Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Until a few years ago, electric cars were about as exciting as your Nan’s laundry. They were made to be cheap to run, and that meant style was never a priority. Then something strange happened. Car makers realised that people who cared about the environment had money, and that it was relatively easy to make an electric car go very, very fast.
As a result there has been an explosion of new Supercar companies who are using electric power to propel their Hypercars. The established brands are getting in on the act too, rapidly filling their ranges with poshed-up cars with plugs. Here are our top 10 most exciting electric cars.
1. BMW i8 Roadster
When BMW introduced its ‘i’ range of electric cars some said they were ahead of their time. The flagship i8 certainly looks like something from the future, with its swooping lines and forward-hinged scissor doors. The newly launched-roadster version just adds to the style factor, making it as much of a head turner as any Ferrari. But unlike a Ferrari, it is powered by a combination of an electric motor and a diminutive-sounding 1.5-litre petrol engine from a MINI. Plug it in and the i8 will travel for 30 miles on battery power alone. Use the petrol and electric motors together and it will do 0-62mph in 4.6secs and hit 155mph.
2. Polestar 1
Just as electric cars have become unlikely style icons, so too has Volvo. But its newest flagship is considered too hot even for the revitalised Swedish brand, so it has invented a new marque for its high-performance hybrid – Polestar.
The first car to use the brand is a 600bhp super coupé, with two electric motors driving the rear wheels, and a petrol engine pulling at the front. Unlike other high-performance plug-ins, the Polestar has a decent electric range, capable of doing 90 miles on battery power alone. The bad news is that the entire three-year production run is sold out before the car even goes on sale.
3. Jaguar I-Pace
All of the familiar luxury car companies have been stung by the success of Tesla, but Jaguar is the first to launch a proper, credible rival. Instead of being a conversion, the I-Pace has been designed from the ground-up as an electric car, so makes the most of the packaging benefits which come when you don’t need to fit in an engine, gearbox and fuel tank. As a result the Jag has eye-catching, SUV-like looks combined with lots of interior space and luxury. But the best bit is the performance – four wheel drive and super-car rivalling power mean it will do the 0-62mph sprint in 4.0secs and take you 310 miles before you need to plug it in.
4. Rimac C_Two
Supercar makers spend years cultivating a brand, targeting ‘high net worth individuals’ and building a reputation on the race track. So it ruffled more than a few feathers when unknown Rimac came along with a zero-emission hypercar which could claim to be the fastest in the world.
How fast? Thanks to four electric motors producing 1,887bhp (that’s about the same as 15 family hatchbacks), the latest C_Two can hit 0-60mph in 1.9 sec and is said to have a top speed of 258mph. If you don’t try and use all of the power at once, it has a range of 400 miles too. And despite costing a whopping £1.5m, all 150 cars in the planned production run have sold out.
5. Tesla Roadster
There are actually two Tesla Roadsters we could choose here – the earlier model was the first ever car from the brand, launched in 2008. It was pretty stylish, being based on a Lotus Elise, but using an electric motor and batteries borrowed from a laptop to give it a 200+ mile range. This car became even more famous recently when Elon Musk launched one into space to publicise his rocket programme.
If that roadster seems attractive, the Mk2 version in the pipeline should get you really charged up. Due to be launched in 2020, we are promised a sub-2 second 0-60 time, 250mph top speed and an estimated range of 620 miles.
6. Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
The Porsche for families has been a bit of a controversial choice in the past, but the latest car is a real looker, especially in the latest Sport Turismo (estate in normal language) form. It’s practical, posh and great to drive and it’s now also available with a plug!
The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid can do around 30 miles on electricity alone, but is backed up by a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine for when you need to go faster or further. It’s got a sub-5 second 0-60 time, which doesn’t make it the fastest in the Porsche range – but it is the one which can carry your family in style while costing a few pence per mile to run.
7. Aston Martin RapidE
The boss of Aston Martin used to work for Nissan and was one of the driving forces behind the ground-breaking LEAF electric car, so it’s hardly surprising that he sees an electric future for James Bond’s favourite brand.
There are plenty of electric cars in the Aston pipeline, but the first to lead the charge is the four door RapidE. It swaps a V12 in favour of an electric motor and battery, engineered with the help of the Williams Formula One team.
There are no performance figures yet, but it’s said to be faster than the V12 model and will be super-refined, in case you’re tired when getting off your private jet.
Aston says only 150 RapidEs will be built in 2019 and 2020 and they’ll cost around £250,000 each.
8. Nio EP9
Anyone who has ever been to China will complain about the air quality in its cities, so it is not surprising that the country’s motor industry is rushing to build cleaner electric cars.
And it’s not just run-of-the-mill family models either. The flag-waver for the Chinese electric car industry is the Nio EP9, which looks like a car from a sci-fi film.
The specification looks pretty sci-fi too – four in-wheel motors produce a total of 1,340bhp. It has a claimed range of 265 miles and you don’t even need to wait for a charge. The battery can be swapped in just eight minutes to make ‘refuelling’ almost as quick as a petrol car.
So far, as six have been sold and another 10 are scheduled for production – one could be yours for around £1million.
9. Land Rover Range Rover P400E
The Range Rover has always been the focus of hatred by environmentalists, so could this electric version could be the version to change their minds? The new P400e is a plug-in hybrid, which uses a combination of a 114bhp electric motor and a 296bhp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It has a 13kWh battery, which can give a 30 mile range when fully charged and helps out the petrol motor on longer journeys. The Range Rover maintains all of its off-road ability, luxury and aristocratic image too, so it could be the way to make your country estate greener.
10. Anything you want!
If you don’t like the look of any of the other nine cars on this list, then there are now a handful of companies who will take whatever car you wish and convert it to electric power. Past projects have included classic Porsches, VW campervans, Land Rovers, Beetles and old Minis.
The engineers take out the original running gear and carefully replace it with motors and batteries which are either custom built or donated from accident-damaged electric cars such as Teslas and Nissan LEAFs. Besides being cleaner, cheaper to run and more refined than the original, the conversions are usually faster too. Have a look around https://www.electricclassiccars.co.uk for examples and inspiration.