretly crave.’
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Spin-off brand Polestar has already embraced electric cars; now Volvo has launched its first EV. The XC40 compact SUV is a solid place to start, with its chunky styling, intuitive tech and excellent safety credentials. The small matter of 408hp only adds to its appeal.
Hang on, what? Yes, with a 78kWh battery and four-wheel drive, the XC40 Recharge will blast to 62mph in 4.9 seconds. Show a little more restraint and you could achieve 256 miles on a full charge, too. We’ve borrowed one for six months and have been very impressed so far.
We said: ‘I’m running a Volvo XC40 Recharge because I know it’s a great car. Volvo’s premium small SUV is a favourite with UK car buyers, and it’s easy to see why. It looks good, has a practical and premium interior, and is upmarket to drive.’
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research