On the Road to An EV: Test Drives

Rory Tait test drives his top three electric vehicles and shares his views.
As part of my journey to buying an electric vehicle, I have now undertaken some test drives of a few of the EVs which interest me, to get a feel of how the EV driving experience compares with the driving experience of ICE vehicles. I chose 3 different vehicles to test and tried to dispel any preconceived ideas I may have had!

Tesla Model 3: "Built for Safety"

First off the block was the Tesla Model 3. I picked it up at their Chiswick showroom and drove along Chiswick High Road. My first observation was about the cabin. It is brutally spartan compared to “normal” cars. Essentially, they have done away with all the buttons and other clutter which you get with your standard (or in fact premium) ICE cars. No key, no gear stick or handbrake, one large screen, one single lever controlling movement (up for forward, down for reverse, middle for parking). As mentioned above there is no key but simply a credit card sized card which opens the doors and starts the car. It is placed on the central console whilst driving. To open the doors you need to place the card on the central door pillar. In performance terms it is lightning quick which became apparent when moving off at traffic lights! Acceleration was smooth with no jerkiness and the ride overall was pretty smooth and not too harsh. This compared favourably with my existing car, a BMW 3 series MSport in which you feel every bump. I had read about the issue of the immediacy of braking when taking one’s foot off the accelerator which affects some EVs more than others, but the Model 3’s braking in these circumstances was gradual and controlled. All in all, this was (albeit that I was in the car for just over 30 minute) a pleasant and pretty exciting driving experience.

Polestar: "The way electric cars should be"

Car number 2 was the Polestar 2. The first immediate difference which was noticeable was the lack of space and room around the driver’s seat and it was much more cramped than the Model 3 which surprised me as from the outside the Polestar appears to be a much larger vehicle. In essence the Polestar is a modified Volvo XC40 and did have the feel of being a much larger car. Unlike the Model 3 there was a lot of clutter around the dashboard as the Polestar has retained a plethora of buttons/switches etc. In performance terms, again it was impressive in its acceleration and the ride was pretty smooth, but acceleration was not as immediate as in the Model 3. It felt like a very large vehicle when I was driving it and the ride was not, in my opinion, as good as in the Model 3. Given that this was my “must test drive” car when I started this journey, I was a bit disappointed overall.

Mini Electric: a car that’s "all torque, as well as action"

Car number 3 was the Mini Cooper Electric. I had never driven a Mini before and I was pleasantly surprised at the spacious interior inside what is essentially a small 3 door car. Its performance again surprised me with a smooth and impressive acceleration from a standing start and the ride was reasonably firm but not overly so. I would have preferred to test drive a 5 door Mini but was told that a 5 door EV was probably not going to arrive before 2023. Overall though I was impressed with the Mini but I would not be in the market for a 3-door car.

After due consideration, I decided that the Model 3 came out on top. However, to put a spanner in the works, I was shown a video of the latest Tesla to come out (available in the UK this March), the Model Y. One slight downside to the Model 3 is the boot and the limited access to it. The Model Y is essentially a SUV and has a very large boot. Its performance will be similar to the Model 3 and it is only slightly larger. I have since visited the Tesla showroom in Westfield and sat in a Model Y and was duly impressed, so a test drive has been arranged for later this month. As the car is already getting good press I decided to go ahead and order one on the basis that it ticked all the boxes!

So with that news, I will revisit and share in a forthcoming blog my research into the state of the charging infrastructure and home charging in the UK.

About the Author

Rory Tait was a solicitor for 34 years prior to retiring from legal practice in 2020. His legal career has focussed exclusively on advising clients on projects in the renewable and clean energy sector from a regulatory and commercial standpoint. He has worked for a number of the larger Energy and Renewables legal practices, including Eversheds where he jointly led the Renewables practice. Rory is an expert on the regulatory regime governing the electricity industry, and he has advised extensively on the structuring and execution of generation projects across the majority of renewables technologies. He has also advised on the acquisition and disposal of individual projects, as well as portfolios of renewables assets, and he has negotiated connection agreements and power offtake arrangements for developers.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy, infrastructure and natural resources sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and other technical experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law. This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.