Autocar's verdict comprise months of testing with huge, cross-class comparison tests
Welcome to Autocar’s guide to the best electric cars on the market.
Every car we’ve chosen stands out for one key attribute, be it driver appeal, value for money, range and much more besides.
Whether you’re looking for the most practical EV or one loaded with enough tech to fill a branch of Currys, we’ve got you covered.
Each car on this list has been selected by a committee of our journalists for its prowess in a specific area. We will explain what makes a good showing in each class and why each EV we’ve picked is deserving of its place.
So without further ado, these are the best electric cars on sale right now.
Cupra Born – best for fun factor
Pros Well set-up chassis with good ride-and-handling balance, rear-drive dynamics, classy interior
Cons Stability control puts a premature stop to slides, poor infotainment, expensive
Autocar has for a couple of years now conducted an annual test of the best-handling, most fun electric cars on sale. Our reigning champion is the Cupra Born, which beat the challenge of cars like the MG 4 XPower and Abarth 500e to impress our judges.
The Born sits at a compelling nexus of size and usability, of weight and power, of real-world range and of price and affordability.
It has enough power to keep you interested but not so much as to seem excessive for the road or to compromise its efficiency in quicker motoring. It has an engaging, balanced, rear-driven chassis and some precision and purpose to its body control, but it doesn’t forget to include four usable seats and a decent boot.
It will cover 220 real-world miles on a charge, which should be enough to get you to and from your favourite road, but it also has the personality and poise to make the trip worthwhile.
There’s a completeness to the Born as a package that makes it the ideal affordable EV for interested drivers to take their first steps into zero-emissions motoring. Perhaps not by chance, it feels more like a Volkswagen Golf GTI for the electric age than anything that Volkswagen itself is making right now.
Read our Cupra Born review
Fisker Ocean – best for range
Pros Huge range relative to cost, comfortable, high-tech interior
Cons Limited dealer network, big battery compromises its ride and handling
Commended Mercedes-Benz EQS, Lucid Air
Aston Martin designer turned car company founder Henrik Fisker takes a no-nonsense view when it comes to EVs and range: for the time being, you can’t really offer too much of it.
That’s why his new mid-sized SUV, the Fisker Ocean, has a nickel-manganese-cobalt drive battery with 106kWh of usable capacity. That’s almost as much as either Mercedes or BMW provides in their flagship EVs, only Fisker is putting it on the market for half of their cost. The Ocean’s WLTP claimed lab test range is as much as 440 miles, making it one of the longest-range electric cars on the market.
We’ve tested the Ocean abroad and found that a 400-mile range is achievable in reality on a mixed test route taking in plenty of motorway. That’s the kind of range that might help to change the way we think about EVs and might also open up ownership for those who can’t charge at home.
Some super-expensive EVs may go slightly further, but nothing offers a better combination of usable range and value for money right now than this.
Read our Fisker Ocean review
Hyundai Ioniq 5 – best for design appeal
Pros Futuristic styling conceals SUV bulk, good passenger space, solid performance
Cons Charging speed slower than expected, average range, compromised ride
Designing really good-looking EVs is difficult. That’s the lesson that many electric cars seem to teach, with their necessarily long wheelbases, short overhangs and high-rising bodies so typically displaced upwards by underfloor battery packs.
So really great-looking EVs demand recognition - particularly when they’re more affordable ones. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has shown us better than any rival that EVs can be desirable and stylish, and still affordable. Its maker reached for some retro design cool with its look, referencing the Giugiaro-designed 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupé concept, among other inspirations.
The result is undeniably distinctive and desirable on the road and manages to solve the proportion-related design problems that many EVs face.
The Ioniq 5 is a cool family cat that just happens to be electric - and Hyundai has never before built something that you can define in anything like the same terms.
