RACV’s electric car of the year, over $65,000

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 17 December 2020

What’s the best EV on the Australian market for over $65,000? RACV names its top picks for 2020.

While electric vehicle prices are expected to reach parity with equivalent petrol and diesel models later this decade, for now EVs remain an expensive proposition – regardless of the badge. 

Premium brands quickly jumped on the EV bandwagon after seeing Tesla’s success with its high-end offerings, and now the competition at the pointy end of the market is heating up. If you have some cash to splash on an eco-car, there are some exceptional models to choose from, and many more on the way.  

But which is the best of the best? RACV test drove and compared the entry-level variant of every premium electric vehicle on the Australian market – scoring each on value for money, safety, driving range and charging, interior space, comfort and quality, drive impressions and warranty and servicing – to find Australia's EV of the Year for 2020

Here are the results.  

Jaguar i-Pace

The Jaguar I-Pace has been named EV of the Year for vehicles over $65,000 for 2020.


Tesla Model S

The Model S is the car that put Tesla – and its founder, Elon Musk – on the map.


Winner: Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S AWD


Overall score: 52/60

Jaguar entered the premium electric SUV market earlier than its European counterparts with the striking I-Pace crossover in late 2018. The I-Pace looks sleek and sporty but it’s also spacious and luxurious. Just updated for the 2021 year, it has one of the best driving ranges of all the high-end EVs and maintains Jaguar’s reputation for engaging drivers’ cars. While more electric Jaguars are on the horizon – including the next-generation XJ limousine – the I-Pace continues to impress. 

Value for money

Score: 8/10

  • Price: $128,248 before on-road costs. 
  • Standard features: Reasonable standard gear list but a lot of features are optional. It does have auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, voice control, keyless entry and start, heated, electric power-fold exterior mirrors.  

Safety

Score: 9/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars.
  • Safety features: Autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot warning, rear-door anti-dooring warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping aid, rear-collision monitor, 3D surround camera, driver-attention alert. 

Driving range and charging

Score: 8/10

  • Driving range: 470 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2/CCS. 
  • Battery/motor: 90kWh lithium-ion battery, 294kW/696Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 22-25.2kWh/100km.  
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 40 hours (0-100%); 7.2kW home wall charger – 12 hours 45 minutes (0-100%); 50kW fast-charging station – 1 hour 52 minutes (0-100%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 8.5/10

  • Roomy cabin offers plenty of space for occupants, although rear bucket seats render the centre seat all but useless. Front seats offer excellent levels of support and comfort. 
  • Beautifully executed interior design, intuitive and clean dash layout and modern infotainment system. 
  • Smart dials have multiple clever but easy-to-use functions. 
  • Premium materials on the dash, door panels and seats – it has an air of prestige that models in this category can't match. 
  • Massive 656-litre rear cargo area. The charging cable lives in the front cargo area. Clever use of space. 

Drive impressions

Score: 8.5/10

  • Jaw-dropping straight-line performance. 0-100kmh sprint is done and dusted in 4.8 seconds, according to Jaguar.  
  • It’s a heavy car and that’s noticeable on the road, but it handles like a sports car. 
  • Steering is heavily weighted and feels a little numb. The cabin is well insulated.  
  • Grips road incredibly well, aided by the AWD layout. 
  • Well-calibrated suspension makes for a comfy ride, handles large potholes without fuss. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 9/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Five years/200,000 kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/160,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Five years. 
  • Servicing plan: Complimentary servicing for five years/200,000 kilometres. 
  • Service intervals: Condition-based servicing. 

Extras

Score: 1

  • Five years’ unlimited free charging using the Chargefox public network. 

Runner-up: Tesla Model S Long Range Plus AWD


Overall score: 49/60

While Tesla previously sold niche sportscars, the Model S is the car that put the Californian company – and its founder, Elon Musk – on the map. Its impact on the global automotive industry can’t be overstated. Lauded for its exhilarating performance – including ‘Ludicrous’ mode on higher-grade models – the Model S is part sportscar, part limousine. It’s about to face an onslaught of large electric sedan rivals from Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, but it remains the luxury EV of choice for many. 

