It’s hard to believe that Renault’s electric cars have been around for more than 15 years, including the original Zoe City Car concept. It has undergone quite a few changes over the years and still manages to keep up with the changing and growing Electric Vehicle market.
Zoe proves that you don’t have to spend Tesla money or buy a Reeva G-Wiz to live an affordable Electric Vehicle life. It’s powered by a 22kWh lithium-ion battery, which offers a relatively mediocre 130 miles of range by NEDC’s optimistic standards. It was later updated to a 41kWh package in 2016, with an even more impressive 250 miles of range. Now on sale for less than £15,000, these are arguably the ideal place to go if you’re looking for a cheap but reliable electric car.
For just £14,200, you can buy this 41kWh Zoe Dynamic Nav, which comes with kit like a 7.0-inch touchscreen, sat-nav and air conditioning (note how you use it). Keep in mind this is a battery rental vehicle, which means you’ll have to pay a monthly fee (from £49 per month) to use it, but overall it’s cheaper than buying the battery outright. Again, the Nissan Leaf price is comparable to the Zoe, but you’re looking for an older model with less range. For affordable Electric Vehicle ownership, nothing beats Zoe.
Buy the best used electric cars now. Up to £20,000 – VW e-Golf
When the Volkswagen ID.3 hit the market a few years ago, it finally replaced the electric Golf, and the e-Golf disappeared from the history books. Let’s face it, the ID.3 didn’t go well due to a string of software glitches – but that means the very good Mk7 e-Golf is an enticing pre-owned option.
For starters, the e-Golf offers all the goodness of an electric vehicle, but in a familiar package—you know, one that doesn’t scream eco-warrior. It’s powered by a front engine that sends 144 horsepower to the front wheels. While it’s not quite as quick, with a claimed 0-100 kilometres per hour time of 9.6 seconds, the torquey nature of the electric motor means the e-Golf feels a lot more punchy than the numbers suggest. Combine that with the premium build quality of the old Mk7 and you have a practical electric car for the price of a used Golf.
While the launch car only managed 120 miles under NEDC, the car we have here is one of the later updated models. Range jumps to 186 miles thanks to a larger 35.8kWh battery, and there are even extras like the Discover Pro navigation system. All for £19,750. The Hyundai Ioniq (not the 5-Series) and the current-generation Nissan Leaf are also within our budget, but neither can match the “premium” or rock-solid feel behind the wheel of the e-Golf.
Buy the best used electric cars now. Up to £25,000 – BMW i3S
Launched as a radical concept before hitting showrooms, but largely unchanged, the car has something special about it. Take the BMW i3 for example. When it first appeared in 2013, it looked like nothing else, and to this day, it’s hard to walk by without looking. Even on those ultra-thin, eco-friendly tires, driving matters (as long as you stick to city streets) — proving that not all EVs are boring, uninteresting devices.
i3 comes in many flavours. Early cars were available in all-electric and range extender forms, the latter with a small petrol engine that could recharge the battery on the go. But we’re only interested in the electric cars on this list, and with a generous £25,000 to play with, we can pick up a warm-up i3S. Not only do these bump power slightly to 184 horsepower, but the suspension has been revised for a stiffer ride, with the 0-62 time dropping to 6.9 seconds. If you think about it, the i3S is arguably the first electric hatchback.
While Cupra Born has caught up in this regard, this i3S won’t come anywhere near £24,200. It comes with a 33.3 kilowatt hour mid-size battery, good for 174 miles of NEDC range. You can also check the charging progress at home using the My BMW app. Or, you know, see if things go well…
Buy the best used electric cars now. Up to £30,000 – Mini Electric
Granted, putting some S badges on the Mini Electric looked a bit like a marketing gimmick when it was first announced, but while it’s a bit heavier than the non-electric three-door (like most EVs), it’s about getting as close as possible to experiencing the sporty nature of the Cooper S without consuming extremely expensive dinosaur juice.
Steering is great, and the battery is low, and it only feels heavy when you actually try it. With that in mind, the Mini Electric packs 181 horsepower, making it a hit on a morning commute. Range is 145 miles thanks to a 28.9-kilowatt hour battery that can charge to 80 percent in 36 minutes if you can find a fast charger.
Even the cheaper Mini Electrics are full of kits. We found a £29,980 Level 2 model with 8.8-inch sat-nav, digital cockpit, rear camera and some driver assistance features like traffic sign recognition. The Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e are also within our budget, and while they’re good cars in their own right, they won’t be as fun as the beefy Mini Electric – nor will they be as luxurious as a luxury sedan.
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