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The best electric cars: Five you should consider buying in 2017

In the market for an electric car? We have driven them all to find out which is best and why so you can find the right car for you.

We love a good V8 as much as the next petrolhead, but the case for an electric car grows stronger every day. They are nippy, emit zero CO2 emissions locally so everyone can enjoy cleaner air and they can be filled up for significantly fewer pennies than a petrol or diesel.

With that said, they are still expensive to buy in the first place (so the payback time is longer), the resale value can be an issue (because of the battery cell's longevity), most require longer journeys to be planned (because of range) and access to a home charger is nigh-on essential (to make charges easier).

To say electric cars are a perfect fit for everyone would be a lie, then, but a financial case can certainly be made in a lot of cases, especially as the charging network in the UK continues to grow and electric car prices creep down towards the realms of affordable.

But which are the best electric cars available now and are there any that you should potentially wait for? Just how many miles can you go between charges? We decided to investigate, with a view to updating the article as new cars are introduced and old ones are given a facelift.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

The Ioniq Electric offers 110 miles of practical motoring in a package suitable for families, thanks to enough space for four adults, space one little-one in the middle and a 350-litre boot. It starts from £24,995 and comes with a five-year, 125,000 mile warranty.

It should be able to go around 110 miles on a single charge, narrowly bettering the Nissan Leaf, while the standard level of equipment is very generous, with automatic emergency braking and Apple CarPlay and Lane Keep Assist some of the highlights.

What really helps the Ioniq Electric stand out is the fact it is actually a fairly enjoyable car to drive. Nippy enough to have the odd blast, smooth enough to be very comfortable and cheap enough to be worth considering. We also like the ability to vary the level of engine braking using paddles behind the steering wheel, reducing the need to use the brakes.

From £24,995 | Hyundai Ioniq Electric review

Tesla Model S / Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model S is the king of the electric cars, but it comes at a much greater cost than everything else in our list. A top-spec P100D with all the trimmings, for instance, comes in at around £115,000. The payback time will be a fair few years, if ever.

But then it does offer more than 250 miles on a single charge, 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds if you opt for the Ludicrous Mode Upgrade (making it as fast as a hypercar off the line), up to seven seats (though the two rearmost ones are mainly for kids), unrivalled safety levels and all-wheel drive.

Then there is the fact it has a 17-inch display and a clever infotainment system that lets you browse the internet, up to a staggering 607lb/ft (910Nm) of torque and a top speed of 155mph. It also glides along like nothing else and it seems to attract serious levels of attention from bystanders.

As for practicality, there could be more cubby holes inside (where are the door bins?) but it has a front trunk, a rear boot that offers 894 litres of space before you consider folding the second row of seats down and a clever Autopilot system that lets the car drive itself on motorways.

For those who want even more space, the larger Model X SUV has you covered and comes with fancy Falcon Wing doors that appear to have had some reliability issues, but most owners seem happy.

From £58,900 | Tesla Model S P90D review

Nissan Leaf

Nissan was one of the first to give electric cars a chance and so the Leaf is now a veteran, with each update making it even more capable. It can be had from as little as £16,680, but that means leasing the battery and going for the smaller range of the 24kWh battery.

The EPA rating of the 30kWh is 107 miles and it can be filled up for a few quid. 0-62mph takes 11.5 seconds so it is a bit slower than its competitors, but then you get a bigger 370-litre boot, a wonderfully quiet drive and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

While the 30kWh costs more, it does come with an eight-year warranty instead of five years and the level of standard equipment dramatically improves. Take it to a fast charger, meanwhile, and you can recharge 80 per cent in 30 minutes, compared with a 12-hour home charge from a domestic socket.

From £16,680 | Nissan Leaf

BMW i3

Another manufacturer who decided to really go for electric cars, as opposed to modifying current models, is BMW and the i3 just so happens to be a solid car. Not only does it have a unique aesthetic, inside and out, it offers the largest battery capacity bar Tesla.

In its top-spec i3 94Ah version with 170hp, it can go around 115 miles on a full charge while offering an impressive 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds. Rear boot space is 260 litres and there is less interior space than some of its rivals, but then it is a smaller car and that makes it better around town.

Unlike other electric cars in this list, the BMW i3 can be had with a range extender petrol motor that is solely tasked with recharging the battery but this comes at the expense of emissions (from 0g/km to 12g/km) and acceleration (0-62mph in 8.3 seconds).

It does, however, mean you have a back-up plan if you run out of battery and it can go a lot further on a single charge. Pricey, but very competent and served with an eight-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

From £32,380 | BMW i3 94Ah

VW E-Golf

Diesel gate or not, VW makes some superb cars and the Golf is one of the most versatile. So in giving it an electric powertrain, you get the best of two worlds ─ solid build quality and practicality with a much lower carbon footprint and cheaper fuel bills.

Boot space takes a hit to accommodate the battery pack, going from 381 litres to 341, but that still means a reasonable amount of space for things. The battery capacity is 24.2kWh, giving it a range of around 80 miles in real world use and the top speed is 87mph. 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds.

The VW E-Up is another solid car if you want something cheaper and smaller but with the same VW quality credentials. Or you can wait until the 2017 E-Golf arrives, which will probably cost more but comes will have a class-leading 36kWh battery capacity good for around 125 miles.

From £31,680 | VW E-Golf review

The electric cars to watch

Tesla Model 3

Tesla knows how to make an electric car and the Model 3 will be the most affordable of them all. It will be priced around that of a BMW 3 Series, offer a 215-mile range and a 0-60mph time in less than six seconds.

Autopilot has been promised, as has a Ludicrous Mode Upgrade for those who want to pay extra for more performance. From what we have seen, it should be a looker, too. The Tesla Model 3 is expected to go on sale in late 2017, assuming there are no delays.

Tesla Model 3: Everything you need to know

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar is the latest major car manufacturer to wade into eco waters with a full-blown electric saloon it calls the I-Pace concept. The EPA range is said to be 220 miles and performance should be impressive, thanks to a 394.5bhp power output and 516lb/ft of torque.

0-60mph takes a claimed four seconds, while a touch of liquid cooling ensures the range remains consistent no matter how hot or cold the weather is. Inside is a fancy interior that even includes a starry night in the roof.

Find yourself a 50kW charger and it will charge from empty to 100 per cent in two hours, or 80 per cent in 80 minutes if you want to spend less time waiting around. Jaguar says the I-Pace will be on the road in 2018 ─ definitely one to watch.

Jaguar I-Pace: Everything you need to know

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