Best cordless drills 2019
Which of these powerful cordless drills is our pick for DIY jobs on the car? Read on to find out...
A cordless drill is one of the more useful power tools you can own when working on a car. As well as drilling, it comes into its own as a screwdriver, sander and buffer, plus for wire-brushing, and all without the hassle of a power cable.
Advances in motors and batteries mean most give little away to mains drills. Measured in Amp hours (Ah), a bigger battery gives more running time but costs and weighs more, and with a spare battery you can use one while the other is charging.
A hammer function is useful for household/garage DIY, and limited torque settings help stop damage to screws. A case keeps everything tidy.
How we tested them
We used each product on a number of tough tests, including screwing large screws into wood, drilling into steel and aluminium and wire-brushing, to rate the torque and drain the battery.
Accessories were noted, as were features such as an LED light, case, the number of torque settings, battery number/output and technical spec. A battery condition indicator on the drill was a definite plus. Balance and weight is important, especially for longer tasks. Warranty and price were the final factors.
Hitachi’s cost-effective drill kit balances great performance with two batteries to win. The Ryobi does well first time out, with only a few niggles, and the Wolf 18v is a cracking buy at the price.
- 1. HiKOKI DV18DBFL2/JM Brushless Combi Drill Kit
- 2.Sealey CP20VDDXKIT 20V Brushless Hammer Drill
- 3. Ryobi R18PD3-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Compact Percussion Drill
HiKOKI DV18DBFL2/JM Brushless Combi Drill Kit
Price: Around £150Batteries: 2 x 3AhRating: 5 stars
The name has changed from Hitachi, but the kit remains impressive, with its strong plastic case securing the drill, batteries and charger. We’re yet to test a hammer drill with more than its claimed 70Nm and only the Sealey has a higher no-load speed – although it made no discernible difference.
With a 3Ah battery fitted, it flew through our tests with more charge left than the Sealey. It was comfortable to use, weighing just 1.7kg, and that motor was smooth. Its 22 torque settings were useful when screwing into wood, and the five-minute, high speed wire-brush test was effective. Like the Sealey, its three-year warranty requires registration, but it wins again, by the slimmest of margins.
Sealey CP20VDDXKIT 20V Brushless Hammer Drill
Price: Around £183Batteries: 1 x 4Ah & 1 x 2AhRating: 4.5 stars
Physically similar to the HiKoki, the Sealey weighed a touch more at 1.95kg and had the same head length. The specification was very close, with just one fewer torque setting, a slightly higher no-load speed of 2,000rpm and just a little less torque, at 65Nm.
We found it great to use, with a keyless 13mm steel chuck, a well positioned light and twin speeds. We rated its 6Ah battery capability, divided 4+2 as opposed to the 3+3 of the HiKoki. The canvas bag kept everything together but not as well as a hard plastic case. Three LEDs showed battery life, and it didn’t drop to a single LED until we finished the last test. The price was a stumbling point.
Ryobi R18PD3-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Compact Percussion Drill
Price: Around £149Batteries: 1 x 4AhRating: 4.5 stars
Ryobi’s clever ONE+ system means the battery fits 70-plus cordless tools, economic if you stick to the range. The 50Nm motor impressed, especially as it isn’t brushless, and we liked the drive selector (drill/screw/hammer) lever on top of the motor. There’s no case or bag, which seems odd. This is also the longest and heaviest drill here, at 210mm and 2.1kg, so it’s not as easy to use as some. Our price includes one battery, but at the end of our test, three out of four LEDs were still lit.
Wolf 18v Li-Ion Combi Impact Drill
Price: Around £73Batteries: 2 x 1.5AhRating: 4 stars
Another fine drill from Wolf complete with two batteries at a very sharp price. Even though it isn’t brushless, the motor was very powerful, with a no-load speed of 1,500rpm. Quoted torque was 28Nm, but we had no problems on our tests. The 1.5Ah battery kept the weight down to 1.3kg, helping balance the fairly long 205mm device. It was one of three to come in a soft, padded, rather than plastic, case, which was more fiddly to use and not as protective. No battery condition indicator, but the great price compensated for that.
Panasonic Li-Ion Brushless Combi Hammer Drill kit EY74A2LJ2G31
Price: £264Batteries: 2 x 5AhRating: 4 stars
With the biggest battery on test, the Panasonic weighed 2kg, but this was balanced by fine performance from the 50Nm brushless motor. It spun effortlessly to its max no-load speed of 1,580rpm and a length of just 175mm made the drill easier to use than its weight suggested. It breezed all our tests, making it hard to imagine what you’d have to do to flatten that huge battery; all the LEDs were still shining at the end. With case, hammer action and three-year warranty, it’s a gem, at a price.
Wolf 20v Professional Combi Drill Kit
Price: Around £120Batteries: 1 x 3Ah, 1 x 4AhRating: 4 stars
The only 20v drill on test has two batteries, of different sizes. At 1.9kg with the 4Ah option, it was heavier than its 18v sibling, longer and pricier, but like all the range, has a two-year warranty. The 35Nm motor made light work of all our jobs and still showed two out of three LEDs at the end. We’d niggle at only 16 torque settings and the soft bag, but it swallowed drill, accessories, one-hour charger and both batteries.
Clarke CON18LIC 18V Brushless Combi Drill/Driver
Price: Around £132Batteries: 2 x 2AhRating: 3.5 stars
Our cheapest brushless machine was lighter than the other two, yet has just a 2Ah battery. It matches the Panasonic with 50Nm of torque, so aced the wood screw tests, although we could have used more torque settings; we had to turn to the drill at one point. High max speed of 1,500rpm meant strong wire brushing, and while the battery didn’t go flat, with no LED indicators, we had to guess. Single-year warranty seems mean, too.
GMC GCHD18 18V Combi Hammer Drill
Price: Around £76Batteries: 1 x 1.5AhRating: 3 stars
Well made and comfortable, the 1.6kg GMC has grippy rubber sections on the handle. We liked the LEDs on the single battery and the supplied drill and driver bits. But while you can strap battery and drill into the soft bag, it’s still more fiddly than a case. At the end one LED was lit, and although performance was adequate, its lowest-on-test no-load speed of 1,200rpm meant it was working harder much of the time.
Sealey CP14VLD Li-ion Drill/Driver
Price: Around £48Batteries: 1 x 1.3AhRating: 3 stars
The Sealey was outgunned from the off on paper, with its 14.4v motor and single 1.3Ah power pack. Both were the lowest figures on test, as was the price, but it stacked up well against some serious rivals. Weighing in at just 1.1kg, it was a joy to use and handled the torque-sapping screw tests well. Four minutes into five minutes of wire brushing, the last of three LEDs went out, but a good performance overall and one to consider for the sporadic user.
For more products group test reviews take a look at our accessories and tyres hub page.