Read our Hyundai Ioniq 5 review
Mercedes-Benz EQS – best for on-board technology
Pros Hyperscreen is huge, massive 441-mile range, great overtaking ability
Cons Questionable interior quality, claustrophobic-feeling cabin, Hyperscreen isn’t for everyone
Commended Polestar 2, Fisker Ocean
It was Tesla that really blew the lid off in-car digital technology when it introduced the Model S saloon, but it’s now the world’s oldest car maker that has taken the game on, in a bid to prove that it can better anything that can be made in Silicon Valley.
When the Mercedes-Benz EQS arrived in 2021, it blooded the Hyperscreen: a wide expanse of touchscreen digital real estate that seemed to occupy the entirety of the dashboard.
In reality, it doesn’t quite do that, but it does bring together a sizeable digital instrument console with a large head-up display, a huge 17.7in infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3in touchscreen in front of the passenger. The combined effect is pretty dizzying, assuming that you like lots of touchscreen technology in cars (here at Autocar, the jury is still split on that one).
Mercedes isn’t just throwing massive screens at its cars, though: its latest, third-generation MBUX infotainment software is much easier to navigate than its predecessors were and evidences a user-friendliness that other brands aren’t equalling, making it one of the finest luxury electric cars for sale.
Read our Mercedes EQS review
Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV – best for ride comfort
Pros Remarkable comfort, impressive refinement
Cons Interior isn’t up to the standard expected of a six-figure luxury SUV, brakes don’t provide much confidence
Commended BMW i7, Hyundai Ioniq 5
On-board comfort was a character facet of modern cars overlooked for much of the late 20th century, but it's now making something of a resurgence with EVs.
A gentle, absorptive, quiet ride is a dynamic quality that you can enjoy on every journey, and while we just somehow expect EVs to have one because of their wider refinement advantages, we don’t always get it.
So if you want to prioritise a comfortable ride, the Mercedes EQS SUV is the big EV to go for. The high-rise seven-seater rides with almost no perceptible road noise at all and makes lumps and bumps seem to just disappear under its wheels. As far as comfort is concerned, it simply doesn't get much better than this.
For a great-riding EV of a different shape or price point, meanwhile, look to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or the excellent BMW i7 limousine.
Read our Mercedes EQS SUV review
MG 4 EV – best for value
Pros Priced on a par with the Volkswagen Golf, better to drive than bargain billing suggests, practical
Cons Interior materials don’t feel very resilient, driver assistance systems frustrate
If you could ask the average Brit on the street why they don’t already own an electric car, what response would you get? “Because they cost too much and they don’t go far enough between charges.” Well, think again, Joe.
Built in Ningde, China, by SAIC and presented to UK buyers wrapped in the comfort blanket of a brand they know well, the MG 4 offers a choice of 51kWh, 64kWh and 77kWh battery packs. The smallest of those can be had for a whisker under £27,000 (which now only just about buys the cheapest combustion-engined Volkswagen Golf) and is rated for 218 miles between charges. The biggest, meanwhile, is rated for 323 miles yet still costs less than the cheapest plug-in hybrid Vauxhall Astra.
Value isn’t the only thing the 4 has on its side. It also has a pleasingly well-balanced, rear-driven chassis and driving dynamics that feel much more finely honed than you’d expect.
A roomy four-seat cabin completes a package that only the foolish wouldn’t make time to at least sample.
Read our MG 4 review
Porsche Taycan – best for charging speed, best for handling appeal
Pros Effortless agility regardless of version, wide selection of bodystyles, big range and quick charging
Cons Expensive, second-row seating is tight
Commended for handling appeal Kia EV6, Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor
Porsche really stole a march on the rest of the luxury car industry when it introduced the Taycan electric saloon. The car has been with us since 2019 - half a model life cycle in industry terms - and yet it’s still a truly standout prospect for both its Porsche-brand handling appeal and driver engagement and for its DC rapid-charging speed.
