Best used electric cars 2021

Want to get in on the electric car revolution, but have a lower budget? Here are our best used electric cars 2021

Millions of car buyers are now considering if an electric car could work for them. These models are all the rage - they produce no emissions at the roadside, are ultra-quiet and performance can be incredibly impressive. There are more and more electric cars available these days but new models are expensive - so why not consider one of our best used electric cars instead?

A used electric car could be an even better buy than a used petrol or diesel car, as EVs are proving to be very reliable so far, with fewer moving parts and less to go wrong. They also tend to do fewer miles in the same amount of time, so there are some used electric cars out there that are like new even at a few years old.

An electric car needs to work for you. If you can charge up at home and don't tend to do lots of motorway trips, they're perfect. Charging at home can mean ultra-low running costs that no petrol or diesel car can dream of getting close to, and of course there are plenty of environmental benefits as well.

If you've never tried an electric car, take a test drive in one of our examples below. Every car we've picked is a great example of the electric car breed, with punchy performance that could change your mind about this new kind of transport.

Read on to find out our picks of the best used electric cars for 2021...

Best used electric cars to buy

  1. Volkswagen e-Golf
  2. Nissan Leaf
  3. Tesla Model S
  4. Renault Zoe
  5. Kia e-Niro
  6. BMW i3
  7. MG ZS EV
  8. Volkswagen e-up!

1. Volkswagen e-Golf - Used Electric Car of the Year

Manufacturers have taken one of two approaches when pitching their new EVs. Some have chosen to go radical – to produce something that looks and feels like nothing else, in order to sell the technology in a new and exciting light. And some brands choose to offer buyers something that seems familiar, in order to reassure buyers that even though the fuel comes from a plug rather than a pump, it’ll still slip into everyday life. VW has gone for the latter – it doesn’t want to alienate customers new to electrification. 

This approach has worked brilliantly with the e-Golf. Here’s an electric car that doesn’t shout about its zero-emission tech – only the most eagle-eyed VW fans will notice the blue highlights and aerodynamic alloys that set it apart from the standard petrols and diesels. 

At launch, the e-Golf had a 113bhp electric motor driving the front wheels, and energy came from a 24.2kWh battery. Early models have a 118-mile official range, although in the real world 100 miles is more realistic. That’s more than enough to function as a second car in a household, or as a daily commuter – exactly the conditions under which it excels. Updates in 2017 pushed these numbers to 134bhp and 35.8kWh respectively. This brought slightly improved acceleration and, crucially, a 185-mile official range.

The e-Golf is smooth, silent and very easy to drive; in congestion it’s so much more relaxing than a combustion car. Yet it keeps the usual Golf Mk8 perks of a spacious cabin, well built dashboard and slick infotainment. 

Earlier models start from around £14,000, and because of the type of journeys they do, mileages tend to be low. We found a 2015 e-Golf with just 21,000 miles on the clock for a smidge under £15,000.

BuyaCar finance options

The e-Golf makes for a well priced EV, and it is even more affordable on PCP finance through BuyaCar.co.uk, with monthly payments of £290 based on a £2,000 deposit. It means a 15-plate example such as the one we found should cost less than £12,500 overall on finance, excluding final payment. Factor in super-low running costs, and there are few ways of accessing cheaper motoring than with this excellent used car.

See the latest Volkswagen e-Golf prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

2. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is the best way to get into an electric car with a very limited budget. You can pick up early models for around £5,000, which is a great price for a reliable, comfortable commuter car that will cost very little to run.

Long trips won't be a good idea as the early Leaf could only go about 80 miles on a charge. That's more than enough for the daily commute, though, and it's great for city dwellers with access to a charge point.

The Leaf sold well and was one of the first proper electric cars on sale, so there are a good number for sale second hand. Don't be put off by high mileage, but there's enough choice that you can usually find a low-mileage model at a good price.

See the latest Nissan Leaf prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

3. Tesla Model S

You'll pay around £30,000 for a used Tesla Model S, which might sound like a lot - but a used Model S is a fantastic choice. This is the car that made electric motoring premium, and forced rival manufacturers to build their own upmarket EVs. It’s a desirable machine with amazing tech, great usable range and superb performance for the price.

