Range estimates are exactly that - estimates. We show you what you can expect from an EV in the real-world

The advances in EV battery technology and efficiency means that many electric cars are travelling further than on a single charge. 

Range anxiety used to be a big barrier to customers making the switch to battery-powered machines, but even the smallest and most affordable models are capable of 200 miles or so between top-ups. Spend more (quite a lot more) and the distance you’ll travel before you have to plug in can rise to more than 500 miles.

However, while these figures are eye-catching, it’s worth bearing in mind that they are the official numbers generated by the cars submitted to the very prescriptive WLTP testing process. While this is meant to give a more realistic simulation of real world driving it’s still an assessment that’s carried out under laboratory conditions. Once out in the wild and subjected to  different terrains, routes and driving styles, many EVs struggle to come anywhere near to matching these promised figures.

As a result, our sister site What Car? puts every electric car through a range test. Conducted on the road and under realistic conditions, it aims to deliver a far more accurate indication of the range you can expect to achieve when driving day-to-day. So, here are the ten EVs with the longest range that it has tested to date.

1. Hyundai Kona Electric, 259 miles

Leading the charge at the moment is the Hyundai Kona Electric, which returned a very respectable 259 miles on a single charge. What makes this figure particularly impressive is that it was delivered by a car that’s one of the most affordable on this list.

Prices rises and the abolition of the Government’s Plug-in grant means the Korea machine isn’t as cheap as it was, but with the larger 64kWh battery weighs in at just under £38,000. This is mated to a 201bhp motor for smooth and brisk acceleration, while DC charging at up to 100kW means the battery can be replenished from 10 to 80% in under 50 minutes.

Eager performance aside, the Kona isn’t much fun to drive, but it's composed and capable enough. Moreover, its blend of price, generous it count, lengthy five-year warranty and fashionable SUV-inspired styling means it continues to fly out of showrooms.

2. Jaguar I-Pace, 253 miles
As the first European carmaker to release a premium model to challenge the likes of Tesla, Jaguar beat its closest rivals to the punch, while also setting a high bar for them to follow. It is a true driver’s car that happens to be powered by electricity, with impressive amounts of acceleration and the kind of handling you expect from the brand.

With a 90kWh battery powering its twin electric motors, the I-Pace achieves a real-world range of 253 miles. That narrowly puts it into second place behind the Kona Electric, but with support for faster DC rapid charging, it may spend less time plugged into a compatible charging point to regain any lost range.

3. Kia e-Niro, 253 miles

Sharing the second row of the podium with the I-Pace, the recently replaced Kia e-Niro also managed 253 miles of range - despite having a significantly smaller battery than the Jaguar. It shares its powertrain with the Hyundai Kona Electric, but has a slight weight penalty on account of its larger body. The all-new replacement features a similarly-sized battery and claimed range as this mode, so we'd expect it to perform similarly in the real world.

When we road tested the new e-Niro, we were extremely impressed with its usability, refinement and ride quality, while the improvements to the interior and handling made it an even more desirable choice.

4. Tesla Model 3, 239 miles

The long-awaited mainstream Tesla model only recently arrived in the UK, after a year of massive sales success in the USA. The Model 3 is available in Standard  Plus, Long Range AWD specification, plus there’s the Performance model with its BMW M3-baiting power that delivers the  0-60mph sprint in 3.1 seconds and a 162mph top speed. It was this version we tested, with the optional Performance Pack adding larger 20in wheels over the standard, aero-optimised 18in alloys.

In our tests, the Model 3 Performance achieved 239 miles of real-world driving. That puts it beyond the longest range Model X, which costs significantly more, and comfortably ahead of the Audi E-tron electric SUV.

5. Tesla Model X, 233 miles

The second Tesla car to make it to the UK in volume numbers, the Model X combines seven seat practicality with attention-stealing gullwing doors and near-supercar levels of acceleration once the optional Ludicrous Performance mode has been added. It also demands a near £100,000 asking price, making it one of the most expensive EVs on Britain’s roads.

When we tested the X in the now discontinued P100D guise (although it uses a similar size 100kWh battery as the current Long Range model), it managed a competitive 233 miles of range. While this puts it below the very best, Tesla’s supercharger network promises some of the fastest destination charging times currently available in the UK.

6. Nissan Leaf e+, 217 miles

The first generation Nissan Leaf was among the first affordable electric cars, but it wasn't a distance champion. The second-generation model made gains, but it was the e+ version that made the biggest leap, thanks to a 62kWh battery. Compared to the 40kWh battery seen in the regular car, it allows for an extra 90 miles of real-world driving.

The e+ also has more power than the regular leaf, with 214bhp making it much more responsive. It does, however, suffer from a less refined ride than the standard car, so using that extra power through the corners isn't quite as entertaining as it perhaps could be.

7. Mercedes-Benz EQC, 208 miles

Experiments with electric Smart cars and a battery powered AMG SLS sports car aside, the EQC is Mercedes’ first production EV. It’s a premium SUV with familiar yet different styling, so it doesn’t stand out too dramatically from the rest of the Mercedes line-up, and delivers the kind of interior we’ve come to expect from the marque.

An 80kWh battery pack has to power two motors, one for each to produce a combined 402bhp and 561lb ft of torque, giving it more accelerative thrust than either of its two mainstream rivals, the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron. While it has more power than the Jaguar, it depletes its battery faster for everyday driving you can expect to see a typical real world range of more than 200 miles, which narrowly beats the similarly-priced Audi.

8. Audi E-tron, 196 miles

Audi had experimented with electric versions of its existing models before, but the e-tron is the first of a new generation, and potentially one of the brand’s most important cars for years. A recent facelift and name change to Q8 e-tron has now brought the car into line with German firm’s other EVs, but essentially it’s unchanged under the skin.

It’s a luxury SUV first and an EV second, but with styling that doesn’t set it far apart from its combustion-engined stablemates. It is heavy, however, and even though it has a large 95kWh battery pack, drivers can expect a real-world range of around 196 miles. On the plus side, support for 150kW charging  means you won’t spend too long waiting to resume your journey when the cells do run low.

9. Renault Zoe R135, 192 miles

The new generation Zoe arrived with a more powerful powertrain than the original car, which remains in the line-up as a new entry-level model. Exterior styling hasn't changed dramatically, but Renault has made real gains inside the cabin, with elements shared with the new Clio greatly raising perceived quality.

The Zoe's 52kWh battery is officially capable of 238 miles on the WLTP test cycle, but our real-world testing showed the car could manage 192 miles in regular use. That puts it among cars costing significantly more and also makes it one of the few that comes close to matching its WLTP figure.

10. Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus, 181 miles

Tesla’s most attainable model had already proven itself a capable electric tourer in more powerful Performance guise, but this Standard Range Plus model is capable of fewer files between charges. It has one motor powering the rear wheels only, rather than the two found in the Performance version, and it has a smaller battery pack, but it still landed in the upper echelons of distance-driving EVs under our Real Range tests.

Our testing produced a real-world range of 181 miles, putting it ahead of the similarly-priced BMW i3, but behind the capable Hyundai Kona EV and Kia E-Niro.