Back in 2010, Tesla unveiled a sleek little two-seater roadster with a bunch of batteries and loudly proclaimed EVs could be fun. It was a stark contrast to the hyper-efficient egg-shaped commuter EVs that came before it, and it was a catalyst for the modern electrification movement. Suddenly, EVs could be cool.
However in the decade that followed, automakers focused on families more than fun. The vast majority of EV shapes since that original roadster have been crossovers and SUVs. We can’t fault the logic here, these are the cars that sell in volume - but with many of these models now on offer, manufacturers are starting to think about their next move... and it seems that fun is back on the menu.
Don't get us wrong, you can absolutely have fun in today's EVs. The instant torque of electrification has truly democratized acceleration in ways that would have been hard to imagine just a few short years ago. Suddenly, 9,000-lb sport utility vehicles can leave supercars looking sluggish in the quarter mile. That’s pretty fun. So are the wild new features that cars-as-software now enable, from video games to Netflix to karaoke.
But that’s not really what we’re talking about. Please forgive us, we crave more than just speed in a straight line. We here at EV.Guide are car enthusiasts in the old-school tradition, and adore cars that make us feel an emotional connection, and a one-ness with the machine. Cars that are built to go fast not just in a straight line, but around corners, too. We love cars that excite us and communicate with us, offering feedback through the steering wheel and the chassis that drivers can use to understand what the car is doing underneath them. We're also fascinated by EVs as a technology, and the NEW types of fun and driving engagement they could enable now and in the future.
There are some bright spots currently. The Tesla Model 3 Performance has inspired a healthy aftermarket of performance modifications, and is not out-of-place at autocross or track days. The Porsche Taycan is very capable right out of the box. But we crave more, and it finally looks like we’re about to get it.
So we thought we'd share the fun cars that we we have our eye on over the next few years - our Fun Forecast.
Why we're excited: Hyundai's N division makes some of the most exciting affordable performance cars available today. With the Ioniq 5 N, we're seeing their take on what fun means in the electric era. This Ioniq 5 N is packed full of stuff you'd want - like bigger brakes, stickier tires and better aero. It's also full of things that frankly, we could do without - like "simulated" gear shifts and fake engine noises. We tend to think EVs are exciting enough without having to mimic the past, but we love that Hyundai is thinking about emotion. The Ioniq 5 is a great car, and we suspect the N version will make it the best it can be.
Why we're excited: Sure, this Alpine concept might just be a Renault 5 hatchback with the volume turned up, but let's take a moment to appreciate just how wild this rally-inspired concept is. For one, the aerodynamic accoutrements were engineered by Alpine's F1 Team. How many hot hatches can claim that? For two, Alpine has given this car a full race cage, and a 1 + 2 central seating position for the driver, like the legendary McLaren F1. Alpine says 85% of this car will make it to production, including the aero bits but likely NOT including that race-spec interior. The most disappointing thing about this car is that we may not get it here in North America.
Why we're excited: Porsche has already released an excellent EV in the Taycan, but with the 718 Cayman and Boxster the stakes are so much higher. The 718 is a beloved car, and with some even preferring its mid-engined dynamics over the iconic 911. In recent years, Porsche has released holy-grail versions of the 718, including the GT4 RS and Spyder RS - the most raucous and emotional versions of the Cayman and Boxster ever. That's a tough act to follow for any new generation, but now the new 718 is said to offer an EV variant alongside a more traditional gasoline version. Will the EV model be any more or less thrilling than its gasoline sibling? Will it add anything new to the conversation? Can these models inspire the same enthusiasm as the track-focused versions that came before? With the GT4 e-Performance (pictured above), Porsche is hinting at that future car and signaling yes, this EV future belongs in the paddock of your local racing club. If anyone is going to get sporting right, we believe it'll be Porsche.
