UK’s Whatcar? has announced the winners of its very first electric car awards, five of which you can buy right now in Australia.
As The Driven noted on Tuesday, the nomination lineup put forward by Whatcar? is an eye-watering list of electric vehicle models not available in Australia, particularly in the small car segments.
Now the inaugural verdict is in, and although we are sad to say the winners of the small car segments can not be obtained new in Australia, five out of the eight listed as winners can.
From largest to smallest, we list the winners here – in reverse order to save disappointment!
Seven-seater segment winner: Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X wins the seven-seater segment – although to be honest it didn’t have too much competition, as the Model Y is not available yet in the UK (or in Australia for that matter), and its only other contender was the Nissan E-NV200 Combi.
However, as Whatcar? notes, “but a shortage of electric seven-seat rivals shouldn’t take anything away from Tesla’s achievement.”
With its gull-wing doors, Tesla cool and spacious dimensions, Whatcar? praises the fact that in terms of acceleration and despite its size, it can easily outdo many sportscars.
While all this comes with a price – in Australia, even the five-seater long range model costs from $138,880 – Whatcar? reckons that it is the seven-seater option that makes the Model X stand out from the electric vehicle crowd.
“You can have a five-seat version for slightly less cash or a six-seater for slightly more, but it’s the seven-seater that makes most sense, because its extra flexibility is something other electric SUVs such as the Audi E-tron and Jaguar I-Pace can’t match,” says Whatcar?
Performance car winner: Porsche Taycan
The production version of Porsche’s Mission E concept, the Porsche Taycan is available in Australia from $191,000. According to Whatcar?, the Taycan 4S is the best buy of the four-variant range, as it is not only the most affordable of the lot but can also drive the furthest.
However, to get a range-topping 480km out of the 4S, you’ll have to chip in for the Performance Battery Plus which in Australia is priced at $13,690.
And for all that you also get a lot of fun on the road, says Whatcar?
“It exhibits stunning levels of body control, in contrast to the comparatively wallowy Model S, and its accurate, feelsome steering makes it feel much smaller than it actually is on tight country roads,” says Whatcar?
“And while the 4S is capable of finding massive traction regardless of conditions, on the right road there’s still enough playfulness to keep more experienced drivers entertained. That’s a dimension missing from every other electric car on sale.”
Luxury SUV winner: Jaguar I-Pace
The Jaguar I-Pace, which is available in Australia from $128,860, takes home the title of Whatcar?’s luxury SUV awards because, it says, “despite being a heavy luxury SUV, it handles and steers exceptionally well, helping to make it a more entertaining car to drive than its main rivals, the Audi E-tron and Mercedes EQC.”
Whatcar? also rates the I-Pace’s range, which it says ranks equal with the Kia e-Niro at 407km in real world conditions.
However, there is a “slight trade-off for its sporty character is that the I-Pace isn’t quite as refined at high speeds as its German rivals, but that’s like saying a steel girder isn’t as hard as a diamond,” says Whatcar?, adding that it has a bit more road noise than its competitors.
“As with most EVs, it’s wonderfully hushed most of the time, with just a bit more tyre noise intruding than you hear in the E-tron or EQC. The ride is very forgiving and well controlled on the standard suspension, too, so there’s no need to slash out for the optional air setup.”
Executive car winner: Tesla Model 3
The doyenne of the electric car world, the Tesla Model 3 is available in Australia from $73,900. With sleek cat-like stylings on the outside, at first glance the interior may seem rather minimal for an executive car but the Model 3 it is deceptively ahead of its game.
From its “truly breathtaking” performance, its ability to quickly recharge at Tesla’s Supercharging network, to its software-packed touchscreen interface that can update the car’s operating code over-the-air, Whatcar? cays, “In short, the Model 3 Performance was at the bleeding edge when it arrived, it’s at the bleeding edge today, and it’s a bleeding good car full stop.”
Small/family SUV winner: Kia e-Niro
The small SUV segment is where Whatcar?’s winners list starts to betray the lack of choice in the Australian electric vehicle market.
While the MG ZS EV (due in Australia in coming months) and the $59,990 Hyundai Kona Electric both made the nomination list, it is the e-Niro – delayed in Australia due to a lack of government support for EVs – that Whatcar? says is the winning pick in the small SUV segment.
Having previously won Whatcar?’s Car of the Year title for 2019, “it showed that uncompromised electric car ownership was no longer reserved for the privileged few,” says Whatcar?
“Two years on, the e-Niro is still something of a people’s champion,” says Whatcar?, noting that although it is more expensive in the UK than the budget-priced MG ZS EV, it has a much longer driving range.
Family car winner: Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Hyundai Ioniq EV, available in Australia from $48,490, earns the title of best family car for its simple but compelling recipe: it brings a familiar yet well tried vehicle to the table but just does it better than anyone else, says Whatcar?
As noted by the UK mag, it is a fun and quick drive, out doing the Nissan Leaf on the motorway, and delivers far more driving range than other 40kWh battery equivalents.
In terms of interior space, it has plenty of leg room and the hatch means the back cargo area is easy to access – although the sloping roof might mean less headspace for taller occupants.
“All in all, the Ioniq Electric makes the transition to zero-emissions power as easy as possible,” says Whatcar?
Small car winner: Peugeot e-208
According to Whatcar? the Peugeot e-208 stands out precisely because it does not stand out. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry – what they mean is that this unassuming small electric hatch packs a lot in, although you wouldn’t know it form the outside.
With a 50kWh battery for 257km real world driving range according to Whatcar?’s testing, it offers more in terms of range than the Honda e, and although it is outdone in this department by the Renault Zoe, it is far nipper and comfortable to drive, says Whatcar?
But it is, unfortunately, not available in Australia.
Which is a shame, because compared to the Mini Cooper SE, which has just landed in Australia from $54,800, it also wins on battery size and range as well as comfort, says the UK mag.
“All things considered, then, the e-208 is the best small electric car you can buy. To keep the cost respectable, we’d recommend steering clear of range-topping GT trim, unless you really love your creature comforts,” says Whatcar?.
Value car winner: Seat Mii
The tiny two-seater Seat Mii, available from £19,800 ($A36,107 converted) in the UK after applying the UK plug-in car grant, has taken out Whatcar?’s “value car” segment. Although one of the more expensive cars in this segment, Whatcar? says it outdid its competitors in terms of driving range with 178km driven in its real world range test.
“With a surprising amount of space inside and a low starting price, the Mii Electric is the ideal first step on the electric car ladder,” says Whatcar? … which sounds great except for the fact that, as with the e-208 and e-Niro, you can’t buy it here in Australia.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the e-208 real world range is 160km.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.