The Irish Times guide to new electric cars for 2020 and 2021
From the Audi e-Tron to Volvo XC40 P8, via Nissan and Tesla, we rate a full 36 models
e-Tron: Audi’s big all-electric SUV isn’t cheap, but once you’re on board you see why. The cabin is beautifully built, and performance is impressive
The proposed programme for government states an intention to copper-fasten, with legislation, the proposal to ban sales of all petrol- and diesel-engined cars by 2030, creating an electric-only market. Dealers, importers, and carmakers are crying foul – saying that 2040 is a much more realistic date, but the road to a fully EV market starts here. This is where you’ll find our pick of the best current (no pun intended) models, and a look ahead to some of the major new battery-powered cars coming down the road in the next six to 12 months.
Verdict Audi’s big all-electric SUV sure isn’t cheap, but once you’re on board you see why. The cabin is beautifully built, and performance (both in terms of range and acceleration) is impressive. Sleeker Sportback and sportier S models are on the way soon.
Verdict The styling is polarising and things such as the infotainment system haven’t kept pace with the times, but the i3 is still a hugely impressive electric car. Latest 120ah battery has inter-city range, and it’s actually good fun to drive. Four seats only, though.
Verdict BMW’s first all-electric SUV takes the basic bodywork of the existing X3 and adds battery power and a nose-job. Range should be impressive, but will we be able to get along with the front-end styling?
Verdict Citroen replaces the Cactus with this fastback hatch that also, kind of, wants to be a crossover. We’re waiting on technical details, but the cabin looks nice and we like that the fastback styling reminds us of the 1970 Citroen GS.
Verdict Battery version of Citroen’s rather pleasant van-based MPV. Masses of space, but small 50kWh battery means range is compromised.
Verdict It looks the same as the 2007 500 (give or take) but the 500e is actually new under the skin. The cabin is roomier, and better built, and it has much better one-charge range than its Honda and Mini rivals. Will Irish buyers still be drawn to the Fiat brand, though?
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Price About €50,000 (TBC)
Verdict Ford has been in the doldrums of late but this Tesla-rivalling electric crossover could spark a Blue Oval renaissance.
Verdict We utterly love the looks, inside and out, but it won’t be cheap and it won’t go as far on a charge as you’d like it to. is Ireland ready for a premium-priced, urban-only, electric car?
Verdict Looks rather similar to the outgoing version, but a bigger battery has given the sensible-shoes Ioniq much improved range, and it remains a reliably rational choice.
Verdict Already a big-seller in Ireland and you can see why. It’s not cheap, but the electric Kona offers more one-charge range (and it’s a reliable, useable range) that beats luxury models costing multiples of the price. Our only quibble is a slightly cheap-feeling cabin.
Verdict Jaguar stole a march on most rivals by getting the I-Pace to the market before the likes of Audi, Mercedes, and BMW, and it remains a hugely impressive car. Range is a little shorter, overall, than you’d like but it’s exceptionally good to drive, and better looking than its German competition.
Verdict Kia’s e-Niro (and, please, ignore the awful adverts featuring Robert DeNiro) combines very long range with a roomy and comfortable cabin, and a decent boot. It’s a bit pricey, maybe, but it makes rivals such as the Nissan Leaf feel distinctly old-fashioned and short-ranged.
Verdict Get the e-Soul in white and it looks, from the front, like a Star Wars stormtrooper. If that’s not enough for you, then check out the long (and reliable) range, and the cabin that looks and feels a little nicer than that of its Hyundai Kona cousin.
Verdict The UX300e won’t hit Irish dealerships until later this year, but if it can mix a decent one-charge range with the impressive cabin and handling of the hybrid UX250h, then it could be winner.
Verdict Mazda’s taking a gamble that what we want is an EV with very high quality, a sharp driving experience, a reasonable price, but short range. That’s a big bet, especially when the public charging network is still in its infancy. A likable car, but will it sell?
Verdict The EQC has imposing, quasi-futuristic styling and feels both rapid and luxurious, but it’s a little compromised by using the chassis from the diesel GLC SUV, and the driving position is unexpectedly awkward.
Verdict Is it wrong to be quite so excited about a converted van full of batteries? Well, perhaps, but we’re still looking forward to trying Merc’s big, electric, MPV. We love the existing V-Class as a classy, understated way to get around, which bodes well.
Range 700km (approx)
Verdict Mercedes is on the cusp of revealing this, the EQS, which with its gargantuan range and S-Class luxury levels could be a major game changer for electric cars in general.
