Recent sales data for the Society of the Irish Motor Industry revealed that despite the effects of Covid on the new-car market depressing overall sales in the country by a quarter in 2020, one type of machine that saw an upswing was the electric vehicle (EV) – with 4,013 units sold last year, a 16.5 per cent increase compared to the 3,444 EVs shifted in 2019. So, with that in mind, here are the best EVs landing this year, in case you fancy making the move from internal combustion-powered to zero-emissions motoring.
Audi e-tron GT
This is basically a Porsche Taycan but in an Audi frock. That means it challenges not only its German relation but also the Tesla Model S in the high-end executive market, so the e-tron GT will be quick: the RS model has up to 693hp from two electric motors. Charging can take place on a DC connection at up to 270kW, while the range is said to be ‘in excess of 400km’.
BMW’s fully electric ‘i’ range of vehicles is growing in 2021 and beyond, with groundwork already laid by the excellent i3 city hatchback. However, that hasn’t stopped the Bavarian company from introducing a pure-electric X3, which looks just like a regular version of the SUV, but which has 286hp, a 460km range and a maximum charging rate of 150kW. The iX3 is therefore proof that EVs can look entirely conventional on the outside but be futuristic and advanced underneath.
The revived Fiat 500 has been around since 2007 and while it has sold well for the Italian marque in that time, it has never been the greatest city car in the world to drive. The new one, however, might look like nothing more than a slightly smoothed-off version of what went before, but it is hiding a secret: it will only be powered by an electric drivetrain. Choose from City or Long Range battery packs, giving either 185- or 320km of range, and either the Hatchback or Cabriolet body styles, but know that the new 500 is the best fully electric city car of them all right now.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford is going to leverage its hallowed Mustang performance car nameplate on an electric SUV in 2021, which might look risky on the face of it. But there’s a strong line-up of Mach-E models on the way, starting with rear-wheel-drive single-motor versions focusing on driving range primarily and then culminating with the 487hp/860Nm GT, which can run 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds. On the other hand, all versions should be able to cover at least 400km on a single charge and an extended-range battery can lift that figure to 610km on certain versions of the electric Mustang SUV.
Lexus UX 300e
One that’s already with us and, weirdly enough, the first full EV from either Lexus or its parent company Toyota, despite the fact the Japanese giant has been making hybrids since the late 20th century. The UX 300e has cosy rear-seat space and an annoying infotainment controller, but apart from that it’s a wonderful thing to travel in, with a smooth ride and impeccably refined manners. Power comes from a 150kW electric motor allied to a 54.3kWh battery pack, allowing for 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds and a maximum range of up to 315km on a charge.
Another marque making its first tentative steps into the world of EVs, Mazda’s attempt is a classy-looking compact crossover called the MX-30. It has a small battery of 35.5kWh, which only allows for a 200km range. However, that makes the Mazda EV light and relatively fun to drive as a result, while it’s also affordable. Factor in cool rear-hinged back doors, last seen on the RX-8 sports coupe, and what you have here is a compelling electric alternative to a coupe.
Mercedes is planning a massive EV model offensive between now and 2022, and at the vanguard will be the EQA. It sits below the marque’s existing, larger electric SUV, the EQC, and is a zero-emissions alternative to Mercedes’ own GLA crossover. Expect around 400km of range on a single charge, getting on for 270hp from the electric drivetrain and a 0-100km/h time of roughly five seconds when it lands in the second half of the year.
Tesla Model Y
A list of the best EVs for a year with no Tesla on it? Not possible, and next up the ramp is the Model Y. In 2021, we should see the smaller of American company Tesla’s two electric SUVs (the larger is the Model X, which landed here in 2017) up for sale, with various rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (AWD) models offered. The most powerful AWD versions should be able to hit 100km/h from rest in 3.5 seconds, while all Model Ys will be capable of around 500km of driving range on a single charge of their battery packs.
A high-tech interior, cool exterior styling and a 419km range are the calling cards of the excellent Volkswagen ID.3, an all-electric family hatchback alternative to a Golf and a machine that arrived on our shores towards the end of 2020. Further models of the ID.3 will come along in due course, but for those who want something a little bigger, the next EV VW on the cards is an ID.4 SUV – and, if the ID.3 is anything to go by, it should be a cracker.
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
We wanted to put the Polestar 2 here but, as yet, that EV is not confirmed for sale in Ireland. So here’s the same electrical underpinnings, only housed within the stylish body of a Volvo XC40. At first, there’s just the one model, complete with two electric motors, 408hp, 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds and a cruising range of 450km. It can also charge on a 150kW DC connection, so recharging times on rapid stations are, well… rapid.