There are a few different versions to pick from, but you'll see mostly 85 models at this budget, which has a range of over 260 miles. That's plenty for most users, and the Tesla Supercharger network around the country means long trips are no bother.

The Tesla is good to drive, and while build quality could be an issue - even new models suffered from this, let alone cars with over 100,000 miles on the clock - the Tesla powertrain should prove to be reliable.

See the latest Tesla Model S prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

4. Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe is a great choice if you have a tight budget, as it's easy to find cars for less than £10,000. The Zoe is a supermini with around 100 miles of range in basic form, which is good for commuters who live in a city or town and can charge at home or at work.

The Zoe's funky looks and stylish interior mean there's plenty to like about it, and the punchy low-speed performance injects some fun into an otherwise dreary commute. It's reliable and comfortable, so make a good used buy at the lower end of the market.

Look out for models with battery lease. On these cars you have to pay a monthly fee to rent the battery packs from Renault, which was a way of keeping costs down for new owners. Some cars have this attached - it's not too expensive - and some don't, so do your research.

See the latest Renault Zoe prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

5. Kia e-Niro

The Kia e-Niro is one of the best electric cars around, and that's even more true when buying used. Kia's seven-year warranty will still have plenty of time left on all used versions as the car isn't very old - not that reliability should be an issue.

A range of around 280 miles is very impressive for the e-Niro, and it achieves this by being really efficient. We found that the e-Niro is one of the most efficient EVs around, making good use of its modest 64kWh battery. It even keeps consumption low on the motorway, where most EVs tend to use a lot of juice.

The e-Niro is also practical, comfortable and packed with kit. The infotainment system is excellent and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, plus the interior, while a bit dull, feels robust and pleasant to sit in.

See the latest Kia e-Niro prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

6. BMW i3

The i3 is one of the most advanced EVs ever. Its carbon-fibre safety cell means it’s fairly light, so performance is impressively rapid, especially in town. The ride is on the firm side, but if you focus on the positives – such as the futuristic looks of the cabin – the i3 looks like a great used EV buy.

Be aware of the different versions of the i3. There's a pure electric version as well as the Range Extender, or Rex as some call it. This model has a small engine that can charge the battery as you drive. It's a good way to avoid range anxiety. Basic electric models have an 80-mile range and Range Extenders can travel 150 miles with a full tank of fuel and a full battery.

The i3 is one of the best electric cars because it's cheap at around £10,000 used, yet has an interior that looks like it came from a £50,000 car. It's spacious enough and fun to drive, so appeals to drivers who love great engineering and innovative cars.

See the latest BMW i3 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

7. MG ZS EV

The MG ZS with a petrol engine is not a good buy, as it's noisier, more uncomfortable and worse to drive than all its rivals. Yet the ZS EV makes a lot more sense, because it's one of very few electric SUVs for around £18,000 with less than 10,000 miles on the clock.

It has the practicality of a mid-size SUV yet costs much less than something similar like a Kia e-Niro, which is why it's a good used buy. The electric motor means it's quieter, faster, cheaper to run and better to drive than petrol-powered ZS models, so it's a much better car overall.

It has a range of around 160 miles, which is rather good considering the price, and it has a good amount of kit such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system is a bit lacking, though, and the interior feels cheap even for a low-cost car.

See the latest MG ZS EV prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

8. Volkswagen e-up!

The Volkswagen e-Up is a small city car with a range of about 80 miles (later cars from 2019-on can go for about 160 miles as they have a larger battery, but are more expensive). This means it's good for those who live close to work and need a small, fun car that can get them to work in silent comfort.

It's more practical than it looks, as the Up is roomy for a city car, and the interior feels more upmarket than you'd expect, too. It's hardly the lap of luxury but the materials look good next to other cheap EV options such as the MG ZS EV and the early Nissan Leaf.

The e-Up is nimble and fun to drive, as it's one of the lightest cars on this list, and it's pretty efficient as well - though the small battery might put some off. It drives very much like a normal Up, which is to say it's fun, comfy and easy.

See the latest Volkswagen e-Up prices on our sister site BuyaCar...

Find out more about the best used cars you can buy in each market sector with our Used Car Awards...

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