Best electric cars 2022 – the standout EVs on sale right now
Electric cars will only improve, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t already good ones out there. Here are the best examples you might actually want to have on your drive today
The electric car is here. It’s no longer a case of if but when electric cars become the mainstream, taking over daily driver duties without any tailpipe emissions. It’ll take some drivers longer than others to adhere to this new reality, but an enthusiastic take-up of battery electric cars due to their on-paper greener credentials and preferential government incentives means the change is coming quicker than we might have expected.
Yet for some who take pleasure from driving, the electric car has long been seen as a threat, lacking the emotional characteristics that are so often derived directly from their combustion-engined and mechanical-drivetrain counterparts. The good news is there will still be a place for performance cars in this electric-driven future thanks to synthetic fuels, even if the majority of our day-to-day movements will be handled by batteries.
So with manufacturers now getting the hang of battery electric vehicles, and some of the biggest names already creating some very impressive new models, which are our current favourite EVs? Available in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from clever city-centric superminis to heroically fast super-estates, these are the best electric cars on sale right now.
Best electric cars 2022:
- Porsche Taycan
- Audi e-tron GT
- Tesla Model 3
- Kia EV6
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
- Volkswagen ID.3
- Cupra Born
- Skoda Enyaq iV
- Honda e
- Polestar 2
The Porsche Taycan has had a while to mature into the marketplace, in the process becoming, broadly speaking, the best EV on sale. It’s now available in three body styles: the original saloon, a high-riding quasi-offroading Cross Turismo and the new Sport Turismo estate. And regardless of which style, it is a quite simply stunning car to drive, own and be seen in.
The model range varies in terms of output, from the basic single-motor, rear-wheel-drive Taycan from £73k all the way through 4S, Turbo and Turbo S at £140k. The new GTS is perhaps the most involving of all Taycans, combining the sharpest chassis set-up with a balanced power output from its two electric motors.
Yes, it’s a heavy beast, and yes it will always lack the emotion of something with a combustion engine, but if the ultimate daily driver has morphed from an Audi RS6 or Mercedes-AMG E63 S into this, it’s a change of direction we can more than get behind. Like no other car of this size and shape, Porsche’s own Panamera included, the Taycan’s directness, feel and capability is unmatched – a not at all surprising example of Porsche hitting it out of the park on its first outing.
Audi e-tron GT
Building on Porsche’s hard work with the Taycan is Audi’s take on the large premium EV, the e-tron GT. As its name suggests, the GT takes a more laid-back approach with its shared underpinnings. So far, the range is far more limited than that of the Porsche, with only two models available that equate roughly in terms of power and performance to the 4S and Turbo, priced between £83k and £114k.
The top-spec RS e-tron GT is the faster of the two, but where the GT portion of its moniker makes perfect sense, the RS bit is less convincing. That’s because the e-tron GT lacks the feedback that the Taycan is able to deliver, with body control that’s less resolved, steering that feels less precise and throttle and braking calibration that still needs some work. Its fundamentals are good, but the execution is lacking, for now.
The flip side is that the GT makes for a great grand tourer, with an excellent ride quality and, aside from some tyre roar, very good noise insulation. The ultimate question of whether you’d pick one over a Taycan is a tough one for us, though, as Porsche’s original is also still the best.
Tesla Model 3
This was the car to take Tesla into the mainstream and so far it’s proved hugely popular, with the Model 3 knocking the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class off their premium midsize perch for European sales. In the UK the range comprises the £43k rear-wheel-drive Standard Range and the £50k all-wheel-drive Long Range and top dog £60k Performance model.
And it’s the last of these that’s our pick of the Model 3s, with excellent get-up-and-go (0-60mph is dispatched in just 3.1sec) not just from a standstill but on the move too. It’s at this point you might be expecting us to complain about lack of driver involvement, but the Model 3 Performance is actually an engaging driver’s car. The steering, while lacking in feedback, is very quick, direct and accurate, and the chassis offers a degree of composure and refinement that’s very impressive, if not as ultimately capable as those of BMW’s M3 and Alfa Romeo’s Giulia Quadrifoglio.
It’s not perfect – some will struggle to get on with the 15-inch touchscreen, while others will feel that the quality of materials and the fit and finish aren’t perhaps what you might be expecting from a machine with a nigh on £60,000 price tag. The seats are pretty poor too, lacking in support and lateral grip. It’s an intriguing prospect though, and one that shouldn’t be written off before you try it for size.
Kia and Hyundai entered the EV car game early with various little runarounds such as the Soul and Niro, but the EV6, its first ground-up effort, has made a much bigger impact. This midsized family EV is part SUV, part saloon car and part hatchback, yet its confused form is irrelevant given its all-round excellence. Available with either a single or dual-motor set-up, the EV6’s best asset is its completeness.
On-road handling is very well judged. Controlled enough to inspire confidence, but not to the detriment of ride comfort, the steering is accurate and well-weighted, and the brakes superbly calibrated in blending friction and regenerative braking. The powertrain is also excellent, with a linear and natural feel to acceleration, and top-spec dual-motor variants have quite a punch to go with it.
With prices spread between £41k and £52k, it’s also excellent value considering the performance, space and build quality on offer. All you need to do is get over the odd exterior design. And the badge, if you’re still that way inclined.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Cousin to the EV6 above, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 shares the same underlying platform and mechanicals, but packages them up in a retro-punk design that looks great in pictures, if less so in the flesh. Unfortunately, the longer wheelbase and SUV body do have compromises on the road, with more body roll and less clarity to the driving experience.
If space is what you need, however, then the Ioniq’s vast cabin and boot space make this a fantastic alternative to the usual SUV options. As with the Kia, the dual-motor variants have plenty of punch, and balance this with a good consistent range when conditions are right.