The Taycan isn’t the lightest EV of its kind, its 92kWh lithium ion drive battery weighing some 650kg all on its own. But Porsche innovated by effectively cutting holes out of the underfloor battery level to enable the driver to sit lower in the car and to therefore lower the whole profile of the vehicle – and so, by delivering a truly low, sporting-feeling driving position and a low centre of gravity, the car’s tactile, enticing handling gets off to a perfect start.
We would pick a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive model for the purest chassis balance, but between saloons, Sport Turismo shooting brakes, Cross Turismo pseudo-off-roaders and so many hot GTS and Turbo models, there’s an awful lot of choice besides.
Meanwhile, Porsche’s habitual preference for effective cooling delivered 800V charging performance, which the rest of the industry is still catching up with today.
The Taycan is sitting pretty at the top of our real-world rapid-charging performance test chart, with honourable mentions to both the Audi E-tron GT and Hyundai Ioniq 6.
Read our Porsche Taycan review
Rolls-Royce Spectre – best for luxury
Pros Superlative refinement, wafty ride
Cons Sub-250-mile range in the real world, low-speed ride isn’t perfect
Commended BMW i7, Mercedes-Benz EQS
Charles Rolls noted the potential of electric motors for adoption in luxury cars right at the beginning of the 20th century, but it took the car company he co-founded some 120 years to catch up with his embryonic vision.
Now that it has, though, and the super-luxury EV class has its first ranking member, there can be no debate about which electric car comes first for luxury appeal.
The Rolls-Royce Spectre has wowed us in South Africa and North America. We've particularly praised its ride isolation and cushioned body control, even on its huge (23in) alloy wheels, but also the uncommon smoothness of its ‘one-pedal’ driving; its supreme, cocooning quietness; and its unexpectedly rewarding steering and handling.
The BMW i7 and Mercedes EQS set a pretty high bar themselves for low noise levels and lavish on-board feel, but for the best of the best where luxury is concerned and the ultimate sense of occasion, Goodwood’s experts still set themselves apart.
Read our Rolls-Royce Spectre review
Tesla Model S Plaid – best for performance
Pros Unbelievable straight-line pace, impressive efficiency
Cons Left-hand-drive only, lacks handling finesse
Tesla’s name had to crop up on this list somewhere - but that it’s doing so here tells you a great deal about how few prisoners company boss Elon Musk is willing to take in his pursuit of a world-beating reputation for his firm.
In terms of standing-start acceleration, the Tesla Model S Plaid took our timing gear quicker than it had ever been before when we road tested it in August 2023.
With fully 1020bhp and three electric motors doing its grunt work, it needed just 2.4sec to hit 60mph from rest, 4.6sec to hit 100mph and 9.6sec for a standing quarter mile.
That’s without the advantage of one-foot roll-out acceleration timing that American car makers typically claim, of course, and it was quicker than the Bugatti Veyron Supersport and Ferrari SF90 Stradale. And this from a 2.2-tonne mid-sized executive saloon, not some carbonfibre hypercar. It’s a £130,000 saloon, granted, and we have yet to fully test any of the electric hypercars that might actually be quicker.
But for now, if you want to travel quickly (and without any associated carbon emissions, of course), this is the EV you need.
Read our Tesla Model S Plaid review
Volkswagen ID Buzz – best for practicality
Pros Big square shape provides huge practicality, refined
Cons High price, can’t yet be had as a seven-seater
Volkswagen finally got around to rebooting its iconic Type 2 ‘microbus’ with the ID Buzz. Sized to sit between a big car and a medium-sized van, it’s intended to fit into typical parking bays and to be easy enough to drive and use in everyday traffic. To feel like a regular family car on the outside but offer much more space and versatility inside, basically.
The Buzz offers passenger and cargo space well in advance of even bigger luxury EVs - and the long-wheelbase version adds seven-seat versatility and extra carrying capacity on the top.
Volkswagen's retro design makes the MPV more desirable than any other utility-flavoured EV, and there are four-wheel-drive, camper van and GTX performance versions planned.
The Buzz is a super-practical EV that you will want to own, designed for life, that escapes the drawbacks of the usual van conversions.