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The cost of electric cars is coming down at last and it’s happening fast, too, with big brands slashing prices. Most recently Chinese maker BYD dropped the entry fee into its Dolphin hatch following Tesla’s big cost cut of its Model 3 and Model Y.

Even Peugeot stole headlines with a huge $20K price reduction for its E-2008 GT before immediately selling out its entire stock for the rest of the year. But still, even the cheapest EVs aren't all that affordable by petrol standards, so we’ve decided to put together a list of what you can buy for the money even the cheapest EVs cost.

  1. GWM Ora Standard Range or Subaru Impreza 2.0L

The trophy for Australia’s cheapest electric car is currently sitting on the mantelpiece at the GWM Ora’s house thanks to its drive-away price of $35,990. And, yes, that sounds amazing, but for less money there’s the new-generation Subaru Impreza 2.0L with its drive-away price of $35,936.

The GWM Ora Standard Range and Subaru Impreza 2.0L are the entry-grade hatches in their respective ranges but compared head-to-head there are some clear differences. 

The Ora is front-wheel drive and makes 126kW/250Nm from its single motor. The Impreza has all-wheel drive and its 2.0-litre 'boxer' engine makes 115kW/196Nm. The Ora’s 0-100km/h time is 8.4 seconds and the Impreza’s is 10 seconds flat. 

GWM Ora.
GWM Ora.

The Ora is 4.2m long and seats five, while the Impreza is 4.5m end-to-end and also seats five. Boot sizes are similar with the Ora’s cargo capacity being 883 litres and the Impreza's 838L.

The Impreza has a large, portrait-style central touchscreen, while the Ora does the double display trick for media and instrument cluster.

The Ora’s range is 310km with its 48kWh battery and the Impreza, with its 50L fuel tank and 7.5L/100km fuel efficiency, should get up to 666km.

Subaru Impreza.
Subaru Impreza.

The Ora has a five-star ANCAP rating while the Impreza is yet to be tested, but both come with a full suite of advanced safety tech from AEB to blind-spot warning.

You can read our reviews of the Ora and Impreza 2.0L, but the Impreza is our pick for driving and comfort.

  1. BYD Dolphin Premium or Mini Cooper 5D Classic

Yes, prices of electric cars are down but when one of the cheapest EVs in Australia, such as the BYD Dolphin, costs more than a prestige Mini Cooper you know we’re not there yet. But that’s where we are, with the Dolphin Premium listing for $42,890 and the Mini Cooper Classic five-door at $40,800.

The BYD is powered by a single electric motor making 150kW/310Nm while the Mini’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine conjures up a 100kW/220Nm. The 0-100km/h sprint time for the Dolphin is a quick 7.0 seconds while the Mini gets there in 8.3 seconds.

The Mini’s interior feels high quality and looks unique but the Dolphin matches that quirkiness with its interior styling.

BYD Dolphin.
BYD Dolphin.

The Dolphin’s range is 427km with its 60.5kWh battery and the Mini with its 45L fuel tank and 5.7L/100km fuel efficiency should get up to 701km.

The BYD Dolphin has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, while the Mini remains untested.

You can read our reviews of both cars, but it’s hard to beat the Mini when it comes to driving fun and a premium feel.

Mini Cooper S.
Mini Cooper S.
  1. MG MG4 Excite 64 or Skoda Octavia Wagon 110TSI Sportline

The MG4 is one of our favourite budget electric cars and the 64kWh variant is priced well at $45,990 drive-away. But on the other hand you can get a Skoda Octavia Sportline Wagon for $43,990 drive-away.

The MG4 Excite’s single electric motor makes 150kW/250Nm while the Octavia 1.4-litre four cylinder turbo-petrol engine makes 110kW/250Nm. Both are front-wheel drive. The MG4 can get itself from 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds while the Octavia is slower at 8.6 seconds.

The MG4 has a functional and modern cabin but it's no match for the Octavia's practicality and premium feel.

MG MG4.
MG MG4.

The Octavia scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019 but the independent body's safety assessment criteria has come a long way since then and the MG4’s five-star score is from 2022.

The MG4’s 64kWh battery gives it a range of up to 450km, while the Octavia should get up to 775km on its 45-litre tank and 5.8L/100km fuel consumption.

The Octavia Sportline wagon might not be able to out-sprint the MG4 but the Octavia beats it for ride comfort and driving dynamics.

Skoda Octavia.
Skoda Octavia.
  1. Nissan Leaf ZE1 or Kia Sorento S

Nissan was one of the electric car originals with its first Leaf dropping almost 15 years ago. The new leaf is better but still expensive with the ZE1 listing for $50,990. There are so many cars in petrol land you can get for this price, but we’ve just gone and picked one of the best out there - the Kia Sorento S for $50,680.

Yes, the comparison is ridiculous but so is having to pay more than $50K for a little Nissan hatchback.

The Leaf ZE1 has a single electric motor driving the front wheels and making 110kW/320Nm for a 0-100km/h time of  7.9 seconds. The Kia Sorento’s big 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine is naturally aspirated and makes 200kW/332Nm and has a 0-100km/h time of about 10 seconds.

Nissan Leaf e+.
Nissan Leaf e+.

Inside the Sorento is cavernous and features premium feeling materials and cool styling, while the Leaf leaves us feeling a bit underwhelmed in terms of interior design and feel.

We're not even going to talk about how much bigger the Sorento is because that's like comparing the MCG's capacity with that of a scout hall, but they make a good comparison in terms of how much further petrol money will take you.

Speaking of which, the Leaf's range with its 39kWh battery is 270km while the Sorento’s 67-litre fuel tank should get you 680km because this thing is thirty at 9.8L/100km.

Kia Sorento.
Kia Sorento.

Both cars have a five-star ANCAP rating but they’re getting seriously long in the tooth with the Leaf scoring its in 2018 and the Sorento in 2020.

We’re going with the Sorento for its sheer acreage, ride comfort and styling.

  1. Tesla Model Y RWD or Audi Q3 35TFSI

Ah, here’s one that’s going to have the Tesla army mobilising at dawn. Yep, for less than the price of the very popular Model Y RWD at $55,900 you could park an Audi Q3 35TFSI in your driveway. That's right, the Q3 35TFSI comes in at $54,600, before on-road costs.

The Model Y RWD has a motor sending the drive to the rear wheels and produces 220kW with a 0-100km/h time of 6.9 seconds. The Q3 35TFSI has a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 110kW/250Nm and sending drive to the front wheels for a 0-100km/h time of 9.3 seconds.

Tesla Model Y.
Tesla Model Y.

The Model Y is a bigger car at 4.7m long while the Q3 is 4.5, but both have the same intentions of being sporty mid-size premium SUVs.

This writer prefers the ride and handling of the Q3 over the Model Y. The interior feels high quality and more refined, too.

Audi Q3.
Audi Q3.

The Q3 scored a maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2018 while the Tesla scored its five stars in 2022.

Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero mathematical ability. Unable to build a laser in an exam and failing to solve the theoretical challenge of keeping a satellite in orbit, his professor noted the success Richard was enjoying in the drama and writing courses he had been doing on the side. Even though Richard couldn’t see how a degree in story-telling and pretending would ever get him a job, he completed one anyway. Richard has since been a best-selling author and a journalist for 20 years, writing about science, music, finance, cars, TV, art, film, cars, theatre, architecture, food, and cars. He also really likes cars, and has owned an HQ ute, Citroen 2CV, XW Falcon, CV8 Monaro and currently, a 1951 Ford Tudor. A husband and dad, Richard’s hobbies also include astronomy.
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