Best electric cars 2023 – the standout EVs on sale right now
There's a huge variety of electric cars on sale in 2023 – here are the best examples the breed
The electric car is here. It’s no longer a case of if but when electric cars become the mainstream, taking over daily driver duties without any tailpipe emissions. It’ll take some drivers longer than others to adhere to this new reality, but an enthusiastic take-up of battery electric cars due to their on-paper greener credentials and preferential government incentives means the change is coming quicker than we might have expected.
Yet for some who take pleasure from driving, the electric car has long been seen as a threat, lacking the emotional characteristics that are so often derived directly from their combustion-engined and mechanical-drivetrain counterparts. The good news is there will still be a place for performance cars in this electric-driven future thanks to synthetic fuels, even if the majority of our day-to-day movements will be handled by batteries.
So with manufacturers now getting the hang of battery electric vehicles, and some of the biggest names already creating some very impressive new models, which are evo’s current favourite EVs? From sports saloons to family hatchbacks and hypercars, we’ve listed the best models on sale in 2023 below.
evo’s top 10 best electric cars:
- Porsche Taycan
- Audi e-tron GT
- BMW i5
- Tesla Model 3
- Kia EV6
- Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
- Rimac Nevera
- Skoda Enyaq iV
- BMW i4
The Porsche Taycan has had a while to mature into the marketplace, in the process becoming one of the very best EVs on sale. It’s now available in three body styles: the original saloon, a high-riding quasi-offroading Cross Turismo and the Sport Turismo estate. And regardless of which style, it is a quite simply stunning car to drive, own and be seen in.
Yes, it’s a heavy beast, and yes it will always lack the emotion of something with a combustion engine, but if the ultimate daily driver has morphed from an Audi RS6 or Mercedes-AMG E63 S into this, it’s a change of direction we can more than get behind. Like no other car of this size and shape, Porsche’s own Panamera included, the Taycan’s directness, feel and capability is unmatched – a not at all surprising example of Porsche hitting it out of the park on its first outing.
Audi e-tron GT
Building on Porsche’s hard work with the Taycan is Audi’s take on the large premium EV, the e-tron GT. Using the same J1 platform as the Taycan, the GT takes a more laid-back approach, as its name suggests. So far, the range is far more limited than that of the Porsche, with two models – the standard Quattro and the RS – that equate roughly in terms of power and performance to the Taycan 4S and Turbo.
The Audi doesn’t emanate with the same precision and tactility as the Porsche. That’s because the e-tron GT lacks the feedback that the Taycan is able to deliver, with body control that’s less resolved, steering that feels less precise and throttle and braking calibration that still needs some work. Its fundamentals are good, but the execution is lacking, for now. The flip side is that the GT makes for a great grand tourer, with an excellent ride quality and, aside from some tyre roar, very good noise insulation.
For its new wave of electric cars, BMW is taking a different approach to the likes of Audi and Mercedes. Rather than producing bespoke EVs based on dedicated platforms, cars like the i5 (and the i4 that also makes this list) are based on the same CLAR architecture as their combustion-engined counterparts; while that might sound like a disadvantage, it means that these electric models capture all the traditional attributes that define the brand.
The i5 may be the same size as a 7-series from a couple of generations ago, but it still drives with the precision and sophistication you'd expect of a 5-series. The Mercedes EQE can't match it for refinement or cabin quality either, and much of the tech and design character first seen on the i7 limo has filtered through to the i5's interior. It's a wonderful place to sit and a thoroughly impressive car to drive, irrespective of its source of propulsion.
Tesla Model 3
This was the car to take Tesla into the mainstream and so far it’s proved hugely popular, with the Model 3 knocking the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class off their premium midsize perch for European sales. That success is likely to continue with the introduction of a facelifted model later this year.
As of now, our favourite version is the Model 3 Performance, with excellent get-up-and-go (0-60mph is dispatched in just 3.1sec) not just from a standstill but on the move too. It’s at this point you might be expecting us to complain about lack of driver involvement, but the Model 3 Performance is actually an engaging driver’s car. The steering, while lacking in feedback, is very quick, direct and accurate, and the chassis offers a degree of composure and refinement that’s very impressive. The build quality could take a much-needed step up for this year’s update, too.
Kia and Hyundai entered the EV car game early with various little runarounds such as the Soul and Niro, but the EV6, its first ground-up effort, has made a much bigger impact. This midsized family EV is part SUV, part saloon car and part hatchback, yet its confused form is irrelevant given its all-round excellence. Available with either a single or dual-motor set-up, the EV6’s best asset is its completeness.
