Can the latest electric cars handle the best scenic drives in the UK?

It’s fair to say that hybrid and electric cars have been dominating the new car market recently, with sales increasing up to, and over, 200% in selected categories compared to last year. Meaning that electric and hybrid cars now account for 30% of all new car registrations within the UK.

 

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But still one of the biggest concerns from prospective car buyers is driving range for fully electric vehicles and what does the estimated range really mean in terms of real-life driving. With more Brits looking to staycation this year for their summer holidays, there are plenty of areas to discover and some of the best scenic driving routes in the world.


So how will some of the best new electric cars to hit the market handle the travel expectations of British holidaymakers on a single charge?


We’ve handpicked some of our favourite new releases and matched them with the best scenic routes in the UK.


The Causeway Coastal Route in the Volvo C40 Recharge


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Beginning in Belfast, this 120-mile journey will give you a taste of the beautiful sights that Northern Ireland has to offer. Taking in a mix of iconic attractions along the way from the Titanic Belfast in the city centre to the Dark Hedges of Ballymoney – one for Game of Thrones fans – and the fairy tale location of Glenarm Castle. This route takes in long sea views, dramatic hills and luxurious landscapes. The highlight of the trip is the Giants Causeway, a geological wonder known around the world. Enjoy the various walking trails and clifftop experience, or simply enjoy the views. Finish your trip at the historic city of Derry (Londonderry), where you can explore the 400-year-old city walls and even enjoy a Derry Girls themed afternoon tea.


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For this journey, we’ve selected the all-new, state-of-the-art, fully electric Volvo C40 Recharge. It has a range of 260 miles on a single charge and 402 BHP. It’s no surprise that the brand has invested heavily into the production of this new model and signals its clear direction into the future of its models following on from their announcement that they will only produce full-electric models from 2030. Built from the building blocks of the XC40, it is more lightweight and with a sleeker more futuristic feel. Inside it’s all about light and space with lots of glass and a panoramic roof – all the better to enjoy the scenery around you. There’s also plenty of room inside for 4 adult passengers meaning you can enjoy the trip with friends in comfortable surroundings.


Route distance: 120 miles


Driving range on a single charge: 260 miles


The Atlantic Highway in the Volkswagen ID.3


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The journey along the Atlantic Highway begins in the Devonshire town of Barnstaple ending in Newquay, taking the A39, one of the longest roads in the UK. As the name suggests, you’ll be able to take in stunning views across the Atlantic as you pass through areas such as Bude, Camelford and Wadebridge. Immerse yourself in history with a stop off at Tintagel Castle which is linked to the legend of King Arthur. Or you can explore the various beaches that Bude has to offer whilst enjoying a Cornish cream tea. You’ll also pass through various fishing villages such as Port Isaac, famously known as the filming destination for the popular British TV show, Doc Martin. Not too far from the route is Stonehenge if you fancy a detour on your journey – don’t’ worry, you’ll have plenty of driving range left. Finish your journey in Newquay and catch some waves or continue on for a trip to Land’s End, the westernmost tip of Cornwall, for some amazing panoramic views.


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If you’re a bit sceptical about electric cars, then the Volkswagen ID.3 should hopefully change your mind. Perfectly designed and priced with families in mind as an affordable electric option. It’s small enough for city driving but with plenty of space for those longer family expeditions. It’s available in 3 battery pack options, allowing for driving ranges on a single charge from 217 miles up to 342 miles. Don’t be deterred by the base model, it will still feel quite rapid, reaching 62mph in just 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. Compared to its rivals like the Renault Zoe and BMW i3 it’s slightly larger too. Thanks to the slightly raised floor, you sit a little higher than you would in a Golf and there’s a standard-fit 10-inch centre-dash infotainment screen with intuitive voice recognition. Volkswagen’s latest natural voice control system also features, enabling you to ask the car virtually anything as long as you preface it by “Hello Volkswagen”. Overall, a very sensibly priced family sized EV.


Route distance: 77 miles


Driving range on a single charge: 217 miles


The Cotswolds Countryside in the Jaguar I-PACE


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Fancy village hopping in the Cotswolds? Bask in the glory of miles and miles of glorious countryside with this road trip starting from Chipping Campden and following signs on to Broadway, then head south on your way to Bath. Hop from village to village throughout the Cotswolds, each one prettier than the next. Visit the local pubs for a soft drink, peruse the independent shops and if you’re lucky enough to time it right, visit some of the many festivals that take place throughout the year, from food festivals to country shows. If you’re a confident driver, try opting to travel without your Sat Nav and let the villages guide you. Finally end your trip in Bath, exploring the historic architecture and of course, the famous Roman Baths.


