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Will have focused the attention and got many of us pondering whether now is the time to make the switch to pure electric. Playing to that, expect 2021 to unleash a wave of new EVs from manufacturers of all persuasions, with options to play it safe and simply switch to an electrified version of your regular mid-sized SUV or go for something a little more radical and forward thinking. Here are some to look out for.
Like the Honda e and Mini Electric, the Mazda MX-30 takes a punt on the fact most drivers don’t need masses of range. As well as saving weight and bringing forward the ‘break even’ point where an EV’s carbon footprint improves compared to an equivalent ICE car, the small battery makes the MX-30 more affordable. That’s not the only attractive thing about the MX-30, the crossover stance very on-trend but combined with RX-8 style rear-hinged doors for the back seat passengers, an elegant interior (cork trim a neat reference to Mazda’s origins as a manufacturer of products from the same) and sharp handling all adding up to a very appealing car. A rotary range extender will follow for those needing more than the official 124 miles range.
There’s nothing ludicrous about the VW ID.3, the brand’s conservative mindset meaning it doesn’t fall back on gimmickry with its hugely important all-electric hatchback. Sure, we’ve had electric Golfs before. But the ID.3 shows what a platform designed from the outset for EVs can achieve – namely Passat interior space on a Golf footprint with the turning circle and city agility of an Up. Rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive, VW is drawing inevitable links to the Beetle but that’s about where the similarity ends. At launch you can have a 58kWh battery for around 260 miles of range or a 77kWh one for over 300 miles, both with 204PS. A cheaper, less powerful one with a 45kWh battery will join the range later.
Though it launched with a wacky paint scheme and wheels modelled on three-pin plugs the best thing about the Mini Electric is that it’s exactly what it says on the tin, and in more ‘normal’ colour and wheel combo is just that. An electric Mini. That means the familiar looks and chuckable handling, enough performance to enjoy yourself, squirt through gaps and generally have a bit of a ball, all with the silence and instant torque of an electric car. True, the range isn’t all that impressive. But for minimising the emotional leap from ICE to EV, and maintaining its brand character in the process, Mini has done a cracking job here.
The mainstream car industry has finally woken up to Tesla’s disruptive influence and responded with electric offerings across price points and body styles. The Model 3 should, by the fast-moving pace of things, be yesterday’s news in the EV world but still sets the standard for the ease with which an EV can satisfy the everyday motoring needs of most drivers. Plus a few they didn’t think they didn’t know were necessary, like built-in whoopee cushions. With the standard one offering a 267-mile range, 0-62 in 5.3 seconds it’s already a game changer in family car terms, range over 350 miles and 0-62 in a supercar troubling 3.1 seconds there for the taking in the Performance version. It can even do awesome drifts if you unlock the right mode.
Volvo is another brand where you can plot your own path from pure internal combustion, into plug-in hybrid and then to full electric all within the same model. In all its guises the XC40 is a stylish offering, playing by the SUV/crossover rules in terms of its stance and looks but with a cool, individualistic streak all of its own. ‘Recharge’ branding covers the plug-in hybrid and pure electric versions, the latter of which offers 408PS, 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and a range of just over 200 miles. Pity it costs more than double what an ICE version does, though.
There are plenty more electric Mercedes coming in the not too distant future but for now the Mercedes EQC is your gateway into EV ownership with a three-pointed star on the bonnet. Outwardly a relatively conventional looking SUV with electric rather than internal-combustion power, it seems like damning with faint praise to celebrate the EQC’s conservative approach. But for many people going electric is a big emotional step so the familiarity of the surroundings – and reassurance of Mercedes quality – will help overcome any fears. And that cool sense of competence extends to the way it drives, the 408PS and range of around 250 miles more than enough for most needs.
Bastardisation of a legacy dripping in petrolhead heroism or a logical reimagination of all ‘Mustang’ stands for in the electric age? The conversation will likely continue for some time yet but Ford’s adoption of the name and styling cues of its famous muscle car for an electric SUV are sure to please mainstream buyers not hung up on a history of V8s and tyre smoke. It certainly sets up a fascinating showdown between Detroit and the new tech of Silicon Valley, the Mach-E seemingly going for Tesla’s jugular in terms of performance, range and attainability. Enough to inspire a ‘Ford Versus Elon’ movie as a sequel to the one against Ferrari some way down the line? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
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