Lexus has made no bones about its commitment to hybrid power, meaning its first full EV is a bit of a half-hearted effort. A fully electric version of the angular UX crossover, it falls short of its similarly priced premium rivals in almost all areas. Its 201bhp motor is short on poke, its 196-mile range falls about 100 miles short of most and its maximum rapid-charging rate of 50kW is disappointing in an increasingly 350kW world. It;s fairly lacklustre to drive, too, with average performance and lacklustre handling. Still, it rides well, looks distinctive and is beautifully built.
There’s lots to like about Mazda’s first stab at an EV, not least its crisp handling, which has become a welcome trademark of the Japanese brand. The MX-30 looks good, too, in a quirky SUV sort of way, while details such as the rear suicide doors are nice nod to the old RX-8 sports coupé. Engineers were keen to save weight, which is good from a dynamic point of view but less so for range; the MX-30’s compact 35.5kW battery results in a paltry range of 134 miles. You’re also only able to charge at a maximum of 50kW, although that small battery means an 80% range will take just 36 minutes. Characterful and good to drive it may be, but the MX-30 feels like a missed opportunity.
This is the entry point to Mercedes EV ownership, although that still means a base price of at least £40,000. Essentially an electrified GLA compact crossover, the EQA is currently only available in front-wheel drive 250 guise at the moment, which means a modest 187bhp but a respectable range of 263 miles, plus the ability to charge at up to 100kW. It looks smart enough and its interior has a premium feel that mainstream rivals can’t match. Yet it’s also cramped compared to rivals, while its firm ride and uninspiring handling make it less practical and satisfying choice than rival models such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Volkswagen ID 4.
As its name suggests, this is the all-electric versions of Mercedes’s GLB SUV, which with its relatively modest dimensions and seven-seat layout has carved out it’s own niche in the upmarket compact SUV class. Having been designed from the outset to house a big battery and electric motors (one at the front and another at the back for four-wheel drive), the EQB has managed to retain all three rows of seats, giving it something of USP. In other respects it’s merely average, with the 350 4MATIC delivering a so-so range of 257 miles and a maximum charging rate of 100kW. Still, the interior is classy and it’s a doddle to drive, if far from invigorating. It’s not cheap, but if you want a compact seven-seat EV SUV it’s the only game in town.