It’s a question that crops up all the time: “What is the best electric car?” Of course, it seems like a straightforward question. It is, on the face of things. But there are so many caveats here it could take us all day to get through them.

Read: The best electric motorcycles

The truth is that electric cars, just like their petrol-powered alternatives, are so diverse that you really have to fill out a questionnaire before you can get a solid answer. That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all electric car, or there would be only one. You need to find what is the best electric car for you.

So ask yourself:

  • Do you need the best electric car range?
  • Do you want the fastest electric car?
  • Do you want the best electric car lease deal?
  • Do you want a budget electric car?
  • Do you need a fast charging electric car?

If you’re confused by the market, we’re here to help you make your decision. We’ve simplified the issue by leaving out the plug-in hybrids that can further confuse things and we’ve come up with a list of the best all-electric cars on the market.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Like Honda and Toyota, Hyundai proclaimed the superiority of hydrogen fuel cell technology over battery-powered EVs, and the Korean manufacturer put its money where its mouth was with the hydrogen-powered Ioniq.

Hyundai hedged its bets however with hybrid and full-electric variants of the Ioniq. The latter is available for under $30,000 right now, and we think it will do much better than its hydrogen-powered counterpart.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric looks…regular, and you’ll have to decide how you personally feel about that. It offers around 110 miles of range, which is under half what competitors like the Bolt EV boast, but then again, it’s around $7,000 cheaper too. This is not, by any means, a flashy car, but it has solid range, a decent feature set, it drives really well, and it’s already on the market. If only Hyundai would make up its mind and put some marketing dollars behind it. Check it out, you might like it!

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric available now.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric key specs

  • Range: 108 miles (175 km)
  • Battery: 28 kWh
  • Top speed: 102 mph (165 km/h)
  • Torque: 44 lb-ft (295 Nm)
  • Power: 120 hp (88 kW)
  • Weight: 3,130 lb (1420 kg)

Hyundai Ioniq Electric price

  • $29,500

Volkswagen e-Golf

VW eGolf, a solid electric hatchback

The Volkswagen Golf is the second best-selling car in the world. Just a fraction of the hatchbacks that roll off the line are electric, but then this is a new adventure for VW and its smart business to start with a perennial favorite.

There’s nothing spectacular about the e-Golf, but then that’s why it could sell in big numbers. It’s just an electric version of a machine that has conquered the world.

You get 199lb ft of torque, 83 miles of range and that legendary VW build quality. It comes with three power maps and three levels of regenerative braking, too. In certain states you can get a $179 a month lease deal after the initial payment, which is less than some spend on gas.

For that you get an 85mph top speed, a 0-60mph time of 9.4s and a touchscreen infotainment screen. Audi’s e-tron range will offer a premium version, but the VW will be the volume seller that drives the VW group’s zero emissions movement. Now it just needs more range.

Volkswagen e-Golf key specs

  • Range: 125 miles (201 km)
  • Battery: 35.8 kWh
  • Top speed: 93 mph (165 km/h)
  • Torque: 214 lb-ft (290 Nm)
  • Power: 134 hp (100 kW)
  • Weight: 3,391 lb (1,538 kg)

Volkswagen e-Golf price

  • $28,995

BMW i3

BMW i3, the fashionable electric city car

BMW has redefined the small car genre with the i3 and there’s plenty more to come from this line of carbon-fiber/aluminium bodied machines.

A range of 81 miles is the limiting factor, although you can order your i3 with a range extender engine that turns it into more usable transport with a 150-mile range. In 2017, the i3 will have a range of 114 miles without petrol power.

It charges in 3 hours on a 220-volt outlet and with a rear-drive set-up it should be fun. Intrusive electronics and a 2600lb kerbweight mean it isn’t quite the pure driving machine that built BMW’s reputation.

It is, however, a premium city car that means people can enjoy zero emissions without slumming it. It’s a lifestyle statement and a fashion accessory, as much as a usable car, but the world still loves a designer label.

There are neat tricks on the i3, including regenerative braking that means you can leave the brake pedal alone if you plan your drive. It will also hit 60mph in 6.5s, which in the confines of the city is all you are likely to need.

It isn’t the total package, but it’s a good first attempt from BMW and a clear sign of what is to come.

BMW i3 key specs

  • Range: 125 miles (201 km)
  • Battery: 35.8 kWh
  • Top speed: 93 mph (165 km/h)
  • Torque: 214 lb-ft (290 Nm)
  • Power: 134 hp (100 kW)
  • Weight: 3,391 lb (1,538 kg)

BMW i3 price

  • $43,395

Tesla Model S

We’re struggling to think of a better all-round electric car than the Tesla Model S and it makes the rest of the motoring world look a little stone-aged right now. It’s just that good.

The likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi are struggling to catch up and this battery-powered leviathan even dominated serious sportscars on the dragstrip.

It comes with a premium price tag, but then it’s a premium product and Tesla will soon have the Model 3 for the masses. The Model S is a fast, luxurious sedan with a 312-mile range and a serious lick of speed.

Inside, the Model S is a breath of fresh air with clean lines, no discernible instruments and a touchscreen that gives the driver instant access to the whole car. Add the likes of Autopilot, which is a brave step forward towards autonomous cars, and it’s easy to see why the Tesla Model S has stolen this particular show.

The P90D is the one you really want if you’re out to shame the neighbours. It’s a Tesla Model S turned up to 11 with an 90kWh battery, it costs $119,200 and it comes with the infamous ‘Ludicrous mode’ that means it can leave established sportscars trailing in its wake.

If money is no object and you need a brilliant all-round electric car to use on a daily basis, the Tesla Model S is as good as it gets.

Tesla Model S 90D key specs

  • Range: 294 miles (473 km)
  • Battery: 90 kWh
  • Top speed: 155 mph (250 km/h)
  • Torque: 485 lb-ft (658 Nm)
  • Power: 518 hp (386 kW)
  • Weight: 4,938 lb (2,240 kg)

Tesla Model S price

  • $71,200-$119,200

Rimac One

Rimac One, the ultimate electric hypercar

Price: $1 million

Effectively the Bugatti Veyron of the EV world, this 221mph electric car is a way for the 1% to show that you can still be better than everybody else in a zero emissions world.

With four electric motors and four separate gearboxes providing the equivalent of 1088bhp and a ridiculous 1200lb ft of torque, this breathtaking car can hit 60mph in 2.6s and tops out at Veyron-baiting speeds.

An exterior produced almost exclusively from carbon-fiber joins forces with an advanced four-wheel-drive system that uses computer algorithms to distribute force unevenly to keep this rocket in a straight line. The highlights just keep coming with a 4080lb kerbweight, regenerative braking, a carbon-fiber monocoque, carbon ceramic brakes and more.

It’s still a surprise that the car comes from Croatia and there were knowing smiles when it launched to a skeptical motoring press five years ago. A functional prototype has appeared at a number of rounds of the Formula E Championship as the Safety Car, though, and the company claims to have sold six of the 88 cars it intends to build.

The really good new? There’s a Concept S in the works with the electric equivalent of 1365bhp and 1328lb ft of torque. Predictably, it’s going to be faster…

The Rimac isn’t really a car, it’s a technical tour de force that shows the world just what science can do. We have to salute the little company from Croatia, it has really achieved something here.

Rimac Concept One key specs

  • Range: 217 miles (350 km)
  • Battery: 90 kWh
  • Top speed: 220 mph (355 km/h)
  • Torque: 1180 lb-ft (1600 Nm)
  • Power: 1224 hp (912 kW)
  • Weight: 4,188 lb (1,900 kg)

Rimac Concept One price

  • $1 million

Chevy Bolt

GM will actually beat Tesla to the punch with a truly mass market electric car that can crack 200 miles between charges. We will have to wait until late 2017 for the Model 3, at least, but the pure electric Bolt should roll off the production line at the end of this year.

Until then we have the Spark to keep us company. But there’s simply no reason to buy one when the Bolt is ready to raise the bar.

Yes, the company that killed the electric car, according to one high-profile documentary, could be about to take the lead in the EV race.

That’s because the Bolt isn’t meant to be a revolution, it’s an actual car that people can use. It’s the workhorse PC compared to the iPads on offer at Tesla. It’s elegant, but it’s functional and it will consign range anxiety to history. That’s the critical part.

Also, this car is categorically going to be on the road on time. While Tesla has had trouble hitting production targets in the past, GM is a corporate juggernaut that understands product development cycles.

In another ironic twist of fate, the company that went bankrupt in 2009 and was held up as a shining example of American failure in the financial crisis could be the safe bet for cautious customers. Not everybody has bought into Elon Musk and the stock market never seems sure if the Tony Stark of the EV world is going to reign supreme or fall flat on his face.

That can be a big factor for the car buying public, because who will service your car if the company goes pop in a few months’ time?

GM has had its dark days and it’s going to be here. So will the Chevy Bolt and, while it might not be the most exciting EV on the market, it’s going to be one of the best for a good long while.