On-road handling is very well judged. Controlled enough to inspire confidence, but not to the detriment of ride comfort, the steering is accurate and well-weighted, and the brakes superbly calibrated in blending friction and regenerative braking. The powertrain is also excellent, with a linear and natural feel to acceleration, and top-spec dual-motor variants have quite a punch to go with it. The flagship GT is sensationally fast with its 577bhp dual-motor setup, and it’ll even pull smoky powerslides in its rear-drive Drift mode…
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
We had high hopes for the Ioniq 5 N ever since we first heard whispers of its unique approach to driving dynamics. This is the first mainstream EV to not only make full use of the software augmentation possible with an electric powertrain, but to give the driver full access to that box of tricks. Everything from the torque distribution, brake regen response and powertrain energy deployment can be adjusted, and it can even simulate the feel and response of an 8000rpm petrol engine.
The result is one of the most involving EVs we've driven, at any price. Fundamental engineering changes over the base Ioniq 5 – including a stiffer structure and a 601bhp dual motor setup – conjure the feel of a genuine performance car, and the plethora of modes add a new dimension that's missing in pretty much any other EV. Switch to a rear-biased torque split and the Ioniq 5 N is thrilling, rewarding and just plain fun, with a more expressive handling balance than even a Porsche Taycan. As a sign of things to come from future N products, it couldn't be better.
With the 4, MG has thrown a curveball right into Volkswagen’s court. It’s an EV that’s not only several thousand pounds cheaper than an equivalent ID.3, but better to drive and easier to live with. This from a brand that holds obvious resonance for UK car buyers, despite its chequered history, has made the big players stand up and take note.
The styling is a little heavy handed, but the MG4 is competent where it counts. Built on MG’s Modular Scalable Architecture, weight is distributed evenly across both axles with a single electric motor driving the rear wheels, and the 4 makes use of these fundamentals with neat, approachable handling. The cabin isn’t exactly sumptuous, but the infotainment system is fairly intuitive and the 4 can comfortably seat four passengers. Factor-in an asking price of £29,495 for the 200bhp SE Long Range that offers 281 miles from a charge, and the MG4 is almost unmatched for value.
The spectacular Rimac Nevera uses some of the most advanced hardware and calibration ever seen on a road car to conjure an intuitive, organic and simply mesmerising driving experience. That it’s able to do so without the character and noise of a combustion engine has ignited our hopes for the future of performance cars – it’s that good.
It’s not just the ludicrous manner in which it deploys 1887bhp to the road with zero fuss, nor the way it never seems to wilt under enormous cornering forces. The Rimac achieves so much more than this, chiefly in the way it communicates to the driver through each touch point and opens up a world of different driving behaviours via its torque vectoring quad-motor setup. As our very own Steve Sutcliffe found out, not even a Bugatti Chiron Super Sport can live with the Rimac on these criteria.
Skoda Enyaq iV
Perhaps the most convincing application of the VW Group’s MEB platform so far is the Skoda Enyaq iV – an attractive and more spacious take on the recipe, with a more intuitive cabin interior design and a host of standard kit. The Enyaq is quite a bit larger on the road than the VW ID.3 and Cupra Born, occupying a similar footprint to the ID.4 SUV. It’s not the most engaging car to drive, but the ride quality and basic handling are good, and Skoda’s throttle, brake and steering calibrations feel the most sorted compared to those of its siblings.
The range also has more variety than smaller MEB models, with the option of either a single- or dual-motor set-up, the latter available in either 261bhp or 293bhp forms. There’s also a sleeker Coupe version and a vRS, but the latter fails to capture the character of a genuine performance car with a flat-footed chassis and powertrain. We’d stick with the standard model, which fulfils its particular brief with much more success.
Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay the BMW i4 is that it looks, feels and drives exactly as you’d hope a fully electric 3 or 4-series might. Based on the 4-series Gran Coupe, the i4 has been adapted with a slightly longer wheelbase and an underfloor battery pack, and while there’s no escaping the dual-motor M50 version’s 2215kg kerb weight, its 536bhp output makes light work of that mass with a 3.9sec 0-62mph time.
With additional bracing across what would normally be the engine bay in a 3/4-series, there’s the clarity to the steering that marks out the best modern BMWs, with an absorbent and relaxed nature to the chassis. This gives the i4 a GT-like quality, but it’s also adept at tackling B-roads at pace with enough control to keep all that mass in check. With up to 318 miles of range in the M50 version, it’s a crushingly good all-rounder.