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Motoring is expensive enough without having to stump up £15 whenever you drive into central London, too. Fortunately, some vehicles are exempt from it, qualifying for the ‘Cleaner Vehicle Discount’ because they emit less than 75 g/km of carbon dioxide (CO2), meet Euro 6 standards (petrol and diesel vehicles and have a minimum 20 mile zero emission capable range.

However, if you want to drive into the capital but avoid the congestion charge, your best option is to buy an electric car. From 25 October 2021, only battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be eligible for the discount. Then enjoy the discount while it lasts, unfortunately, because the authorities will discontinue it from 25 December 2025.

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Not only are EVs the best cars to avoid the congestion charge, electric vehicles lower your running costsYou can cover long distances before needing to charge them — and charging them can be cheaper than filling up a tank with petrol or diesel fuel. 

So it’s EVs for the win, really! Below we look at some of the best vehicles to stop you from stumping up to pay the congestion charge. First on the list is the Porsche Taycan. 

1. PORSCHE TAYCAN

This powerful, fully electric number from the German performance car giants comes in three different trims – 4S, Turbo and Turbo S — and in the basic 4S trim has a kW rating of 225 kW. The performance battery plus version adds 45 kW to it at 270 kW, which translates into a 5 to 80% charge within 22.5 minutes. You’re also looking at a city driving range of up to 290 miles or, if you go with the performance battery plus, up to 326 miles. 

The acceleration is exhilarating, catapulting you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, so you can zip away from the traffic lights easy peasyThe nicely weighted steering makes it easy to drive and the car handles its weight well, with virtually no body lean unless you really attack a bend. The Taycan also settles comfortably on city roads, making for a comfortable ride around the Big Smoke.  

On top of all this, the car is more spacious inside than you’d imagine, with room for two large adults and, in the boot, space for a pram or a buggy. Who knew? 

Best features:

  • Suitable for everyday use 
  • Fast charging time 
  • Unexpectedly spacious for a high-performance car 

Used prices from £105,000 

2. NISSAN LEAF

The basic spec Nissan Leaf in the entry level Acenta trim takes around an hour to charge between 20% and 80% and its lithium ion battery stores 40 kWh of energy. The LEAF will give you up to 242 miles of city driving before the next charge, so plenty of mileage to nip in and out of the city or take care of errands. 

The LEAF manages 0 to 62 mph in a respectable 7.9 seconds and is a joy to drive. The precise steering makes it easy to thread in and out of the streets and suspension keeps the potholes in check so you don’t feel battered and bruised by the end of your ride.  

As you drive around, you can enjoy tunes from the DAB radio, Apple Carplay or Android Auto and the car also features Bluetooth connectivity. Nissan have equipped the car with safety features such as emergency braking, blind spot detection and lane departure warning, all of which are standard. The manufacturer has also done their homework on boot space, too. Good job, Nissan! 

Best features:

  • Easy to drive
  • User-friendly dashboard controls
  • Respectable space

Used prices from £4,900

3. RENAULT ZOE

The five-seater Renault Zoe with a basic spec R110 engine in the Iconic middle trim has a usable battery capacity of 52 kWh. This handsome hatchback will give you up to 239 miles before the next charge. Charging time for 20 to 80%: 1 hour and 10 minutes. Full charging time: 9 hours 25 minutes at 7 kW from wallbox. 

You’ll enjoy driving the Zoe. The steering is light and precise, which makes navigating the city streets light work, and the overall ride comfort is good, with neither potholes nor smaller imperfections in the road fazing the vehicle too much. Although the car features cruise control and lane assist as standard, some other driver assistance features such as parking assistance are optional.  

The Zoe includes lots of safety features, of course, including electronic stability control (ESC) as standard. The Zoe has plenty of connectivity as well so you can load up some tunes from Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.  

Best features:

  • Consistent ride comfort 
  • Clever use of recycled materials for interior 
  • Good boot space 

Used prices from £5,200 

4. JAGUAR I-PACE

The I-Pace is your chance to be eco-friendly, escape the congestion charge and look the part. Jaguar have equipped the I-Pace with a 90 kWh battery, which can deliver 258 miles or more before its next full charge. That takes around 12.5 hours at 7 kW. Take a 50 kW DC charger and, within an hour, it can charge up to give you 168 miles of range. Sweet. 

The agile I-Pace cuts to the chase, accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. The steering is just the right weight to keep you feeling confident and relaxed while you drive. The car is comfortable and spacious inside, as you might expect, and especially so if you’re in the back. Cruise control is standard as are some other driver-assistance features, although you’ll have to invest a little more if you’re looking for blind-spot detection. 

Best features:

  • Comfortable and spacious inside 
  • Short charging time but long range 
  • Good acceleration 

Used prices from £45,000 

5. TESLA MODEL S

Tesla vehicles have stood out for their mind-blowing acceleration and range. The Model S is no different. The Long Range trim issues 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and 379 miles before the next full charge, whereas the Performance model is slightly quicker off the mark but sacrifices a few miles (but only a few)Power up with one of the Tesla global network’s superchargers and the Model S will give you up to 133 miles in just 15 minutes 

The Model S doesn’t give you much cause for complaints. The steering is quick and accurate, helping to keep this electric saloon nimble on the city streets. The car delivers a smooth, pleasant ride.  

Inside, the large touchscreen controls the lion’s share of the functions inside. While in the vehicle, you can stream media and music across Bluetooth so no one is short on entertainment in this spacious, comfortable vehicle. It’s another hell of an automobile from Tesla. 

