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The Most Affordable Cars to Run in 2023

By Tim Barnes-Clay | November 22, 2022

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As the world emerged from lockdowns and restrictions, fuel prices – which had been at their lowest for many years – surged following a massive increase in demand.

The Most Affordable Cars to Run in 2023

As the world emerged from lockdowns and restrictions, fuel prices – which had been at their lowest for many years – surged following a massive increase in demand.

The Ukraine war has exacerbated this, with prices touching £2.00 per litre in places – and they’re still not much below that now in some parts of the UK.

In addition, the war has caused electricity prices to soar dramatically, which may be enough to put off potential electric car owners.

But, although electric vehicles (EVs) are still significantly more expensive to buy outright than a petrol or diesel car, it’s still more cost-effective to run an EV day-to-day.

Yes, we know, life's not a bowl of cherries for anyone right now, and, as we've already said, electricity prices have spiked. In fact, now, with the cost cap, most of us are being charged 34p per kWh for electricity in the UK. But running an all-electric car such as a BMW iX3 SUV will still save you money compared with, say, a petrol X3 for a driver doing 10,000 miles a year.

Even in the middle of these exceptional times, EV recharging is still less expensive than filling up with fossil fuel.

Sure, it can work out more costly to recharge your vehicle than refueling with diesel or petrol when using a super-fast charger at motorway services. But charging at a leisurely AC charger, particularly with a subscription, will cost only a small proportion of what you shell out at the pumps.  

It is also worth taking into consideration that many electric vehicles are recharged at private charging stations – i.e., at work or home. And this method of electric charging is, by and large, the most economical of all.

Figures from Manual Directory took into account average fuel costs, car tax and emission zone charges to list some of the cheapest cars to run.

All of the ones to make our list are electric – and, interestingly, not one is a Tesla.

1. Kia Niro EV

The compact crossover SUV comes exceptionally well equipped with a modern interior and a 285-mile range from its 64.8kWh battery. It is not massively fun to drive, though, and the asking price of the higher-trimmed models is pushing it into the territory of its sportier sibling, the Kia EV6.

2. Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Mach-E is a good car with a sizeable 379-mile range if you opt for the biggest 88kWh battery. Plus, it's well-equipped and terrific to drive. But, admittedly, the Mustang badge is more of an excuse to justify the price tag as, other than the power of the dual-motor all-wheel drive version, it isn't like a traditional Mustang in any comparable way.

3. Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500e has a range of up to 199 miles if you opt for the larger 42kW battery, and it comes full of kit. Interestingly, the petrol Fiat 500 is still on sale, but only the 500e has been overhauled with updated looks. It has some drawbacks, though, such as rear windows, which don't open.

4. Kia EV6

A joy to drive with credible sporting prowess and poke, the EV6 is set to become a thorn in the side of performance production cars, with 226 and 321PS versions offered. Built on the same platform as Hyundai's Ioniq 5, it offers a 328-mile range from its 77.4kWh battery, virtually unrivalled charging speeds and a seven-year warranty.

5. Citroen e-C4

The electric C4 comes with a 45kWh battery with a 217-mile range, which is practical, comfortable and easy to drive, albeit short on thrills. The cabin is decent and reasonably well-furnished but not luxurious, while its rivals are better to drive and can go further on a single charge.

6. Vauxhall Mokka-e

The newly overhauled Mokka was the first car to be given the new Vauxhall style, complete with a heavily revised front end with the latest design signature panel grille, the Vauxhall Vizor. It comes well equipped with a 45kWh battery and a 209-mile range. It is a justly desirable option for those wanting a small SUV.

7. BMW iX1

BMW's iX1 is an X1 with the engine replaced by an electric motor. But that means it's based on a proven recipe: fast, good to drive and well-refined with a pleasing interior. The Bimmer claims a range of 270 miles from its 64.7kWh battery, while dual electric motors have an impressive 317PS.

8. Porsche Taycan

If you can make do without one obvious thrill in a Porsche – the engine note – then the Taycan is an excellent option, with lightning acceleration, superb handling, and a high level of refinement. Options include a 750PS variant with a 0-60mph time of 2.7-seconds with a 93kWh battery while retaining a range of 291 miles. You will need to make do with the tiniest of boots, though.

9. Hyundai Kona EV

With a 300-mile range from its 64kWh battery, the Kona is great for long distances and provides outstanding performance and practicality, backed up by a five-year warranty. However, some of its foes offer nicer interiors and a more comfortable ride. That said, it’s very well kitted out, and a smaller 39kWh battery is also available.

10. Volvo XC40 Recharge

The all-electric Volvo XC40 is an admirable all-rounder, offering outstanding performance, superb practicality for a small SUV, and a choice of 67kWh and 75kWh batteries with a range of around 260 miles. Volvo is a premium brand nowadays – it's capable of giving the German giants like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz a run for their money. But sadly, that's reflected in the price.

So, the list of electric cars continues to grow – and it’s clear they are cheaper to run, despite the rising cost of electricity.

The main downside is the additional purchase price, but servicing costs should be meagre, too. And if you're a long-distance driver, you'll recoup that extra investment quickly.

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