Chevrolet Bolt EV specs

  • Range: 238 miles (383 km)
  • Battery: 60 kWh
  • Top speed: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • Torque: 266 lb-ft (361 Nm)
  • Power: 200 hp (200 kW)
  • Weight: 3,583 lb (1,625 kg)

Chevrolet Bolt EV price

  • $30,000

Kia Soul

Kia Soul, a stylish and fun EV

Korean company Kia has managed to inject some, well, soul into the EV sector with this cute, diminutive SUV that has won legions of fans around the world.

It’s no rival for the Tesla Model X, but then that’s the point. It’s like an overgrown toy car with its clean, simple lines and the connector at the front with the sliding plate where the grille once was. It offers a fresh look at automotive design, its instantly recognizable and it’s a package that just works.

Kia has always appealed to the budget conscious buyer, but the Soul EV is a departure.

The base model, the EV-e, is only available in California, the rest of the country has to pay $2000 more for the standard EV. It is still relatively cheap and it offers some of the best electric car lease deals you can find with a $199 monthly payment after the initial balloon.

It’s roomy, well equipped for the price bracket and offers the traditional Kia values of economy and solid construction.

It offers a 93-mile range between charges and comes with a fast charge DC port, but the Soul won’t win many awards for truly groundbreaking innovation. What it has done is create a zero emissions car that people actually want to drive. That’s good enough for us.

Kia Soul specs

  • Range: 93 miles (150 km)
  • Battery: 27 kWh
  • Top speed: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • Torque: 210 lb-ft (285 Nm)
  • Power: 109 hp (81 kW)
  • Weight: 3,254 lb (1,476 kg)

Kia Soul price

  • $31,950-$35,950

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X, the ultimate electric SUV

It has seating for seven, gullwing doors and, in P90D spec, it can slay supercars in a straight line. What’s not to love about the Tesla Model X?

This might be Elon Musk’s greatest effort yet. It’s a futuristic design, it has a supremely low drag co-efficient and those doors that open with a button on the fob will simply never get old.

Inside, there are three rows of seats and you basically get a minibus crowbarred into the wheelbase of a crossover SUV. With the largest 90kWh battery pack fitted, it has 250 miles of range. That is enough to get between Supercharger stations in vast swathes of the civilized world these days.

Don’t forget that Tesla had to create the infrastructure, not just the car, and the scale of this achievement is simply towering. The fact that Elon Musk managed to create a selection of killer cars along the way is close to a modern day miracle.

The high-speed ‘Ludicrous Option’ is a $10,000 upgrade and it comes with a special 1500-amp fuse. That means the Model X ploughs all 713lb ft of torque through the wheels and you get a launch control function that means this 5594lb whale can hit 60mph in 3.2s, 100mph in 8.3s and 120mph in 13s.

It’s an irrational package that basically defies physics. We should celebrate the sheer insanity and salute one of the most groundbreaking cars on the road today.

Tesla Model X specs

  • Range: 236 miles (381 km)
  • Battery: 35.8 kWh
  • Top speed: 93 mph (165 km/h)
  • Torque: 713 lb-ft (966 Nm)
  • Power: 328 hp (245 kW)
  • Weight: 5,181 lb (2,350 kg)

Tesla Model X price

  • $81,200-$132,000

Special mention: Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is the entry-level EV that will carry the weight of Elon Musk’s zero emissions campaign on its shoulders.

The Tesla model 3 release date is set for the second half of 2017 and the company wants this car to spearhead its mission to ramp up total production to 500,000 cars and beyond. For that to happen, the Model 3 needs to be a smash hit.

It still boasts the novelty factor. Tesla stuck to his lithium-ion guns when the mainstream motoring world wrote him off as a nut. Now, with the help of the Tesla Gigafactory and the growing momentum of EV motoring, Tesla finds itself at the head of the pack. The Model 3 is a massive step for the company and electric cars in general. It’s the first plug-in EV to go to battle in the highly competitive field that includes established masters like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C Class and Jaguar XE.

Even if Tesla got hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, we still lack crucial details about the device. That’s why we include the Model 3 on our list of best electric cars as a special mention. We hope it will graduate to full membership in just a few months.

Tesla Model 3 specs

  • Range: 215 miles (346 km)
  • Battery: TBA
  • Top speed: TBA
  • Torque: TBA
  • Power: TBA
  • Weight: TBA

Tesla Model 3 price

  • $35,000

Let us know your thoughts! What’s the best electric car out there?

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