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Jaguar was one of the first premium car brands to enter a fully battery-powered vehicle that has a long, practical range, into the market. Of course, with that, comes the hefty price tag of around £65,000, so if you want to explore the Cotswolds in style then this is the car for you. This car can easily handle itself on a racetrack so tackling the narrow country roads shouldn’t be a problem. Pinpointing its style can be tricky, anywhere from a compact SUV, coupe or even sports car. Inside, Jaguar are big on comfort as well as luxury, with options of a full leather interior and wood trim. It’s not just the range that is impressive too, with Jaguar claiming an 80% charge capacity in less than 45 minutes, so if you do need to top up, it won’t take long.


Route distance: 70 miles


Driving range on a single charge: 300 miles


The wild peaks of Wales in the Hyundai Kona Electric


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If you’re looking for a road trip with a side of adventure, then there’s nothing like taking a tour through Snowdonia National Park. This journey will include views of mountains, moors, coastline, villages and waterfalls, something for everyone. If you fancy tackling Snowdon itself, the A4086 will take you right past it. But if you don’t fancy tackling it on foot, did you know you can take the train?


Experience a little bit of magic by stopping off at the little village of Portmeirion, designed and built between 1925 and 1975 in the style of a quaint Italian village. With little cottages, stylish shops and plenty of places to eat, it makes a perfect pit stop. Now head south, go dolphin spotting at New Quay, head to the beach in Barmouth and continue along the Pembrokeshire coast discovering even more hidden beaches along the way.


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For our second longest route on our list, we’ve chosen to pair up with the Hyundai Kona Electric, and with a driving range of 189 miles, it can safely handle this journey. But you can also upgrade to the 64kWh version with a comfortable 300-mile driving range. For those drivers still concerned with ‘range anxiety’, the Kona Electric comes with mapping functionality that integrates into range read-outs and helps you to locate nearby charging stations. Aside from the sleek, stylish design, the driving range is the big selling point here, offering a range that normally would require a premium price band.


Route distance: 150 miles


Driving range on a single charge: 189 miles


Part of the North Coast 500 in the BMW iX


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It would be hard to exclude the North Coast 500 from our list, despite the 516-mile round trip and the struggle to find an electric car that could handle the full journey on one charge. But it would be hard to expect any car to cope with the journey even on a full tank of fuel. Scotland’s answer to Route 66 showcases the best the country has to offer, exploring the Highlands and its castles, beaches and landmarks. It begins and ends in Inverness, it covers 6 regions from the Black Isle famous for its rich farmland and popular food and drink scene, to Caithness, the most northern county in Britain. Our longest route on the list also means the longest duration, with those looking to tackle it taking up to 7 days to properly enjoy and see as much as possible. On your way, you will discover some of the most remote beaches in Europe such as Dornoch Beach and the white sand and turquoise waters of Achmelvich Beach.


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To tackle this monster of a journey, we needed a car that had one of the biggest driving ranges possible, as well as a model with extreme comfort both inside for passengers and driving comfort. It also had to be sturdy enough to tackle different terrains and turn a few heads at the same time. Enter the BMW iX, a large luxury SUV that can easily compete with the likes of the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC. For the maximum driving range, you’ll need to opt for the higher end 105.2 kWh model that can get up to 62 mph in just 4.7 seconds.


Because there’s no need for a radiator, the front grille houses the drive assistance system’s cameras, radars and sensors. Inside, there’s an airy, futuristic-feeling cabin characterised by a flat floor, recycled materials and a rather odd-looking hexagonal multi-function steering wheel. Space in the back is generous, with lots of head and legroom. The xDrive50 has 200kW charging capability that’ll deliver 75 miles of driving for every 10 minutes of charging. Both iX variants can be charged from 10% to 80% capacity in under 40 minutes and on average, use around 21kWh of electricity per 62 miles travelled. If any electric car can tackle the NC500, it’s the BMW Ix.


Route distance: 516 miles


Driving range on a single charge: 380 miles


 


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