The sub-£40,000 electric cars with the longest ranges
The term ‘affordable’ is a relative one. What might be within one person’s budget might not be attainable for others.
Some will argue – and perhaps rightfully so – that no electric car on sale in Britain today falls into the ‘affordable’ bracket.
That was particularly highlighted in our recent report on the EVs with the longest quoted ranges, many of which cost in excess of £100,000. That’s not what you call battery-powered motoring for the masses!
But there are some models that are far less expensive and that will go plenty far enough on a fully-charged battery to last a week (the average weekly UK passenger car mileage is 131 miles, according to the latest figures).
We’ve set a price ceiling of £40,000 for the EVs that can make it into this countdown. This is the ‘premium tax’ benchmark for Vehicle Excise Duty, with owners of all new motors over this amount forced to pay an extra £355 per year in car tax for the first five years at the standard rate.
Here are 10 EVs that avoid this premium tax sting and can travel the longest distances between charges based on their ‘official’ claims…
10. Nissan Leaf – 239 miles
Variant: e+ N-Connecta
For a shade under £35,000, drivers can get their hands on a Nissan Leaf e+ variant that offers a range of up to 239 miles between charges
Nissan’s Leaf is one of the longest-running electric cars on the market and most popular. Introduced in 2011, with this second-generation version on sale since 2017, it has been treated to a number of updates and upgrades during its decade of existence. Last year, it was the fifth best-selling EV, racking up 9,178 registrations in the UK.
The ‘e+’ versions of the Sunderland-assembled electric family hatchback have been on sale since 2019, offering a larger 59kWh battery with a longer range. Its official driving distance between charges is 239 miles.
For those looking to spend a little less, the Leaf Acenta with a smaller 39kWh battery is currently sold in Britain for £28,995, though the official range is just 168 miles.
9. Peugeot e-208 – 248 miles
Variant: GT 51kWh
Peugeot’s e-208 is the supermini EV with the longest range. However, the only version with an official distance of 248 miles between charges is the most expensive one, costing almost £35k – that’s £15k more than a petrol 208
Peugeot’s e-208 is the sister car to the Vauxhall Corsa-e, but it gazumps it for battery range. However, this is only the case if you opt for the most expensive version in the range that costs £15,000 more than the entry petrol 208.
While all other e-208 models sold in the UK have the 50kWh battery with 136 horsepower, the highest-spec GT variant – priced at £34,995 – has a slightly larger 51kWh pack that boosts grunt to 156hp.
This also extends the range from 225 miles for all the other models (which start from £31,345) to 248 miles. That’s better than any rival EV in its supermini segment and this is a proper little pocket rocket electric car that’s great fun to drive.
8. MG5 EV – 250 miles
Variant: SE Long Range
MG recently facelifted its 5 EV estate, which combines a [relatively] affordable price tag, family car practicality and a range of up to 250 miles from a full charge
An updated version of the MG5 EV estate hit the UK market late last year. The pre-facelift model was the eighth best-selling electric model in Britain last year with 7,030 registrations as the Chinese brand continues to attract customers with its relatively affordable models.
As well as offering loads of space and a cavernous boot, the SE Long Range has a claimed driving distance between charges of 250 miles. That’s impressive for a family-size EV that costs a smidgen over £30,000.
The MG5 EV is sold only with a 61kWh battery and there is a Trophy Long Range (£33,495) option that has more kit. However, this compromises its official range, reducing it to 235 miles.
7. Volkswagen ID.3 – 264 miles
Just one version of the current VW ID.3 costs less than £40,000. That is the Business trim with the smaller 58kWh battery offering 264 miles of official driving range between charges
Volkswagen has only recently taken the wraps off its refreshed version of the ID.3, but as it currently stands today the one that’s in showrooms (with a year-long waiting list) is the original car.
Only one specification of the ID.3 qualifies to enter our list of EVs under £40,000, and that’s the Business trim. This comes with the smaller 58kWh battery offering a range of 264 miles.
For those willing to crash through the £40,000 ceiling – or who are a seasoned haggler – the ID.3 Tour with a 77kWh battery has the longest range of all of 339 miles, though it is priced at an eye-watering £47,470. Considering you can buy a 1.0-litre petrol VW Golf Life for £25,765 in showrooms, it means there’s a £20k mark-up for the longest-range electric alternative. That extra cost buys a lot of petrol.
6. Cupra Born – 265 miles
Variant: V1 58kWh
Cupra’s Born is the sister car to the VW ID.3 above, but in this countdown it fractionally beats it by a single mile on the official range claims
Look familiar? It should! That’s because the Cupra Born is a rebranded version of the VW ID.3 above.
Like its Volkswagen Group sibling, in comes with the choice of a 58kWh battery or a larger 77kWh unit. And, also like the ID.3, only the entry V1 and mid-spec V2 squeeze under the £40,000 threshold. And it’s the former that has the longest official range of 265 miles.
