The electric hatchback has come on in leaps and bounds over the last five years. Having first appeared around ten years ago, the market’s first EVs were cars with around 80 miles of usable range, priced at a 50 per cent premium over their petrol-fuelled counterparts. Today, in many cases, real-world range has doubled and that price premium has almost disappeared.
This is a list of our top ten electric hatchbacks compiled considering factors such as range and usability, driving dynamics and affordability. Some are still subject to relatively high prices compared to combustion-engined cars, but their premiums can be offset against lower running costs.
Best electric hatchbacks 2019
1. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf, in first-generation form, set the mould for the affordable electric car approaching a decade ago – and in new second-generation form, it’s back on the top of the pile of contenders who followed in its tread marks.
Having had a 25 per cent boost on battery capacity, the Nissan now leads many of its rivals with a WLTP-certified range of 168 miles. It’s also got significantly more power and torque than its direct predecessor; performs fairly keenly; feels like a more rounded car to drive generally; and has one of the strongest showings here on daily-use practicality for a small family.
A value proposition that’s also improved, and is now on a par with that of a mid-market, conventionally fuelled family hatchback once you take the government’s £4500 PiCG grant into account, cement the car’s market-leading position. It’s our default recommendation for anyone looking to simply replace their fossil-fuelled family hatchback with an electric one well-capable of doing the same job – and doing it well.
2. Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh
Until quite recently, an electric car good enough to combine a genuine 300-mile daily-use range with a sub-£30,000 price point seemed an awfully long way off. The Hyundai Kona Electric has made it a reality, however; quite a coup for its aspiring Korean maker.
By wielding what must be a sizeable competitive advantage on battery buying power, Hyundai has delivered this car to the road with 60 per cent more onboard electrical storage than either of the cars by which it’s bracketed in this list. That’s enough for more than 250 miles of range at typical UK motorway speeds, or more than 300 at a slightly lower clip or around town. And, in this car, it comes packaged with much stronger accelerative performance than its nearest rivals. The Kona Electric is quick enough, even, to live with some hot hatchbacks away from the traffic lights.
That the car’s slightly low-rent, restrictive interior doesn’t make it quite the match of a full-sized family hatchback on practicality is a bit of a disappointment. Also, there’s some frustration to be found in the car’s ride and handling, which both feel somewhat compromised by its weight and the low-friction tyres it uses.