Whereas electric cars of bygone years looked and sounded like sewing machines on wheels, times have really changed. They are now practical, fast out the blocks, beautifully styled and, perhaps most importantly, deliver excellent driving ranges between charges.
With more and more manufacturers moving towards electrification and still keeping an eye on the ever-popular SUV segment, which continues to grow at a rapid pace, we are seeing a dramatic surge in the number of electrified SUVs coming to market.
And with their zero carbon emissions output, there is excellent financial rewards and tax savings for business drivers.
We are looking at three premium big hitters and seeing what they offer newcomers to the EV scene. They are the BMW iX, Mercedes EQC and Audi e-tron. We investigate key areas such as cost, practicality, efficiency and any current offers.
The BMW iX is on sale in several trim levels and with varying power outputs. The xDrive40 with a combined output of 326hp and a driving range of up to 257 miles costs from £69,905 in entry-level Sport. And the xDrive50, producing 523hp with a range of up to 380 miles in high-end M Sport Ultimate, costs £115,695. This car can complete the 0-62mph dash in 4.6 seconds.
The Mercedes EQC was the German carmaker’s first standalone electric vehicle and costs from £70,035 for the EQC Sport. The range-topping EQC 400 AMG Line 4MATIC Premium Plus costs from £78,925 and boasts a combined output of 408hp and 760Nm of torque, meaning it can power its way from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds and maxes out at 111mph. It has a driving range of 255 miles between charges.
The Audi e-tron is a nicely packaged model with a driving range of up to 252 miles. The entry-level Technik version costs from £62,785 while range-topping Vorsprung rolls in at £95,685. The 0-62mph sprint is completed in 5.7 seconds on more powerful 55 quattro models and top speed is limited to 124mph.
Since the first SUV arrived on the motoring scene, its popularity has gone from strength to strength. They are practical five-door, five-seaters that offer plenty of space for the family with ample storage room too.
The BMW iX, like most rivals, has its battery pack positioned beneath the floor which not only means interior space remains uncompromised, it also results in a lower centre of gravity to help keep the car nicely balanced on the road.
The boot, which is accessed via a powered tailgate, can accommodate 500 litres of luggage and that capacity increases to 1,750 litres when the split-folding rear seats are dropped flat.
Similarly, the boot on the stylish Mercedes EQC has a powered tailgate. This car can also swallow 500 litres of luggage, but has a lower 1,460-litre capacity with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats folded forward.
Finally, the Audi e-tron also has a powered tailgate that opens very wide and the 605-litre boot can be increased to a whopping 1,755 litres with seats dropped flat.
By adding electrification to the mix, buyers are also looking at the practicality of charging, and of course driving range.
The BMW iX xDrive40 can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in just 31 minutes via a fast charger with an extra 90 miles of range added in 10 minutes. The iX xDrive50 does take a few minutes longer but has the additional driving range.
When it comes to the day-to-day practicalities, the EQC can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes using a fast charger or from 10 to 100 per cent in 11 hours via a home wallbox which will be cheaper especially as there are lower tariffs at night on some electricity supplier’s policies.
The e-tron can be charged via a home wallbox or public chargers. A fast charge can boost the levels to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes while it will be roughly nine hours at home.
The BMW iX xDrive 40 M Sport is available on PCP with a deposit of £8,862 followed by 47 monthly payments of £959 with an optional final payment of £30,892. The OTR price would be £73,700 but if the PCP offer is taken, customers would pay a total fee of £84,828. This also comes with a limited 10,000 miles per year.
The EQC 400 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus has an OTR price of £76,640. A deposit of £13,937 would be followed by 48 payments of £961 and a final optional purchase payment of £3,125. This would result in a total PCP cost of £93,239. Once again, the annual mileage on this offer is limited to 10,000 miles.
While the Audi PCP offers website was temporarily out of action, we found a main dealer PCP offer on the e-tron 55 Sport 300kW. The deposit would be £15,000 with a £1,200 contribution from Audi. There would be 48 monthly payments of £859 and a final optional payment of £28,286. The OTR price is £74,775 but the PCP price would be £84,540.
The BMW and Mercedes PCP offers were available from the manufacturer’s own websites, but there is all manner of deals across the trio of cars at various dealerships, so it’s certainly worth shopping around.
So, which takes your fancy?
All three models offer very similar pricing, practicality and performance stats, so it will be down to individual preference. Some customers are faithful to BMW, while others would never deviate from Audi or Mercedes. There is very little to choose between them and driving ranges, power outputs and the general charging infrastructure are all improving at a rapid pace.