Top 10 best luxury electric cars 2021
From Audi to Tesla, here are our top picks of the most luxurious zero-emissions motoring options on the market right now
Electric cars are now coming to the masses, with the introduction of sub-£20,000 EVs from brands like Renault and Volkswagen just around the corner. At the same time, there are now more and more electric options for the more discerning driver than before – where previously there was the Tesla Model S and little else.
Now, numerous premium and prestigious carmakers’ flagship models feature electric power, and even more brands including Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin are working on zero-emission models. Start-up companies like Rivian and Lucid are also tailoring their cars for luxury rather than the mass market.
The e-tron was Audi’s first electric production car, and if it looks familiar, that’s because it’s closely based on the existing Q5 and Q7 SUVs. On the road, it's extremely refined, if not the best handling electric SUV, although the cabin will make up for that shortcoming for many: the e-tron fuses the latest technology with the superb interior quality the brand is known for.
Power comes from electric motors on the front and rear axles, giving four-wheel drive and 302bhp – rising to 402bhp if you use the boost function that gives an eight-second burst of acceleration.This results in a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of around 125mph. The e-tron is capable of 150kW charging and has an official range of 248 miles, however, the entry-level version can't crack 200-miles. Read our e-tron review here.
Audi e-tron GT
While SUVs are big business for Audi, the brand is also known for its saloons, and the e-tron GT is its first zero-emissions four-door. The low-slung coupe focuses on performance and driver enjoyment, while also packing typical Audi technology and build quality. It can also cover nearly 300 miles on a charge, and topping up from 10-80% can take as little as 21 minutes thanks to a maximum charging speed of 270kW.
It has a lot in common with the Porsche Taycan, however the Audi is more relaxing than the Porsche. Overall, the e-tron GT is great to drive, has a fantastic interior, boatloads of technology and is really comfortable, making it undeniably one of the most exciting electric cars on the market right now. See our full review of the e-tron GT here to find out more.
The BMW iX is the German brand’s flagship electric SUV and a direct rival to other entries on this list like the Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X. Like many of BMW’s latest models, its styling is undeniably distinctive. Thankfully, it also stands out due to the way it drives, its rapid-charging capability, its on-board technology, its interior quality and the amount of cabin space it offers.
Two versions of the iX are available: the ‘entry-level’ xDrive40 produces 322bhp and can cover up to 257 miles on a charge thanks to its 71kWh battery. The top-of-the-range xDrive50 pumps out 516bhp and features a much larger 105.2kWh battery for a 380-mile range. The iX is a worthy flagship for the premium German brand, which explains its hefty price tag of £69,905 in xDrive40 guise – or £91,905 for the xDrive50. Read our review here.
The iX isn’t BMW’s first electric SUV, as the more accessible but still luxurious iX3 is the brand’s rival to the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA and even the Tesla Model Y. It's not the most exciting, nor the most powerful, electric SUV around, but it's practical, well built and feels upmarket inside. Plus, BMW updated the iX3 even before it arrived in the UK, so it matches the latest version of the X3 it's based on in terms of styling.
The iX3 is available in two trim levels, M Sport and M Sport Pro, with prices starting from £60,000. Less expensive variants will represent better value for money in time, but the iX3 is still worth considering even at its current price point, because it features plenty of toys, offers a decent real-world range, and a pleasant – engaging, even – driving experience. Read our in-depth review of the iX3 here to learn more.
It was launched back in 2018, but the I-Pace's dynamic driving experience remains the benchmark for luxury electric cars. It’s playful and agile, making it one of the most enjoyable electric cars to drive. Its styling, too, is a radical departure for the sporty SUV market, while the interior is every bit as slick as the exterior.
Performance is strong, with 396bhp from an electric motor on each axle. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.8 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 124mph. A 90kWh battery gives an official range of 292 miles, but expect closer to 230 miles in the real world. Read our Jaguar I-Pace review here.
Mercedes is on an electrification mission, with a slew of zero-emissions models headed our way in the near future. The first member of the brand's ‘EQ’ range focuses on comfort above most other things. It’s superbly smooth and refined on the road; those traits are combined with an elegant interior and high-tech infotainment.
Like the BMW iX above, it features love-it-or-hate-it styling, but we think the Mercedes is more striking. Its 80kWh battery gives it a range of 259 miles and with 110kW charging capability, it can go from a 20-80% charge in around 25 minutes. While it’s engineered more for comfort than fun, with 402bhp and 765Nm of torque, it'll hit 62mph from rest in 5.1 seconds. Read our Mercedes EQC review here.
The Mercedes EQS is the German brand’s electric flagship, with sights set squarely on the Tesla Model S, Audi e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan. When it comes to interior quality and on-board technology, the EQS doesn’t disappoint, especially when fitted with the eye-catching 1.41-metre-wide 'Hyperscreen' infotainment setup.
Surprisingly, ride comfort isn’t on the same level as the brand’s own S-Class, but the car does boast a hugely impressive range of up to 450 miles. Prices start from £100,000, but less expensive versions will arrive in the near future, as well as a high-performance AMG version pumping out over 750bhp. Read our review of the Mercedes EQS here.
It's very expensive, but the Porsche Taycan is also one of the best electric cars yet. Porsche’s first fully electric offering features a 93kWh battery and is available in four guises: Taycan, 4S, Turbo and range-topping Turbo S – and there's a Cross Turismo estate, too. With 671bhp, the Turbo will hit 62mph from rest in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 161mph, but the Turbo S has even that beat, with 751bhp helping it to 62mph in an awe-inspiring 2.8 seconds.
As you’d expect from a Porsche, the Taycan’s handling is sublime. As for range, it'll hit between 256 and 279 miles depending on the model. Like its Audi e-tron GT sister car, the Taycan is capable of 270kW rapid charging, although you may struggle to find a public charging point fast enough to take advantage of that. If you do, you can top up the Taycan’s battery from 10-80% in 23 minutes. Read our full review of the car here, as well as our road test of the Cross Turismo estate, too.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S has been around for a few years now, but it’s still the luxury electric car every brand is gunning for. To ensure it remains competitive against newcomers from Audi, Mercedes and Porsche, Tesla has updated the Model S for 2022. The new Long Range model will reportedly be able to cover over 400 miles on a charge, while the performance-oriented Plaid will produce over 1,000bhp for a sub-two second 0-62mph time.
The previous generations of Model S we’ve driven have felt spacious and luxurious, but we have a few concerns about fit and finish, which isn’t up to the same standard of some of the other entries on this list. Yet the Model S’ performance and range figures are so good that it's easy to overlook these issues. Read our review here to learn more.
Tesla Model X
The Model X is Tesla’s luxurious sports SUV, but beneath the sci-fi styling is a car that’s very practical and spacious, with up to seven seats and both front and rear luggage compartments. Yet despite its size and weight – the Model X weighs 2,300kg – it goes like a rocket. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 2.5 seconds in the new Plaid version that’ll arrive in the UK in 2022, which also has a 340-mile range.
Meanwhile, the Long Range version has a range of 360 miles and can go from 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds. Like the Model S, there are some quality issues, but the Model X is still a luxurious and desirable car. Read our full review here.
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