Electric vehicles (EVs) have a massive amount of torque which is available to them instantly, as well as (typically) single-speed reduction-gear transmissions, which makes them feel really fast for acceleration compared to a conventional petrol or diesel car. But, in reality, Electric cars haven’t always been that fast when you look at their official on-paper figures… that is, until now.
A horsepower war – or, perhaps more accurately, we should say a ‘kilowatt war’, given these things run on electric – is erupting in the EV world of the 2020s, resulting in cars with the sort of 0-62mph times and top speeds that would shame an entrant into the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship.
However, rather than this becoming a rundown of megabucks, super-rare hypercars made in double-digit production runs by start-up companies promising 2000hp-plus from their impending EVs, we’ve tried to keep it real-world with a few rules. And they are these: the car must be on general sale today, or at least have its order books open online; it must cost considerably less than £1 million or have a proposed price tag of less than that figure; and it must be produced in runs of more than 200 units.
To that end, we can’t include some of the most mental EV things like Japan’s Aspark Owl (0-62mph in 1.69 seconds, £2.5m, 50 to be built), Croatia’s Rimac Nevera (1.85secs, £2m, 150 to be built), Italy’s Automobili Pininfarina Battista (2.0secs, £2m, 150 to be built) and China’s Nio EP9 (2.7secs, £2.5m, 16 to be built), because they’re all hyper-rare oddities that won’t be available on general leasing deals with Vanarama, natch.
Similarly, we’re excluding the incoming Tesla Roadster (0-62mph in 1.9secs), Faraday Future FF91 (2.4secs), Lucid Air (2.5secs), Lotus Evija (less than 3.0secs) and Rivian R1T/R1S (3.0secs), because they’re not on sale yet. That’s a real pity in the case of the 2000hp Lotus supercar (whose model name is pronounced ‘ee-vie-ya’), which looks utterly astounding – but then, its going to be £1.5m when it finally does hit the market, so it fails on that score as well.
Here, then, is a list of the 10 fastest EVs you can lease right now, ranked in terms of their 0-62mph times. Oh, and one final thing: number 10 on this list is actually a tenth-of-a-second slower to 62mph than the already-on-sale BMW iX xDrive50 (4.6secs, and BMW is doing an even-faster M60 version of the iX soon), but as we figured there might be some of you out there who didn’t want a German EV or, alternatively, a Tesla, we’d better put something else in the line-up for you to look at!
10. Polestar 2
0-62mph Time: 4.7 seconds Top Speed: 127mph Maximum Power: 408hp Maximum Quoted Driving Range: 292 miles
Cool Scandi styling, a marvellous and minimalist interior, and decent handling with the Performance Pack means this twin-motor, all-wheel-drive Polestar 2 is a proper piece of speedy kit. With a 78kWh battery pack onboard, you even get a quoted 1-shot range approaching 300 miles, which means you don’t pay for performance with limited usability. Understated EV brilliance from the Swedes, this.
9. Audi E-Tron S Sportback
0-62mph Time: 4.5 seconds Top Speed: 130mph Maximum Power: 503hp Maximum Quoted Driving Range: 223 miles
Available in standard SUV format or this more rakish Sportback machine, the Audi E-Tron’s ultimate incarnation is the S, taking its name from the German company’s fabled line of ‘S’ performance cars of the past. It has all of Audi’s indisputable desirability mixed in, but bear in mind that the E-Tron S only makes its maximum 503hp for a mere 8 seconds of ‘overboost’ driving, while you also have to sacrifice some range to have this sort of all-weather performance – the Sportback will only go a maximum of 223 miles on a single charge. Still, its fast and it’s stylish, and its capable of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, so the Audi E-Tron S wholeheartedly deserves its place on this elite list.
8. BMW i4 M50
Watch our Mark’s brilliant video review of this car and he’ll tell you this is the best pound-for-pound EV on the market right now. And he’s not wrong. Aside from its questionable front-end looks, there’s little to dislike about the BMW i4 M50 and plenty to love. Like an interior that’s one of the best in the business, or handling that’s properly engaging and fun – like all good BMWs, electric or otherwise, should be. Furthermore, the range is in excess of 300 miles on a charge and, if anything, we’d say its 3.9-second 0-62mph time feels on the conservative side. This thing is dementedly rapid, no doubt about it.
7. Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
No Ford Mustang Mach-E is what you’d call slow, but until the GT turned up, the fastest model available (the AWD Extended Range) could only just crack 6 seconds for 0-62mph with its 351hp powertrain. The GT, however, changes all that. Power rises to a healthy yet not-out-of-this-world 487hp, but it’s the torque you want to keep an eye on – fully 860Nm of the stuff. That means Ford’s all-wheel-drive Mach-E GT finally lives up to its Mustang billing, with a 3.7-second 0-62mph sprint. Not only that, but a massive 98.7kWh gross, 88kWh net battery means the ultra-Mustang-EV will go up to 310 miles on a single charge.