Stretch your budget to a fraction over the price point set here (£40,150) and you can upgrade to the bigger battery pack that provides a single-charge driving distance of 343 miles.
Why you need to take ‘official’ EV range figures with a pinch of salt…especially in winter
Winter woes for some EVs: In a new study looking into the impact of colder temperatures on electric car battery ranges, these five models were found to have the biggest shortfall in real-world conditions compared to official figures
Like miles per gallon figures quoted for petrol and diesel cars, drivers need to take official electric vehicle range claims with a pinch of salt, because in the real world they’re almost impossible to replicate.
This is because the mandated test cycle used by the motor industry is carried out in test labs and under conditions that don’t entirely replicate how people drive out on the road.
Recent real-world testing has found that EVs can miss their official range figures by anything between 3% and 29%.
And the latest report shows they fall even further short when temperatures drop, especially during Britain’s chilly winter season.
A new study published last week found real-world ranges of popular electric models can fall by up to a third when it’s particularly cold outside.
> Read more about why electric cars don’t perform so well in winter conditions
5. MG ZS EV – 273 miles
Variant: SE Long Range
The MG ZS is the cheapest electric SUV on the market, with prices starting at just over £30k. Extend your budget to £32,995 and you can get the SE Long Range with a quoted driving distance between charges of 273 miles
Another MG to make our countdown is the ZS EV – the brand’s only electric SUV model.
It is sold in four different specifications, with prices starting from £30,495 and up to £35,495. They also offer different battery ranges, with the least expensive model (‘SE’ trim) offering 198 miles and the SE Long Range here with 273 miles officially.
What the car lacks in flair it makes up for in practicality and relative affordability. In fact, it’s the cheapest electric SUV model on the market.
4. Kia Soul EV – 280 miles
Variant: Explore 64.8kWh Long Range
The Kia Soul EV is getting a little long in the tooth these days – though you wouldn’t guess that from the premium price tag. The range-topping ‘Explore’ trim level has a 64kWh battery that can go for 280 miles between charges
The Kia Soul EV is a car that feels like it has been on the market for an eternity. It offers compact family hatchback dimensions, bold looks and – relative to other more accomplished models in this list – quite a steep asking price.
While the entry version with a 39.2kWh battery and range of 171 miles costs £32,845, the trim level that makes it to fourth spot in our countdown is the 64.8kWh Long Range ‘Explore’ option, which rings in at £39,045.
The latter has an official range of 280 miles.
3. MG4 – 281 miles
Variant: SE Long Range
For less than £30,000, customers can get their hands on this new MG4 EV with a maximum official driving range of 281 miles
One of the newest kids on the block to make this countdown is the new MG4 EV. The practical electric hatchback only hit the market late last year but is already proving popular – and much of that is down to its modest asking price.
The cheapest version starts from £26,995 but the standard ‘SE’ model features a smaller 51kWh battery with a maximum official range of 218 miles.
It’s the mid-spec ‘SE Long Range’ that will go the furthest on a single charge – an impressive 281 miles. And what makes it a real contender is the fact this variant prices in at under £30,000, with an RRP of £29,495.
2. Kia Niro EV – 285 miles
Variant: ‘2’ 64.8kWh Long Range
Kia’s electric Niro SUV was the third most-bought EV in the UK last year, only trumped by the Tesla Model Y and Model S. A new Niro EV has entered the market with classy looks and loads of practicality
The Kia Niro EV hasn’t been on the UK market for long but is taking the baton from its predecessor as a hugely popular electric car choice for those looking for a family motor.
The Korean car brand sold 11,197 examples of the former e-Niro and new Niro EV in 2022, making it the third most-bought electric model behind Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3.
It is currently available in the UK in three different trim grades from 2 to 4. The ‘3’ and ‘4’ models are also sold with the option of an additional heat pump so they perform better in colder conditions. However, the version taking second spot in this list is the £36,795 ‘2’. It has a range of 285 miles.
1. Hyundai Kona – 300 miles
Variant: Premium 64kWh
The Hyundai Kona Electric is the EV under £40,000 in UK showrooms today with the longest official range. The £37,750 Premium 64kWh is said to be able to cover 300 miles between charges
Like the Kia Niro EV above, a new Kona Electric is due to arrive imminently from Kia. However, despite this, the soon-to-be-replaced version still has the longest driving range of all battery models under £40,000 today.
The Kona Electric comes in three different grades: SE, Premium and Ultimate. Prices vary from £32,450 to £39,900, so all examples qualify to enter this list.
However, it’s the mid-spec Premium trim with the larger 64kWh battery that takes number one spot in our countdown. For £37,750, official figures suggest it will go for 300 miles between charges.
> Read the countdown of electric cars with the longest ranges when money is no object
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