Value for money

Score: 7.5/10

  • Price: $134,700 before on-road costs.  
  • Standard features: Heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, wireless device charging, tinted glass roof, Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch display screen, auto dimming and heated power-folding exterior mirrors, satellite navigation, voice recognition, Sentry security system and dashcam.  

Safety

Score: 8.5/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars.
  • Safety features: Like all Teslas here includes Autopilot suite. Standard gear includes AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot sensor, lane-keeping active assist, forward-collision warning. 

Driving range and charging

Score: 9/10

  • Driving range: 652 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2. 
  • Battery/motor: 100kWh lithium-ion battery, 398kW/755Nm electric motors. 
  • Energy consumption: 16.3kWh/100km. 
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 50 hours (0-100%); 11kW home wall charger – 11 hours (0-100%); 120kW public supercharger station – 75 minutes (0-100%).  

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 7.5/10

  • Not quite as minimal as the Model 3 but still sparse. It has an instrument cluster, unlike the smaller Tesla. 
  • Big 17-inch portrait-style screen dominates the dash – other brands have since mimicked this approach. It has the same functionality as the Model 3. 
  • Incredibly supportive and comfortable front seats and interesting design touches throughout the cabin. 
  • Feels much more premium than Model 3 – unsurprising given the price difference – but can’t match the quality of the Europeans. 
  • Acres of space in second row and massive cargo space – 804 litres, including 150 litres in the frunk.  

Drive impressions

Score: 9/10

  • This is the quickest vehicle in either price category, powering its way through the 0-100kmh sprint in a supercar-beating 3.8 seconds.  
  • Surprisingly nimble given its heft. Carves through bends like a much smaller car. 
  • Even in comfort mode the ride is a little firm. Not helped by low-profile tyres.  
  • Well-calibrated regenerative braking and sharp steering. 
  • Feels more solid and has a quieter cabin than the Model 3. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7.5/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Four years/80,000 kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/240,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Four years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Servicing: Condition-based servicing, including over-the-air updates and mobile servicing. Set intervals for some items.
Audi e-tron electric

The e-tron is the first model in Audi’s planned EV assault.


Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is the best-selling EV in the world.


Audi e-tron 50 quattro electric SUV


Overall score: 48.5/60

The e-tron is the first model in Audi’s planned EV assault. The electric SUV, packed with top-notch in-car tech, is also available in Sportback coupe guise and both body styles are offered in 50 quattro and more powerful 55 quattro variants. The Sportback adds $11,000 to the price. Based on a heavily modified version of the Volkswagen Group MLB Evo platform, the e-tron will soon face competition from BMW’s all-electric iX3 as well as the Tesla, Benz and Jaguar mentioned here. Audi is offering free installation of a Jetcharge home charger with purchase, until the end of 2020. 

Value for money

Score: 7.5/10

  • Price: $137,100 before on-road costs.  
  • Standard features: 10.1-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay,  8.6-inch screen for vehicle functions, electric tailgate with gesture control, heated seats and dual-zone climate control. 

Safety

Score: 9/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars.
  • Safety features: Anti-dooring exit warning, autonomous emergency braking with cyclist/pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane-keeping aid, rear cross-traffic assist and intersection assist.

Driving range and charging

Score: 7/10

  • Driving range: 336 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2/CCS. 
  • Battery/motor: 71kWh lithium-ion battery, 230kW/540Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 23.6kWh/100km.  
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 36 hours (0-100%); 11kW home wall charger – 7 hours (0-100%); 50kW fast-charging station – 1 hour 25 (0-100%); 120kW public station – 50 minutes (0-100%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 8.5/10

  • Beautifully designed interior with high-quality materials and solid build quality. Spacious cabin feels like it sits somewhere between an Audi Q5 and Q7 SUV. 
  • Latest tech, from dual touchscreens and digital instrument cluster to wireless charging. Audi’s infotainment system has an extensive list of functions but remains easy to use. 
  • Thoughtful touches like unique gear shifter and ample storage. 
  • Seat upholstery in e-tron 50 doesn’t look or feel premium. 
  • 660-litre boot capacity is the biggest of the Europeans, just edging out the Jag. 