Best features:

  • Excellent range 
  • Quick charging time 
  • Comfortable, futuristic interior 

Used prices from £30,000 

6. HYUNDIA IONIQ

The Hyundai Ioniq boasts battery power of 104 kW and a capacity of 38.3 kWh. This family car will charge to 100% at a 7 kW wall box in just over 6 hours and, at a faster 50 kW, to 80% charge in about 57 minutes. It will give you up to 193 miles in a single full charge.  

You can feel this is a vehicle for the city the moment you turn the steering wheel. The steering is light and makes it easy to control the car. The vehicle is stable on the roads and grips them well. You might notice the bumps a little, although it’s not especially uncomfortable. As you hit the motorways, the ride smooths out. 

Inside, Hyundai have chosen quality and comfort over snazzy styling, but this is a spacious car, too. The car features plenty of connectivity, with the Bluelink app, and infotainment opportunities. Hyundai have also equipped the Ioniq with standard driver-assistance features, but you’d have to upgrade to the Premium SE trim for lane follow assist. 

Best features:

  • Designed for city driving 
  • Good quality interior 
  • Handy Bluelink app for connectivity 

Used prices from  £11,000 

7. KIA SOUL EV

The boxy Kia Soul stores up to 64 kWh in its battery and delivers up to 280 miles (but 402 miles of pure city driving) in a single full charge. Nice. On a speedy 50 kW DC charge it’ll give you up to 80% power in 1 hour and 15 minutes, but you can reduce that to 54 minutes with 100 kW. The slower AC 7 kW charge will juice that battery back up in 9 hours and 35 minutes. 

The Soul EV is easy to drive, too, thanks to direct, responsive steering which means the car doesn’t put up a fight on the city roads and you can move agilely. The vehicle might pick up some of the road’s imperfections, but the suspension smothers potholes for a generally comfortable ride.  

Inside, the car is plush and delivers value. There’s lots of infotainment, plus several different safety and driver-assistance features, all as standard. There’s decent space for the driver and the passengers and although extra boot space wouldn’t go amiss, you can still pop your shopping in there no problem.  

Best features:

  • Comfortable ride overall 
  • Generous infotainment 
  • Family vehicle 

Used prices from £10,500 

8. MINI ELECTRIC

One of Britain’s most lovable brands gets its electric show on the road with the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Mini Electric. This agile, energetic hatchback will whip up 0 to 62 mph in a decent 7.3 seconds and the steering doesn’t give you much grief, despite the car’s weightiness. You might feel the imperfections of the road slightly, but you get used to them rather than experience an actively uncomfortable ride.  

Inside, Mini have equipped the car with standard connectivity and infotainment features, including Apple Carplay, navigation system and some of the other usual suspects. Cruise control is also standard, but you’ll have to upgrade to level 2 or 3 for further driver-assistance features.  

The range? Up to 145 miles, according to Mini. Charging at home with a wallbox a7.4 kW, you’ll restore the battery to full health in 3 hours and 12 minutes. In public, on the rapid DC charge at 50 kW, you’ll power up to 80% in 36 minutes. That’s not bad at all. 

Best features:

  • Fast charge 
  • Agile and energetic 
  • Easy to drive 

Used prices from £9,650 

9. HONDA E

The sweet Honda E, in its basic model, gives you up to 137 miles from a single full charge and stores 35.5 kWh in its lithium-ion battery. Needing a rapid charge? Give the car 31 minutes with a 50 kW charger and you’ll be back up to 80%. On a lower, 6.6 kW AC charge at home, it will power back up to 100% in 4.1 hours or, at 2.3 kW, in 18.8 hours. 

You won’t be able to wait to hit the big city in this one. Precise, accurate steering makes it easy to wind in and out of the streets and there’s little body roll, so you feel pretty much in control. The E makes little fuss over bumps, so the ride is relatively comfortable. You can also fall back on driver-assistance features on-hand such as collision prevention, lane assist and more to support you.  

Passenger space is good, but if you’re transporting a buggy in the boot, it will be more comfortable not to have a passenger in the back seat. Meanwhile, you can take your mind off the ride and any spatial issues by enjoying the infotainment features. 

Best features:

  • Generous amount of driver-assistance features as standard 
  • Precise steering for good vehicle agility 
  • Good amount of passenger space 

Used prices from £27,500 

10. POLESTAR 2

The five-seater Polestar 2 is powerful, boasting 400 hp and hitting 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. This hatchback’s battery houses 78 kWh and can deliver up to 292 miles on a single full chargeOn an 11 kW AC charge at home, it powers up in around 8 hours, whereas on a rapid DC 50 kW charge in public it’ll take around 1 hour 20 minutes or, on a superfast 150 kW, 40 minutes.  

If you like your cars simple, you’ll love the Polestar 2. No flashy driving modes. Just press the brake pedal, pop the gear into D and drive. The steering is accurate, not too heavy and the car displays a pleasing lack of body roll, keeping relatively stable on the road, even going in and out of corners. The ride is firm, but you can adjust the suspension to soften it up.  

Inside, the tech is good, with an 11.5 inch touchscreen and offers lots of connectivity and infotainment features as standard. Polestar have also been generous with the safety features they include as standard, including collision mitigation and driver assistance. Ultimately, this EV is a nice little congestion-exempt effort from Polestar. 

Best features:

  • Straightforward to drive 
  • Good acceleration 
  • Lots of safety features as standard 

Want to avoid the congestion charge? Get an electric car and skip it all together. 

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