We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Dave Humphreys

Want to go electric? 5 of the best cars to make the switch without spending a fortune

Motor expert Dave Humphreys picks some of the most practical EVs.

ELECTRIC CARS CURRENTLY account for only a small percentage of new car sales, but that figure is set to rise substantially over the coming years. 

For some, the switch to electric is driven by a desire to reduce their environmental impact; for others, it’s the reduction in maintenance and running costs. Not only are EVs much quieter than petrol or diesel cars, but most modern models are far smoother on the road. 

Currently, most new EVs qualify for VRT reduction and SEAI grant, and there is a grant available to have a home charger installed. Company car drivers can also reap financial rewards by switching to electric under the current tax schemes.

When buying an electric car, you should work out what you clock up in a typical day’s driving so that you can choose a suitable battery for the range you need. For each model here, we’ve included the figures on battery size (measured in kWh) and range according to the standardised WLTP cycle.

MINI Electric: Cool city slicker that’s lovely to drive

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The modern MINI has consistently been a popular model, and now it comes as a fully-electric three-door. It is almost indistinguishable from the regular MINI Hatch from the outside. Inside, there’s a nifty digital instrument display, a central touchscreen system, and cool design elements like banks of toggle switches and supportive seats. 

View MINI Electrics on the market now>

Being a three-door does leave it limited on the practicality front, with rear seats that aren’t particularly roomy. Boot space is also on the small side at 211 litres, making this a car for those who tend to travel light. It’s form over function here – that design includes alloy wheels that mimic a three-pin plug.

The biggest positive with the MINI Electric is how enjoyable it is to drive. It’s agile and has a suspension setup that copes very well on poorer road surfaces. With 184hp, it is more than quick enough for every scenario. 

Why this car stands out: Great fun to drive and suitable urban range.

  • WLTP range: 233 kilometres
  • Battery size: 32.6kWh

MG ZS: SUV style but still budget friendly

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Many of the initial fully electric SUVs came from premium brands and carried very premium prices. But MG is bucking that trend as it returns to Ireland, these days as a very different brand under Chinese ownership. The ZS is MG’s fully electric SUV and is size-wise on par with a Nissan Qashqai.

View MG ZS on the market now>

Looking a bit like a mash-up between a Hyundai ix35 and Mazda CX-5, the ZS has kerbside appeal. The interior is reasonably spacious, while the build quality isn’t bad considering its price point. A 448-litre boot should be large enough for most small families, and it offers connectivity features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with the basic infotainment system that comes as standard.

Only one battery size is available with the ZS – a 44.5kWh unit that is good for a claimed driving range of up to 263 kilometres. The ZS performs well on Ireland’s roads, feeling stable at speed and remaining composed. But what sets this apart is an attractive price for an electric SUV.

Why this car stands out: One of the most affordable electric SUVs.

  • WLTP range: 263 kilometres
  • Battery size: 44.5kWh

Hyundai Ioniq: Efficient car with family practicality

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The Hyundai Ioniq is available as a plug-in hybrid or electric, and it’s the latter we’re covering here. An update in 2020 brought in some tweaked exterior styling and an upgrade for the battery.

View Hyundai Ioniqs on the market now>

The 38.3kWh battery in the Ioniq is good for up to 312 kilometres (WLTP) on a single charge. In our testing and anecdotally, it does deliver close to that range figure, too. That gives it a slightly longer range than some smaller EVs, and with 50kW peak charging rates, it can top up relatively quickly with DC chargers to make much longer journeys feasible. 

At 350 litres, the boot isn’t that large – partly due to the sloping roofline – but adults can sit comfortably in the rear. For those seeking an electric family car who don’t see the appeal of a taller crossover or SUV, the Ioniq is an excellent alternative. It comes with a good level of standard equipment too.

Why this car stands out: One of the most efficient cars in its class. 

  • WLTP range: 312 kilometres
  • Battery size: 38.3kWh

Kia e-Niro: Roomy crossover with good range

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The e-Niro costs around €2,000 more than the boxier looking e-Soul, and though both use a similar battery system and offer almost identical ranges, we’ll concentrate on the e-Niro here for its less divisive style. Its crossover design gives it the raised driving position that many people desire, and its spacious interior includes a boot measuring 451 litres.

View Kia e-Niros on the market now>

When it comes to spec and equipment, Kia throws quite a bit at the e-Niro, so it has all the modern features you might expect, like wireless phone charging and a good 10.25-inch touchscreen display. Safety systems include intelligent cruise control and lane follow assist, to name but a couple.

While it isn’t the most thrilling car to drive, its refinement makes it very pleasant to commute in, and its larger battery gives it a decent range for those longer journeys, too.

Why this car stands out: Crossover with a roomy interior and a large battery. 

  • WLTP range: 485 kilometres
  • Battery size: 64kWh

Nissan Leaf: The original gets an upgrade

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

This is one of the best-selling electric cars and has become something of a household name. The Nissan Leaf was the first proper electric car, and it has continued to improve over the years. 

View Nissan Leafs on the market now>

This second-generation model is a big step up from its predecessor, not only for its less divisive looks but also for interior quality improvements. A roomy interior provides enough room for four adults, and the sizeable 420-litre boot is more than some rivals offer.

Just as important is a good ride quality that smoothes over the lumpy tarmac we often face here. A one-pedal drive feature is a joy to use when driving in traffic and urban areas, meaning you rarely have to touch the brake.

Two battery choices add to the Leaf’s appeal, with the larger 62kWh unit also coming with a more powerful electric motor. Everyday performance is adequate in either model, though the longer range of the bigger battery is a welcome feature that some may see the justification in spending the extra on. 

Why this car stands out: Comes with the choice of two battery sizes. 

  • WLTP range: 270-385 kilometres
  • Battery size: 40-62kWh

That’s our round-up for five electric cars that you should consider if you’re planning on making the switch. The even better news is that there is an increasingly wide array of models to choose from, and this choice will grow even further in the coming years. 

Which of these great cars would you go for?

Poll Results:

Kia e-Niro (2287)
Nissan Leaf (1051)
MG ZS (580)
MINI Electric (547)
Hyundai Ioniq (519)

Want to buy a new car with confidence? DoneDeal hosts the widest selection of cars for sale in Ireland, with 79,000 on sale today. The vast majority of those, over 60,000, are from over 1,000 trusted local car dealerships that offer certainty in your purchase through warranties and history checks.

To check out DoneDeal’s range of cars with finance options from all of Ireland’s trusted car dealerships, see here.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel