AA DRIVEN NZ COTY 2023 finalists: the best pure-electric (BEV) vehicles of the year

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It’s AA DRIVEN Car Guide New Zealand Car of the Year time again! We’ll be awarding wins in 11 different categories, acknowledging the overwhelming preference for all things SUV but also with a focus on eco-cars and technology.

There are Small SUV, Medium SUV, Large SUV, Passenger, LCV, Clean Car HEV/PHEV/BEV, Sports and Performance, Luxury and Safety categories, not to mention the outright AA DRIVEN Car Guide NZ COTY – which will of course be one of the top three cars chosen from those categories.

We continue the programme this week by announcing the finalists in the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) category.

Top three BEVs of 2023

While still representing a relatively small percentage of new car sales in New Zealand, the BEV market is growing at a rapid rate and prices continue to drop.

As BEVs quickly approach price parity with their ICE-powered equivalents, the sheer quality of the offerings are also increasing, with high levels of technology and standard equipment being offered on even entry-level models.

In a fun twist for traditionalists, the burgeoning BEV segment has also seen something of a resurgence of a body style that seemed to be on its way out in favour of the all-dominant SUV: the small hatch, with two of our three finalists representing the hatch segment this year!

The BYD Dolphin is the the Chinese company's second offering in the New Zealand market, following on from the big-selling Atto 3 of last year.

The Dolphin takes everything that saw the Atto 3 almost take the COTY title last year and makes it slightly smaller and less in-your-face, with more reserved styling and a far more traditional interior, while still retaining a high level of standard equipment and cutting-edge technology. And, yes, it does have the trick rotating centre screen.

Pricing starts at $49,990 for the standard range model with a 45kWh battery and a 340km range, but its the $55,990 60kWh extended range model with 427km of range that is the real sweet spot of the line up.

It may have upset a few Mustang purists when it launched, but the Ford Mustang Mach-E offers all the visceral thrills of the two-door model, just with four doors.

It may lack the roar of a V8, but the Mach-E is an absolute blast to throw down a winding roar, particularly the rather angry top-of-the-range GT model that does a damn fine impression of a RWD V8 Mustang and a FWD Focus ST at the same time.

But then it also offers something that the two door coupe can't - lots of interior space, a big boot and rear seats that actual humans can sit in. The Mustang Mach-E range starts with the sensible $79,990 RWD model with 440km of range and tops out with the totally mad $124,990 AWD GT that offers 490km of range, as well as a 3.7 second 0-100km/h time...

While the MG ZS EV was a big seller for the popular Chinese brand in New Zealand, the MG4 is a massive step up in literally every regard. And is cheaper as well.

The line up is rather broad as well, starting with the $46,990 Excite 51 and stretching to the 320kW AWD MG4 XPower that offers a Mustang-matching 0-100 time for just $69,990. Ranges stretch from 350km right up to 530km and all models (apart from the AWD XPower) are RWD, with a real focus on driver-pleasing dynamics.

Of course, like the BYD, the MG4 comes packed with standard equipment and technology, including the entry level car that drops under $40k after the Clean Car rebate is applied.

After you have shared your opinion on BEVs why not vote in our AA DRIVEN Car Guide NZ Car of the Year Peoples Choice award to go into the draw to win $5000 of fuel/charge credit below. 

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