We’re probably all thinking about going electric when we buy our next new (or even used) car. You might be asking yourself, what is the best electric car in Ireland? Clearly, electric motoring is where it’s going to be at in the next few years, and increasing numbers of Irish car buyers are already jumping on the battery bandwagon. Should you?
Probably, yes. It’s true to say that electric motoring still doesn’t quite suit everyone — those who travel long distances every day, and those who don’t have access to off-street parking should probably at least think carefully before taking the electric plunge — but that number is shrinking every day as both the cars and the national charging network improve. The choice of electric cars available in Ireland is growing almost every day, so here’s our pick of the ten best new electric cars you can buy right now (and some second hand options, too).
Best new electric cars.
1. Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai Ioniq is a deeply impressive car, and that starts with its styling. It’s meant to be inspired by the original, angular, Hyundai Pony hatchback of the 1970s, but takes that basic shape and turns it into automotive art. Check out those astonishing ‘Pixel’ headlights and brake lights, which you’ll spot before you realise that the Ioniq might look like a hatchback, but it’s actually has the same dimensions as a mid-size SUV.
Inside, the cabin is gorgeous, roomy, and very well made with some clever touches such as a centre console that slides back and forth, and an entirely flat floor to maximise space. Under that floor, there’s a choice of 58kWh or 72kWh batteries, which give you a one-charge range of either 384km or 481km. There’s also a choice of a single-motor model, with rear-wheel drive and 170hp, or with the bigger battery you can have rear-wheel drive and 217hp. There’s also a range-topping four-wheel drive version with 305hp. The Ioniq 5 can even charge up other devices — there’s a clever ‘vehicle to load’ feature that can charge e-bikes, power tools, and potentially even your home if there’s a power cut.
Starting price: €38,495
2. Renault Zoe
The Zoe has been around for a while, and indeed was one of the first electric cars to go on sale. It’s been continuously updated since, though, and in 2020 was given a major upgrade with a new battery, new bodywork, and an improved interior. That battery, with a 52kWh capacity, can give you a potential 395km of range on one charge (and Renault includes a helpful mileage ready-reckoner on its website to help you plan your journeys). You can fast-charge it from high-power DC charging stations, as with all other electric cars, but the Zoe has another trick up its sleeve — its ‘slow’ AC charging system can accept a full 22kW charge from kerbside points, meaning that it can charge in around half the time of most competitors.
Inside, you can spot the Zoe’s age in the narrowness of the cabin, but quality is much improved and while the ride quality is rather bouncy, it’s a decent car to drive. It’s also very well priced — at €27,550 it’s still Ireland’s most affordable electric car. A recent poor safety rating from EuroNCAP is a concern, but the Zoe is still fundamentally a safe car.
Starting price: €27,550
3. Skoda Enyaq
Of all the Volkswagen Group electric cars built using the clever MEB electric car chassis, the Enyaq is the best. Being a Skoda, it’s definitely the best value of the lot (even with the bigger of its two battery options, it’s still a little cheaper to buy than the mechanically identical Volkswagen ID.4) and we think it’s the handsomest of the bunch, too.
Inside, you’ll find a cabin that’s stylish, beautifully made, and hugely handsome — quite why you’d want to spend the extra to have an Audi badge is a bit beyond us… The Enyaq is good to drive, too. It’s heavy — as are almost all electric cars — but it’s very smooth, quiet, and comfortable. With the larger 77kWh battery, it can carry you an awfully long way, too. In real world conditions, we’ve made it from Dublin to West Cork on one charge in an Enyaq, which is not bad going, and the claimed maximum range is 534km. It also charges quite quickly, at speeds of up to 125kW if you tick the right options boxes, but beware of spiralling prices if you start adding lots of extras — it’s very easy to spec an Enyaq up to €60,000.
There’s a sleeker Coupe version on the way soon, which will stretch its range to 545km thanks to better aerodynamics.
Starting price: €39,493
4. Nissan Leaf
The second-generation Leaf has fallen behind some of its competition in recent years, as it uses an older, air-cooled battery design that’s not as capable as newer models with liquid-cooled batteries. That said, the Leaf is excellent value for money — €28,145 gets you a 40kWh battery with a 270km range. Not a lot of range, it must be said, but it’s perfectly useable for low-mileage drivers. You can upgrade to larger 62kWh battery for €36,090, but it only gives you an extra 115km, which to be honest doesn’t really seem worth the extra. You’d be as well off with the smaller battery and a good knowledge of where the fast-chargers are.
Inside, the Leaf is roomy and practical, with a very big boot but the cabin is starting to look its age just a little. The one-pedal driving system — which slows the car using the drag of the electric motor, meaning you don’t actually have to use the brakes all that much — is great around town, and the Leaf’s refinement will make most of your driving that much more pleasant.
Starting price: €28,145
5. Tesla Model 3
You simply can’t talk about electric cars without including the Tesla Model 3. It’s one of the world’s biggest-selling electric models, and it’s not hard to see why. Tesla seems to have the magic touch of getting more range out of its batteries, and more power from its motors, than almost anyone else. Even the most basic Model 3 will hit 100km/h in 6.1secs and has a range of 491km. Upgrade to the most popular Long Range version and you get a 602km range, and a 0-100km/h time of 4.4secs. Go for the pricey Performance model and by sacrificing a little range, you’ll have full-on supercar acceleration — 0-100km/h in just 3.3secs…
Inside, the Model 3 is all Scandi-minimalist, with hardly any physical buttons and every single function controlled by the big touchscreen in the centre of the dash. That screen, thankfully, is pretty clear and easy to navigate, but it would be nice to have at least a speedo in front of the driver (that’s on the screen too) and some of the controls and functions are a bit fiddly.