Drive impressions

Score: 8/10

  • Brisk acceleration, with Audi claiming a 0-100kmh time of 6.8 seconds. It maintains that momentum up steep ascents too – impressive performance. 
  • Handles like a car half its size and weight. Smile-inducing handling and no lateral movement. Beautifully balanced chassis.  
  • Steering has more weight to it than other Audis, and it’s welcome.  
  • Thick tyres and well-calibrated damper setting make for a balanced and comfortable ride.  
  • Hushed cabin keeps external noise at bay.  

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7.5/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/160,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Six years. 
  • Servicing plan: Six years/90,000 kilometres. 
  • Service intervals: Every two years/30,000 kilometres.  

Extras

Score: 1

  • Six years’ unlimited free charging using the Chargefox public network. 

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus RWD


Overall score: 48.5/60

The Model 3 is the best-selling EV in the world, knocking the Nissan Leaf from its perch last year. Pitched as Tesla’s entry-level affordable model, it lacks none of the performance found in its pricier stablemates. A useful driving range and dedicated network of superchargers mean the Model 3 is an everyday EV, and it can be charged at public stations because it has a CCS2 plug. Tesla offers some unusual features, including Activate Dog Mode to keep your pooch safe and cool, Arcade with games like Mario Kart for when the car is not in use, and a Fart Mode option for the indicator sound.  

Value for money

Score: 9/10

  • Price: $68,425 before on-road costs. 
  • Standard features: 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, power-folding heated side mirrors, wireless charging for two devices, Bluetooth connectivity, four USB ports, rain-sensing wipers, sat-nav, smart key. 

Safety

Score: 8.5/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars.
  • Safety features: AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure with passive steer assist, blind-spot sensor, lane-keeping active assist, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control.

Driving range and charging

Score: 7.5/10

  • Driving range: 409 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2/CCS. 
  • Battery/motor: 50kWh lithium-ion battery, 239kW/420Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 18.8kWh/100km. 
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 27 hours (0-100%); 11kW home wall charger – 6 hours 40 minutes (0-100%); 120kW public supercharger station – 45 minutes (0-100%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 7/10

  • Strikingly minimalist interior dominated by massive 15-inch central display screen. The dash and console are free of buttons. 
  • Everything is controlled via the incredibly intuitive screen, which takes some getting used to, especially having the speedo out of direct line of sight.  
  • Spacious second row, although the sloping roofline impacts taller occupants. 
  • Some cheap cabin materials and fittings bring down the overall finish. Tesla can’t match European build quality.  
  • 425-litre rear boot is big enough for a couple of suitcases and there’s a 117-litre ‘frunk’ (front truck). 

Drive impressions

Score: 9/10

  • Even in entry-level, single-motor, rear-wheel-drive guise, the Model 3 offers incredible acceleration. Just 5.6 seconds for 0-100kmh. 
  • Impressive handling. It hugs corners and darts through twisty sections of road like a sportscar. Incredible performance, but if you want more, there are the Long Range and Performance all-wheel-drive variants. 
  • Strong brakes and precise steering add to the experience. 
  • Suspension is tuned for performance so the ride is firm.  
  • Cabin less hushed than some of the more premium EVs. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7.5/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Four years/80,000 kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/160,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Four years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Servicing: Condition-based servicing, including over-the-air updates and mobile servicing. Set intervals for some items. 
Mercedes Benz EQC

The Benz EQC uses about 100 recycled parts and is available with faux-leather trim.


Tesla Model x

The Model X was the world’s first all-electric SUV.


Mercedes-Benz EQC400 4Matic


Overall score: 48/60

Benz’s first EV is a direct rival for the Audi and Jaguar and shares some underpinnings with the popular GLC SUV. The sleek, tech-laden EQC is the first of many EVs set to launch under Mercedes’ new EQ low-emissions banner, including the upcoming EQS all-electric limousine. Offered in just one highly specified model grade, the EQC sold out as soon as it launched but Benz’s local arm managed to get a better allocation this year. The EQC uses about 100 recycled parts and it’s available with faux-leather trim for those who want to steer clear of animal products.  