It’s also arguably more versatile than the Kia, with its shapeshifting interior and more generous rear legroom, and in reality is a brilliant replacement for the current obsession with midsized SUVs. It’s also cheaper than the Kia, with models priced from £37k to £48k. As a daily driver the Ioniq 5 is a brilliant example of the EV we could, and possibly should, all be driving in the mid-to-near future. Together with the Kia EV6, they make a compelling pair that have quickly established a new order in the electric car era.
The Volkswagen ID.3 isn’t just a new electric car for VW – it’s the first fruits of its multi-billion pound investment the brand has put into its EV agenda. Like its ICE models, its EV brigade is defined by platforms and shared components, but like the Golf, which forms the basis of it’s MQB platform, so too is the ID.3 the basis of VW’s new MEB architecture.
The ID.3, then, is the electric VW in its purest form – a Golf-sized hatchback that sits a little tall on account of its skateboard chassis, but otherwise emulates the traditional day-to-day family hatchback. Is the ID.3 actually a good car, though? Yes and no. The single-motor powertrain, bespoke chassis and basic handling balance are good, although there is still some work needed to be done with throttle and braking feel.
The flaws show up in the ID.3’s execution, however. This is not a cheap car – far from it in fact, ranging from £32k to £40k – but the interior material quality and the user interface are examples of astonishing oversights which make the car difficult to sync with day-to-day. There is hope in the ID.3’s fundamentals, but if you’re expecting Golf-like useability and quality from VW’s first EV, you might be disappointed.
If you want a car from the VW Group stable but don’t fancy a Volkswagen specifically, you could drive down the road to your nearest Cupra dealership, where you’ll soon find the £33,735 Born, a Catalan interpretation of the ID.3, which does go some way to mending some of the ID.3’s issues. By that, we mean the Born’s interior is a much more premium experience, and not just on account of its optional blue leather trim.
Beyond the interior, the Born’s more expressive design also differs from that of the friendly looking VW, packaged up with a slightly more powerful flagship model and a more performance-oriented wheel and tyre package.
This is by no means an electric hot hatchback, it must be said, but it’s a positive step in the right direction for a chassis that still feels like there’s more to give, especially if there were to be a secondary motor slipped onto the front axle. For now, though, the Cupra Born retains the single rear-mounted motor and rear-wheel-drive layout of the ID.3.
Skoda Enyaq iV
Perhaps the most convincing application of the VW Group’s MEB platform so far is the Skoda Enyaq iV – an attractive and more spacious take on the recipe, with a better interior design and more standard kit. Typical Skoda stuff.
The Enyaq is quite a bit larger on the road than the VW ID.3 and Cupra Born, instead sharing its larger dimensions with the ID.4 SUV. It’s not the most engaging car to drive, but the ride quality and basic handling are good, and Skoda’s throttle, brake and steering calibrations feel the most sorted compared to those of its siblings.
The range also has more variety than smaller MEB models, with the option of either a single- or dual-motor set-up, the latter available in either 261bhp or 293bhp forms. But, the value-for-money advantage Skoda has been known for in the past compared to equivalent VW Group products doesn’t hold true to the same extent with the Enyak. While pricing starts at just under £35k, tick some option boxes at the upper end of the range and you can run things all the way to nearly £60k.
Look at things subjectively and the Honda e might appear to hit a few barriers on account of its tiny range, high price point and small cabin, but look a little deeper and you’ll realise that the Honda e is simply the most audacious small EV since BMW’s brilliant i3. Under its distinctive skin, the e runs a bespoke chassis, and in the process Honda used the opportunity to package in the best elements possible, not the most cost-effective.
You can see this in its exterior design – frameless windows, side-view cameras, flush-fitting door handles and slick junctions between panels make it look and feel like a concept car. Peel back the skin and the double wishbone suspension (all-round) rear-engined layout and the brilliant interior all support this notion. Even better, it drives just as good as it looks and, while not quick in a traditional sense, makes for a brilliant city-based runaround.
Yes, range is limited (a quite off-the-pace 137 miles), it’s not quick (0-60mph in 8.3sec) and thanks to a strong Yen and skyrocketing shipping costs entry-level models cost from £34,365, but if you’re after a clever small EV that’s been really thought about and fantastically executed, the Honda e is it. All it needs is an extra 100 miles of range.
Of the established players to compete with the Tesla Model 3, ironically it took a brand that no one had ever heard of to do so. Polestar, all-electric subsidiary of Volvo (now the Polestar 1 has ceased production) took on the Model 3 with its midsized Polestar 2, a slightly high-riding saloon with chic Scandinavian design and a squeaky-clean image. Available with either one or two motors, the 2’s shared foundations with the XC40 SUV mightn’t make it the sharpest EV to drive, but there’s no doubting its quality and clever design.
Top-spec models do pack a neat 402bhp, and when combined with the optional Performance Pack include uprated Brembo brakes and mechanically adjustable Öhlins dampers. Granted, the use of mechanically adjustable dampers on a car such as the Polestar 2 doesn’t make sense – especially on the unforgiving set-up from the factory – but when specified properly they make the car an excellent daily driver.
Yet, where Polestar as a company really scores in our book is its relative transparency about the impact its production process actually has on the environment. Polestar is the only manufacturer to release a CO2 footprint at the point of purchase – a number that’s actually worse than that of an equivalent Volvo with an internal combustion engine. The reason for this is a public and sustained effort to bring that number right down, and actually achieve what converting our daily drivers to EVs is all about, which is to say, achieving a broad and overreaching reduction in our CO2 footprint.