6. Mercedes-AMG EQS 53
We’re still waiting for this one to land but order books are open for what is going to be, at the end of the day, a £155,000 car in basic format. Yikes! However, its the first Mercedes ‘EQ’ electric vehicle to have the touch of the German marque’s performance arm AMG bestowed upon it, which results in 2 distinct models. The Touring version has a 658hp/950Nm dual-motor AWD set-up, resulting in 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 137mph. Plenty fast enough, you might think. However, opt for the Night Edition with the AMG Performance Package and those output numbers increase to 761hp/1020Nm, which coincides with a reduction in the 0-62mph time to a searing 3.4 seconds. For something so massive, that’s incredible, and better yet the gigantic 108kWh battery pack on the EQS 53 means up to 358 driving miles on just 1 charge of its lithium-ion cells.
5. Audi RS E-Tron GT
Another of Mark’s favourite high-end EVs, the Audi E-Tron GT is a different machine to the Audi E-Tron, as the latter is an SUV whereas the car we’re looking at here is a swoopy saloon-coupe-type-thing. The regular GT is fast, but the appellation of the letters ‘RS’ to its model nameplate takes things to another level. Power rises to 646hp, enough for a 3.3-second 0-62mph time with Launch Control and a top speed that has to be limited to 155mph. Naturally, as the E-Tron GT is based on the underpinnings of the Porsche Taycan (see further down this list), the Audi has been capped at power and performance levels slightly below those of the ultimate Porsche EV (the Turbo S) for wider VW Group marketing reasons, but in recompense the RS E-Tron GT is cheaper to lease or buy than the Taycan Turbo S in the first place, it has a softer suspension setting for better long-distance comfort, and it’ll also go further on a charge of its massive 93.4kWh gross battery pack – up to 283 miles in 1 hit.
4. Tesla Model 3 Performance
Tesla is a company which specialises in EVs – indeed, this American disruptor is the brand which has changed the game for electric cars in the 21st century. It therefore dominates the top positions on this list with cars like this, the Dual-Motor AWD Tesla Model 3 Performance. With a whopping 562hp and an equally whopping battery pack, you get the best of both worlds with this EV – speed and long-legged cruising, as it will do 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, a V-max of 162mph and up to 340 miles of driving on a single charge of its battery (if you can resist its motors’ massive power). The only thing to note here is that while the Model 3 might look like a practical hatchback, its boot in truth opens like that of a saloon car, so don’t go expecting SUV-like levels of family usability from it.
3. Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Probably the most technically accomplished car on this list and something of a dream EV, the king of the wider Porsche Taycan family is the 4-door Turbo S saloon. Sure, the German outfit does different versions of its halo EV, like the off-roading Cross Turismo estate and the more road-biased Sport Turismo wagon too. But for the ultimate in speed, you need the ‘regular’ Turbo S. It delivers a colossal 761hp in Launch Control mode and backs that up with 1050Nm of torque, which – channelled through all 4 wheels via 2 motors and 2 different gearboxes – means 0-62mph in just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 162mph. Best thing is, the Taycan’s advanced 800-volt architecture means it can do repeated, ultra-rapid 0-62mph runs again and again and again, when many of its rivals’ performance will fade away after a few fast starts. About the only thing going against the Porsche, which also looks tremendous and has one of the all-time great interiors, is that the Taycan Turbo S doesn’t have the greatest 1-shot driving range in the world at a theoretical maximum of 261 miles.
2. Tesla Model X Plaid
First up in Tesla’s total lockout of the top of the podium for the fastest EVs of 2022 is the preposterous Tesla Model X Plaid. Not only is this behemoth a 7-seat family SUV with those super-funky Falcon Wing doors, but its latest powertrain arrangement now blesses it with more than 1000hp. That means an outrageous 0-62mph time of 2.6 seconds is on the cards, yet a 100kWh battery means the Tesla will still do 333 miles on a single charge. Oh, and the name ‘Plaid’? Its from Tesla founder Elon Musk’s favourite movie, the 1980s sci-fi spoof Spaceballs. In it, the villains engage ‘Ludicrous Speed’ on their spaceship at one point and, prior to this model’s launch, all Teslas had a Ludicrous Mode in their drive settings in homage to this movie sequence. Well, going further, the Spaceballs’ ship then ‘goes to plaid’ (the American word for ‘tartan’, oddly enough) in the film as its going so fast, so… now you know why this bonkers EV SUV is called the Model X Plaid.
1. Tesla Model S Plaid
0-62mph Time: Less than 1.99 seconds Top Speed: 200mph Maximum Power: 1020hp Maximum Quoted Driving Range: 396 miles
Take the monstrous tri-motor arrangement from the Tesla Model X Plaid and install it in a lower, lighter, more aerodynamic saloon shape, and what have you got? Well, what you’ve got is the fastest EV you can lay your hands on right now. The Tesla Model S Plaid punches the same 1020hp into its tyres as the Model X, only it’ll apparently crack 2 seconds for a 0-62mph run… and it goes on to 200mph as well, rather than a ‘mere’ 163mph. Its a win-win on driving range too, because the same 100kWh battery pack will reputedly take the Tesla Model S Plaid the best part of 400 miles on a single charge. So there you have it – if you want the fastest EV and one of the current crop with the best range, then you’ll be needing this Model S Plaid.