Value for money

Score: 7.5/10

  • Price: $137,900 before on-road costs. 
  • Standard features: AMG Line interior, wireless device charging, heated front seats, DAB+ digital radio, 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, head-up display, two 10.25-inch digital displays, MBUX infotainment system, ambient lighting with 64 colours. 

Safety

Score: 9/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars.
  • Safety features: AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping aid, driver-attention assist, traffic-sign recognition and audible silent-vehicle alert for pedestrians. 

Driving range and charging

Score: 7/10

  • Driving range: 353 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2/CCS. 
  • Battery/motor: 80kWh lithium-ion battery, 300kW/760Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 21.4kWh/100km. 
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 40 hours (0-100%); 7.4kW home wall charger – 10 hours 45 minutes (0-100%); 50kW fast-charging station – 1 hour 45 minutes (0-100%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 8.5/10

  • Spacious interior with ample room for rear-seat occupants, well-bolstered front seats. 
  • Visually appealing interior design with lots of gloss-black inserts and high-quality materials. 
  • Benz’s MBUX infotainment system includes the ‘Hey, Mercedes’ voice-recognition function and twin 10.25-inch digital screens. The system houses many functions but it’s intuitive. 
  • Small rear windscreen affects rear visibility but the high-tech cameras and sensors help here. 
  • 500-litre boot offers decent space but can’t match the Jag or Audi. 

Drive impressions

Score: 8/10

  • Another responsive performer with a 0-100kmh time of 5.1 seconds, just off the Jag’s pace.  
  • Feels heavy on the road and weighty in corners, although there’s no body roll. 
  • It’s a dynamically capable and fun car to drive.  
  • Ride quality is comfortable on smooth roads, but it gets crashy over potholes. 
  • Loads of noise-suppressing materials make for an incredibly quiet cabin. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/160,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Five years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Servicing plan: Three years capped-price servicing 
  • Service intervals: Every 12 months/25,000 kilometres. 

Extras

Score: 1

  • Five years’ unlimited free charging using the Chargefox public network.

Tesla Model X Long Range Plus AWD


Overall score: 46.5/60

Based on the Model S, the Model X was the world’s first all-electric SUV. Available with five or seven seats, the Model X also has a neat party trick in its ‘falcon-wing’ rear doors that open upwards. They even have a sensor to stop them hitting the ceiling in your garage. The Model X lacks some of the driving range of the Model S due to its extra weight, but it still has impressive real-world range. It’s now one of several electric SUVs on the market and will be joined by the smaller Model Y next year. 

Value for money

Score: 6.5/10

  • Price: $159,400 before on-road costs. 
  • Standard features: Heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, falcon-wing rear doors, Bluetooth connectivity, 17-speaker audio, 17-inch display screen, wireless device charging, auto dimming and heated power-folding exterior mirrors, sat-nav, voice recognition, Sentry security system and dashcam. 

Safety

Score: 8.5/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars. 
  • Safety features: Autopilot driver-assist suite as standard. Safety highlights include AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor, lane-keeping active assist, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control.  

Driving range and charging

Score: 8.5/10

  • Driving range: 561 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2. 
  • Battery/motor: 100kWh lithium-ion battery, 398kW/755Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 19.8kWh/100km. 
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 51 hours (0-100%); 11kW home wall charger – 10 hours (0-100%); 120kW public supercharger station – 75 minutes (0-100%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 7.5/10

  • Loads of front-row space, although windscreen that extends beyond front occupants’ heads is a little pointless. 
  • Same central screen from Model S, but more storage up front. 
  • Falcon-wing rear doors are pure gimmick.  
  • Spacious second row, although middle seat space is limited by central panel of split sunroof. Third row is for occasional use by small children only. 
  • 2487-litre cargo space, but it is unclear if that is with all seven seats in place or the third row folded.  

