Nissan Leaf vs. BMW i3 vs. Volt/Ampera: What's the Best Used EV?

Any new technology can seem completely outdated after a few years. Just look at an iPhone7 if you don't believe us. The same goes for electric cars, not because their screens have notches but because of the all-important batteries.
Nissan Leaf vs. BMW i3 vs. Volt/Ampera: What's the Best Used EV? 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot/Fifth Gear
But many people knew the early electric cars were perfect for their daily commute; they just didn't want to pay the ridiculously high early prices. Today, you can pick them up at a fraction of the cost, but should you?

This Fifth Gear review takes a look at three contenders, one of which is still in production. It all starts with the Nissan Leaf, as it should since this model was the most popular EV globally. Today, it's worth about a sixth to an eighth of its original price and is the value kind of the video.

Acceleration is pretty nice, as the Leaf sprints better than most cars that claim to have about 100 horsepower. As a used car, this is a pretty interesting proposition because unlike with something like a Golf or an Astra, you don't need to worry about its oil changes. The battery is what can cost the most.

While you're supposed to have about 70-80% of the original capacity after 10 years, we've already seen cars with 50% capacity. Even on its best day, this proto-EV would give you about 100 miles of range, so it's only good for quick trips into town.

The Vauxhall Ampera is the second car under the magnifying glass. Nowadays, PHEVs are all over the place, but back seven years ago, this was the first to be offered in Britain. Like the Volt, this thing won the European Car of the Year award but is full of flaws. Range isn't one of them since like the sister Chevy Volt model this is has a gasoline motor. This doesn't power the wheels in any way but instead acts as an electric generator.

Problems? Well, if the battery goes bad, it costs as much as two used Leafs (Leaves?) to repair. Finally, there's the BMW i3, also available with a range extender. The German machine feels more like a science experiment on wheels, featuring super-skinning tires and abnormal looks. We think it's really interesting, especially the materials used inside and the CFRP construction.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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