A conventional four-door saloon layout does compromise practicality a bit, but you can always upgrade to the SUV-style Model Y if that’s an issue for you. The only problem? The Model Y isn’t half as good to drive as the Model 3. Both have question marks over their quality levels, though, and the automated driving assistants (lane keeping and active cruise control) aren’t half as clever as they’re claimed to be.
Starting price: €49,990
6. Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford’s first all-electric car for Europe almost doesn’t have a single Ford badge on it, as the Mustang brand is brought to the fore. That makes this EV distinctly sporting, almost aggressive, and also allows Ford to charge more for it. It’s not a cheap car by any means, the Mustang Mach-E, but it does have a trick or two up its sleeve.
For a start, it’s a great looking car, and has plenty of space in its cabin. It also has a massive Tesla-style touchscreen which is happily simple enough to use and find your way around. You can choose from 70kWh or 91kWh batteries, and rear or four-wheel drive. The biggest battery can take you for as much as 610km on one charge, but you’ll have the most fun driving the four-wheel drive models, which are fast and enormously engaging to drive. The ride quality is a bit hard, and the cabin a bit cheap in places, but Ford’s first proper electric effort is as fun as it is good looking. And it’s very good looking…
Starting price: €53,100
7. Volkswagen ID.3
When Volkswagen was building up to the ID.3 original launch, it was hyped as the most important VW model since the original Beetle. Perhaps the ID.3 hasn’t quite matured into something so iconic yet, but then again the Beetle was a slow seller at first. Give these things time, eh?
The best thing about the ID.3 is what good value it is. With the smaller 58kWh battery, you can have this roomy, practical hatchback (it’s almost an MPV in terms of cabin space) with a 425km range, for a hair over €33,000. That’s an exceptional range-to-price ratio, and one not beaten by any competitor. The ID.3 is also good to drive, with a combination of refinement and ride comfort that’s pretty hard to beat.
Downsides? The cabin quality isn’t as good as you’ll find in the larger, more expensive ID.4 SUV (which uses the same chassis, batteries, and motors), and the infotainment system on that big central touchscreen is too often confusing, and too often slow and laggy. An electric Beetle? Maybe some day, but the ID.3 arguably still needs some time to mature.
Starting price: €33,743
8. Opel Mokka-e
Opel’s handsome new crossover gets the same 50kWh battery and 136hp electric motor as you’ll find in the mechanically similar Corsa hatchback. That gives reasonable performance, and a decent-enough range (up to 322km on one charge, but that will drop quite a lot if you’re on the motorway) and it charges briskly, at up to 100kW from a rapid DC charging point. The cabin is roomy and quite stylish, with twin digital screens for instruments and infotainment, and it’s a good thing to drive, too — well-weighted steering and good chassis balance. It’s also really quite good value for money, as it only costs slightly more than the smaller Corsa-e, and doesn’t exact a massive penalty in range for its extra size and less aerodynamic profile.
Starting price: €33,600
9. BMW iX3
There are more spectacular electric BMWs out there — the iX SUV has more power, and styling that’s far more controversial, while the incoming new i4 saloon will give the Tesla Model 3 a decent run for its money. The iX3 though, is kind of the sweet spot of BMW’s electric lineup for the moment. It’s not cheap (what BMW ever is?) but it’s more affordable than the basic iX, yet offers better one-charge range and a very good driving experience (even if it’s not quite so sharp as the more expensive iX). The cabin is basically the same as that of the regular petrol-or-diesel X3 SUV, which means that while it’s not dramatically new, it is at least familiar and really well put together. The single electric motor gives you 286hp and a one-charge range of up to 460km, thanks to an 80kWh battery. Unspectacular? Perhaps, but a very solid choice all the same.
Starting price: €74,815
10. Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace has been on sale since 2018, which means that by now it really ought to have slipped behind the best of its younger competition. The interesting thing is that it just hasn’t — drive an I-Pace today, and not only are its range and performance entirely competitive with newer rivals, but it’s still got a slender lead when it comes to how it drives. Its steering and chassis balance are still the best around, and without question it’s the best electric car when it comes to driving enjoyment. Jaguar has kept it updated with a much-improved infotainment system, and has tweaked the battery control software a little to give the I-Pace a maximum one-charge range of 470km. How much longer can it stay at the sharp end of the market? Well, it’s still there for now, that’s for sure.
Starting price: €74,940
Best used electric buys.
You need to be slightly careful when buying a used electric car. Battery performance fades over time, and even if that effect is not as bad as was originally thought, hard use and poor care by a previous owner can leave you with much less range than the car originally had. Make sure you insist on a lengthy test drive on a full charge to get a feel for how the battery is performing. Once you’ve done that, the best models to go for are…
The second-generation Leaf, the current model, was launched in 2018 and it’s been a strong seller ever since, so this is the car which will give you the most second-hand choice. Prices for the oldest versions have dropped to below €20,000 now, but we’d avoid the older first-generation Leaf. It has a very short maximum range of just 160km, which really means that it’s only useful as a second car for short urban hops. Make sure you check the history of any used Leaf to see if it’s seen service as a taxi — many have.
One we found: 2018 (182) Nissan Leaf SV Premium 40kWh, main dealer, €18,895
As with the Leaf, the Zoe has been on the market for a good while now, and that means there’s plenty from which to choose. Again, and as with the Leaf, earlier versions were very short on range, so beware buying the cheapest on the market, as you’re buying a much less capable car. From October 2016 onwards, the updated Zoe 4.0 was on sale, which came with a bigger battery and a 300km range, making it far more practical and useable. Original Zoes also came with a battery that you rented from Renault, making the car cheaper to buy up front, so check to see if the one you’re looking at has had the battery fully purchased, or if it’s still on a lease scheme.
One we found: 2019 (192) Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav 4.0, main dealer, €17,950