Drive impressions

Score: 8/10

  • Acceleration is still incredibly quick at 4.6 seconds from 0-100kmh, but can’t beat the Model S. 
  • The X is 230 kilograms heavier than the Model S and it feels it on the road. There’s some lateral movement in corners. 
  • Outclassed by the Model S and the Europeans for dynamics. 
  • Ride is firm and crashes over potholes.  
  • Hushed cabin keeps most outside noise out. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7.5/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Four years/80,000 kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/240,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Four years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Servicing: Condition-based servicing, including over-the-air updates and mobile servicing. Some maintenance items have specific intervals. 
BMW i3s
BWM i3s

BMW's i3 remains a fun, quirky electric pioneer.  


BMW i3s


Overall score: 42.5/60

The i3 was a ground-breaking model for BMW, debuting in 2014 in range-extender hybrid and fully electric guise. The only i3 available in Australia now is the sportier i3S EV. Produced at BMW’s carbon-neutral Leipzig factory, the i3s uses materials made from recycled products such as plastic bottles and plants. The i3 has a distinctive tall-boy design with rear-hinged doors and unmistakable ‘EV’ styling. As the second-oldest model in the over-$65,000 category it lags its rivals in areas such as range and safety tech, but the i3 remains a fun, quirky electric pioneer.  

Value for money

Score: 7/10

  • Price: $70,900 before on-road costs. 
  • Standard features: An average standard features list compared with the others here, but it is also the second-cheapest vehicle in this category behind the Model 3. Equipment includes keyless entry and start, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, rain-sensing wipers, sports suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive digital display, DAB+ digital radio. 

Safety

Score: 7/10

  • ANCAP rating: Five stars (rating achieved in 2014). 
  • Safety features: The i3 misses out on key driver-assistance features the others have. It has adaptive cruise control, emergency assist, and a forward-collision warning, but no AEB, blind-spot monitor or lane-keeping aid.  

Driving range and charging

Score: 6.5/10

  • Driving range: 260 kilometres (WLTP). 
  • Plug: Type 2/CCS. 
  • Battery/motor: 42.2kWh lithium-ion battery, 135kW/270Nm electric motor. 
  • Energy consumption: 14-14.6kWh/100km. 
  • Charging time: 10A household power point – 21 hours (0-80%); 11kW home wall charger – 3.5 hours (0-80%); 50kW fast-charging station – 40 minutes (0-80%). 

Interior space, comfort and quality

Score: 6.5/10

  • Tardis-like interior offers more space than you’d expect. Loads of head room and decent leg room too – BMW has used the space wisely.  
  • Use of recycled and natural materials will satisfy buyers looking for an EV with genuine environmental credentials beyond the zero-emissions powertrain.  
  • The sustainable dash materials have a distinctive look and feel and make the i3S cabin experience unique.  
  • Unusual dash design and layout – including steering wheel-mounted gear shifter and two-spoke wheel – won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s unlike any other vehicle in the category. Risky but successful design.  
  • 260-litre boot isn’t massive, but it is the smallest car here. 

Drive impressions

Score: 7/10

  • Zippy, responsive city car with a 0-100kmh time of 6.9 seconds. Same electric motor as the Mini, but the BMW is quicker in a straight line. 
  • i3S has sports suspension and sits lower to the ground than regular i3 (no longer sold in Australia), which aids dynamics.  
  • Thanks to the carbon-fibre body, the i3S is lightweight and nimble. Impressive cornering ability and handling make it a real joy to drive. 
  • Focus on performance means the suspension is stiff which makes for a firm ride. Bumps and ruts are felt in the cabin. 
  • Dimensions and tight turning circle make it a perfect city car. Regenerative braking works a treat around town too. 

Warranty and servicing

Score: 7.5/10

  • Vehicle warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres. 
  • Battery warranty: Eight years/100,000 kilometres. 
  • Roadside assist: Eight years. 
  • Servicing plan: Five years/80,000 kilometres capped-price. 
  • Service intervals: Condition-based servicing. 

Extras

Score: 1

  • Three-year Chargefox subscription that includes complimentary 250kWh/year allowance and approximately six complimentary charging sessions (0-100%).