Mini Cooper S E
Verdict Mini takes the existing Cooper S hatch and bungs in an electric powertrain. Lots of fun but range is compromised.
Verdict The one that started it all, but the Leaf is not ageing well. Expensive new 62kWh ‘big battery’ version is not worth the extra, given how short-ranged it is, but the basic 40kWh version is still a decent choice. Cabin looks and feels very old-fashioned though.
Verdict Seven seats meets electric power in Nissan’s EV van. Arguably for taxi-drivers only but a decent (if short-range) choice for big families looking to go electric.
Verdict Arguably, the Corsa-e is the most mainstream electric car yet – its quiet styling and decent performance make it seem an ideal EV choice for those of a conservative bent.
Verdict Mechanically the same as the Corsa-e, the e-208 steps in front of its German cousin by being sharper to look at, and having a really gorgeous cabin. Yes, it’s pricey for a small car and space in the back isn’t great, but as far as electric cars go, this might just be our favourite right now.
Verdict We’re waiting to try the electric 2008, but a car with the basic appeal of the smaller e-208, just with more space inside, sounds like a good idea to us.
Verdict Peugeot’s roomy MPV pulls one out over its Citroen in-house rival by using an optional 75kWh battery that gives it much better range.
Verdict Earth-shattering speed with Earth-saving tech. We always said that Tesla would, having kicked off the electric car revolution, have to start looking over its shoulder as others caught up. That time is now.
Renault Zoe ZE 50
Verdict Renault’s Zoe, having once had the small electric car market to itself, now has fierce competition from Peugeot and Opel, with more on the way. This new model hits back hard with lengthy one-charge range and a much-improved cabin. The more expensive R135 is the better buy is you like an electric surge.
Price €50,000 (approx, TBA)
Verdict Skoda’s first EV is this chunky crossover which feels impressively solid and sure-footed on the road. As well it might do, thanks to intensive prototype testing on Irish tarmac. It’s the closest we’ll get to a home-grown EV hero, but it won’t be cheap.
Verdict In some ways, the Tesla Model 3 is the most impressive electric car around at the moment. It’s fast, it’s good fun to drive, and it’s well-priced relative to conventional rivals. However, there are still grating quality glitches, and Tesla’s habit of over-promising and under-delivering doesn’t help matters.
Tesla Model Y
Verdict All of the 3’s vices and virtues, but with seven-seats and a bigger boot. The Californian carmaker has already hit snags getting the Y into full production, so we may have to wait a while yet, but given how popular the 3 is, would you bet against a glut of these on Irish roads this time next year?
Tesla Model S
Verdict Tesla’s original rule breaker. Amazing batteries and performance, but too many cheap bits and pieces still to be found in the cabin. That’s bad enough on the Model 3, but in a car priced against the Mercedes S-Class, it’s unforgivable. Still, it’s a tempting vehicle and Tesla is working on longer-range and higher-performance versions as we write.
Tesla Model X
Verdict A car dominated by its dramatic doors, the Model X is the electric car that brings the kid out in you – the gullwing rear doors, the built-in games on the touchscreen, and the fart-noise whoopee cushion function. It’s a serious car too – seriously impressive range, seriously impressive performance, and seriously impressive Supercharger charging points. Again, though, there are still niggling quality issues that should have been ironed out by now.
Price €33,000-€50,000 (approx)
Verdict The most important new VW since the Beetle? It sure could be, if that is VW can actually get it on sale on time this summer as promised. Much-publicised software glitches are proving a major headache, and only the most expensive models will be arriving at first, but once the ID.3 comes fully on stream, it could change public perceptions and attitudes to electric cars in a dramatic fashion.
Range 480km (approx)
Verdict VW expands the electric ID range with this Tiguan-sized crossover which looks, judging from the concept versions we’ve seen so far, much more desirable than the slightly-too soft-edged ID.3. Given how well the Tiguan sells, expect this to be a hugely popular car once it arrives next year.
Range 590km (approx)
Verdict So far, all we’ve seen of the third pillar of the Volkswagen ID electric car range is a concept called the ID. Space Vizzion, but this big, Passat-sized, estate looked almost production-ready and VW says it will be on sale by late 2021. Expect a big 82kWh battery pack and a Tesla-beating one-charge range.
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
Verdict Volvo is aiming its new all-electric XC40 right at Tesla, and has benchmarked the P8’s battery and one-charge range directly against the big-selling Model 3. The Recharge name will eventually be used on all of Volvo’s electric and plugin-hybrid models.