This year has proved to be a bit of a watershed moment in the Australian car market. After a slow start, manufacturers are finally committing to bringing more pure EVs to Australian shores.
Manufacturers have been hesitant to bring new EVs here because of the government's failure to legislate against the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars. But the ACT’s recent announcement that the sale of new ICE-powered cars will be banned in 2035.
And the Future Fuels and Vehicle Strategy's commitment to spending $250 million to develop additional charging infrastructure has encouraged manufacturers to prioritise putting more pure EVs on sale in Australian car showrooms.
So Aussie car buyers now have a much more exciting choice of electric vehicles to choose from. But with so many vehicles now available, which one should you buy? Here we’ll review the top 9 best electric cars available in Australia in 2022.
The Tesla Model 3 is the best-selling electric car in Australia. Prices start at $65,500 for the standard RWD model rising to $88,900 for the AWD flagship. Not surprisingly, the base model is the most popular. This delivers a respectable 190kW/375Nm and promises a range of 491km.
Outside, the Model 3 has a jelly mould appearance, which lacks character. But climb inside and you’ll be greeted by an airy cabin, courtesy of a large panoramic glass roof. On the road, the Tesla is a bit of a disappointment. The steering lacks feel and the ride is uncompromisingly hard, but if it's range and value you’re after, the Tesla can't be beaten.
Lots of safety tech
Comprehensive charging infrastructure
Limited backseat head and leg room
The Polestar 2 is a medium-sized sedan designed to take on the Tesla Model 3. It comes in three variants with prices starting at $59,900 for the imaginatively named ‘standard’ model and rising to $69,900 for the Long Range Dual motor model. A long-range single motor model sits in the middle, priced at $64,900.
From the outside, there is no mistaking this is a member of the Volvo family. The styling is crisp and modern, while the cabin is stylish. On the road, the ride is supremely quiet and refined as you would expect from an EV. But back-seat space is tight and, surprisingly for a Volvo, some vital safety kit is only available as an option.
Serene driving experience
Classy minimalist styling
Good real-world range
Back seat space limited
Some basic safety tech is missing
Pricey options list
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The EV6 is Kia's attempt to take on Tesla. Prices start at a rather steep $79,590, which puts it firmly in the premium segment. For that, you get a 168kW/350Nm motor that drives the rear wheels. When combined with its 77.4kWh long-range battery, Kia promises a substantial range of 504km. But in the real world, you can expect around 400km.
Outside, Kia has taken the opposite approach to Tesla, as the car has a unique futuristic appearance. While inside, the interior is spacious and comes well equipped. But some materials feel cheap, especially when you consider the price tag. On the road, the handling is safe but unremarkable. This is a good first effort but not groundbreaking.
Lots of safety tech
Long waiting lists
Styling won’t be to everyone's taste
4. Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Ioniq 5 is the first car built on the Korean brand's dedicated EV platform. Two models are available at launch. The base model uses a single 160kW/350Nm motor driving the rear wheels and is priced at $71,900. The AWD version, priced at $75,900, is powered by two motors, a 155kW/350Nm at the front and a 70kW/255Nm motor at the rear.
This represents a new direction for Hyundai, and the styling reflects that. The exterior design is ultra-chic and timeless, and the modern theme continues inside, with a clean, minimalist cabin. On the road, the chassis is engaging and exciting without being too racy. This is a great car, but supplies are limited, so be prepared for a long wait.
Superb build quality
Range is limited
Poor infotainment system
Long waiting list
The Volvo XC40 Recharge is based on an internal combustion engine chassis, which should compromise it against some pure EVs. But in the real world, you won’t notice any difference. Prices start at $76,990 which is a lot, but the performance and excellent range from the 150kW/330Nm should compensate for that somewhat.
Outside, the XC40 Recharge looks the same as the ICE-powered version. Inside, the cabin will be familiar to all Volvo drivers - the materials have a premium feel, there’s lots of space and the seats are comfortable. On the road, the car has a firm ride but the steering is well weighted. This is a safe choice for those looking to make their first EV purchase.
Ride is firm
Noisy considering it’s an EV
Much like the Volvo XC40, the BMW iX3 is based on the X3 ICE-powered version and it even has space for the exhaust pipes. That’s no bad thing though because the X3 is one of the best mid-size SUVs on the market. But it needs to be because prices start at $114,900 plus on-road costs, which places it firmly in the ultra-competitive premium segment.
For that, you get the standard stylish X3 body with some neat styling cues unique to the electric version. Power comes from a 210kW/400Nm motor which drives the rear wheels and provides adequate performance. BMW promises a range of 460km, which is pretty close to what you can expect in the real world.
Lots of safety equipment
7. MG ZS EV
The MG ZS holds the title of Australia’s cheapest electric car. Prices start at just $44,990, and for that, buyers get a fully loaded compact SUV complete with a powered sunroof, driver assistance technology and Apple CarPlay support. The car is powered by a single 105kW/353Nm motor that drives the front wheels.
Styling-wise, the ZS looks like a facsimile of a Mazda CX3. It’s a good-looking car, but not exactly original. Inside the cabin is spacious and comes well equipped. But some of the plastic feels cheap. On the road, the handling is responsive, but a little harsh over bumps. The range is also limited to 263km, so this is best suited as a city runabout.
Find Out More About Australia's Cheapest EV: MG ZS EV
Ride a bit harsh
Some materials feel cheap
8. Lexus UX300e
The Lexus UX300e is the first fully electric Lexus, but it's based on the UX ICE platform so it's not a ground-up new design. The UX300e is a compact SUV, powered by a 150kW/300Nm motor that drives the front wheels. Prices start at $74,000 which is $20,000 more than the ICE-powered UX it’s based on.
Inside the UX300e is indistinguishable from other UXs. The cabin is well equipped, the infotainment system ticks all the boxes and even comes with a CD player, a bit of a novelty these days. On the road, the baby Lexus is quiet and refined. But with a range of just 360km, it’s difficult to justify the premium over the ICE models.
Poor value for money
This is the second BMW on the list, but the Xdrive 50 is a very different beast from the iX3. The iX Xdrive 50 is BMW's first purpose-built fully electric SUV. So it has none of the ICE compromises of the iX3. The Xdrive 50 is the range-topping model that comes with a single 385kW/765Nm motor that drives all four wheels.
Styling-wise there is no mistaking this is a BMW. The front is dominated by huge oversized kidney grilles, which give the car a menacing appearance. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a beautifully executed interior. But with a range of just 420km and a price tag of $169,900 the iX feels overpriced and short on range.
Nice to drive
There is a misconception that electric cars are boring and lack character. The above list proves that EVs are fun to drive, cheaper to run and more practical than their ICE-powered cousins. Park any of the above SUVs on your driveway and you’ll wonder why you took so long to make the switch.
Electric cars are the future, and if the above list is anything to go by, the future looks bright.