As we slowly ease out of lockdown, commuters are trading public transport for bikes and cars to avoid exposure to coronavirus. So we asked Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader, to give us a low down on the top 10 cars that'll guarantee a cosy ride to work
Concerns about catching coronavirus on public transport mean that 56 per cent of commuters who hold driving licences but travelled to work by train, bus or tube before the virus outbreak are now looking to buy a car.
Here’s our pick of the best cars for the daily commute. The majority are electrified – either pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, because most daily round-trip commutes are short enough to fall within the 30-mile electric-only range of a plug-in hybrid, and certainly short enough to be covered by the 200-plus mileage of an electric car.
But the higher prices of electric cars and the need to install a home charger won’t suit everyone, so we’ve also included some petrol and diesel options, and some small SUVs because plenty of town drivers like a higher seating position.
Fantastic design: chunky and sporty, with a range of bold paint colours including electric blue and canary yellow. As well as being electric, and therefore better for the environment, it offers genuinely sporty performance with a decent range.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
This is the plug-in hybrid version of the immensely popular XC40, which is Volvo’s smallest SUV, and it has just launched. It feels like a much more luxury offering than the price suggests, with a smooth, neat interior and quiet manner on the road. The small 1.5-litre petrol engine helps keep emissions, and therefore tax, down, and you’ll be good for 30 miles in electric mode.
It’s been around for years but continues to be one of the most desirable electric cars on the roads, with futuristic styling inside and out, and plenty of recycled materials to push the eco credentials up. But you also get BMW’s traditional pin-sharp handling and exemplary chassis. You’ll have to pay proper money, but you get a proper car. If you want even more push, you can get the i3S with another 15 horsepower. Very easy to park.
You’ll have to shut your eyes and ignore this car’s looks, unless you’ve always wanted to drive around in a large metallic frog. But once inside, you’ll be laughing: this offers the best connectivity of any small car right now. The tablet screen shows off Renault’s gifted design work – when the screen’s off, for example, it reverts to a scenic picture of a mellow mountain range. And when it’s on, the possible activities are grouped by colour and more enticing graphics. Electric range of more than 200 miles.
One of the best top-down motoring experiences you can have. BMW-group engines under the bonnet and the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox mean there’s a Mini Convertible for everyone, especially with the endless bespoke pattern and colour options inside and out. Still loving the British Union Flag taillights.
Fiat 500 Hybrid
It’s not a plug-in hybrid; there’s just an onboard electric motor for extra boost on the go, and tax and fuel savings. This retro-themed Italian job is still highly desirable and perfect for parking and turning in tight city spots. Just don’t expect to shove much shopping in that dinky boot.
Land Rover Evoque P300e
The Evoque has remained extremely popular, way after Victoria Beckham styled and unveiled her own version of Land Rover’s compact SUV. A raft of updates means the Evoque now has a really premium, tactile interior and offers cool gadgets like the optional ClearSight rear-view mirror, which turns into a camera view of what’s behind you at the flick of a switch. The plug-in hybrid version is called the P300e, and comes with 300 horsepower and enough electric range for 99.9 per cent of daily commutes.
Many argue this is the best-looking mini hatchback out there, and the pricing seems very reasonable given there’s a premium “VW” badge on the front. Go for the 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, unless your commute takes you on a long motorway journey, in which case you’ll be one of the few who gets better value from the 1.6-litre diesel option. Definitely opt for the burned-orange paint colour.
Yes you can get a hybrid version, but the little petrol engines match the cute nature of this redesigned hatchback, which tops the best-seller lists in every country apart from the UK. The latest version has a huge tablet-style touchscreen and flashes of colour in the cabin if you go to the top trim level. Worth it, for a very chic French runaround.
If it’s style, style and more style you’re after, this is the one. Look at it. Especially in white. It makes a mockery of all other attempts to style electric cars as a gift from the future, instead harking back decades to a Sixties vibe. But you get contemporary Honda engineering, which is among the world’s finest, and a range of 137 miles, which is way down on most competitors’ but irrelevant if you just need this for commuting, shopping and local trips.