Why we're excited: Lotus is known for their lightweight-at-all-costs ethos and for making some of the best handling sports cars on planet Earth. For decades, Lotus have been fighting to survive while hand-building brilliant 2-seater, mid-engined sports cars out of a repurposed aircraft hangar in Hethel, England. So what is this then? A state-of-the-art all-electric "hyper GT" with over 900 hp, massaging seats, and motorized LiDar sensors ready to go spec-for-spec with the best EV sedans in the world - Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan? Where has this come from? Well, Wuhan. That's right, Lotus is now owned by Geely, which makes them sisters-of-sorts with Polestar and Volvo. Suddenly Lotus has money to spend and legitimate EV tech in-house, with an ambitious plan to rival Porsche on the world stage. This then is their Taycan fighter, one of several "lifestyle" vehicles that might be great EVs but probably don't adhere to the spartan compromises one has come to expect from this badge. It's no wonder these bigger and heavier EVs tend to ruffle the feathers of the Lotus faithful, but hear us out - we think these new Lotus, while certainly a bold new direction, are very compelling cars in a different way. We're excited to see what a company whose mantras have been "add lightness" and "for the drivers" brings to the world of electrification in the years ahead. Oh, and Lotus will also make pure sports cars. More on this in a moment.
Why we're excited: I don't know if you've noticed, but many of the cars on this list are (or will be) pretty pricy. Let's not ignore then one of the best driver experiences one can have on a budget, the performance-minded John Cooper Works Mini Coopers. This newest generation of Mini Cooper, unveiled just weeks ago, has an estimated 200 miles of range and a footprint that feels very true to form. The not-yet-seen JCW version promises to sharpen what should already be a fun package. Details are limited, including whether or not we can expect to see this newest electric JCW in North America. Stay tuned.
Why we're excited: We already mentioned the Lotus Emeya, but the internally-designated "Type 135" is the car from Lotus we're most excited about. You see, the Lotus Emira (pictured above) is the last gasoline-powered Lotus. It's a bit of a swan song, incorporating the best bits of Lotus into one final, gorgeously-packaged mid-engined sports car. The Type 135 will be Lotus' fully-electric sequel to the Emira, built alongside it in the same factory in Hethel, England and using many of the same materials and processes that have made Lotus cars such phenomenal driver's cars for decades. The Type 135 is said to be a 2-seater sports car in the same spirit, featuring a bonded aluminum chassis just like the excellent Elise, Exige, Evora and Emira. It is also rumored to utilize a mid-mounted chest-style battery pack similar to Evija, Lotus' $2,000,000+ electric hyper car. This configuration means lotus should be able to keep the weight down and the dynamics familiar to classic mid-engined sports cars. If Lotus pulls it off, we think it'll be one of the most exciting EVs of the next few years.
Why we're excited: Call it fashionably late. The Tesla Roadster 2.0 was unveiled way back in 2017, and its specs sent shockwaves through the motoring world: over 600 miles of EV range, a 0-60s time of less than 2 seconds, and a price tag of *only* $250,000, a relative steal given its hyper car stats. There was even some talk of this car being able to hover short distances with some sort of SpaceX package... wut? Here we are about to wrap 2023 and we still haven't seen any Tesla Roadsters rolling off the production line. The latest words is that we'll see some in late 2024, but we haven't seen any smoke to support this fire to date. When this car does reach customers, expect it to shift expectations of what a car is and can do, similar to what the original Tesla Roadster did.
The Fisker Ronin, with its name inspired by the car chase scene in the movie by the same title, is. 4-door hard top convertible *starting* at an eye-watering $385,000. Fisker only plans to make 999 of them, and if you've got the cash to be one of those thousand you'll be treated to 1,000 horsepower, a 0-60 time of 2 seconds flat, and an estimated driving range of 600 miles.
The Polestar 6 is a gorgeous 2+2 hard-top convertible scheduled for release in 2026. Featuring 884 horsepower and over 300 miles of range, this car shows it's more than just ridiculously good looking. Polestar has delivered the rest of their lineup as promised, so we have high hopes on this model. Pre-orders are available now.
Why we're excited: The Alpine A110 is a critical darling for offering sublime lightweight handling in an affordable package. The next version of the A110 is said to be all-electric, which is sure to add a few pounds and perhaps a bit more pounce. Originally, it seemed that Lotus and Alpine were teaming up on a shared platform, but recent news has suggested this collaboration has ceased, and the A110 or re-badged EV replacement will be more of an original from the French automaker. Where the EV powertrain can really change this car's mood is power - the current A110 isn't exactly great at gaining speed, but it's very good at maintaining it especially through the corners. If Alpine can build an EV that wears the name and does the same, we think it'll be a rousing success. This is another that may not make it to North America, though.
Why we're excited: In one of the biggest surprises of the year, boutique automaker Caterham has shown off a striking concept car called the Project V. For those unfamiliar, Caterham is a British sports car builder that offers modernized versions of a Lotus race car originally offered in the 1960s, called the Seven. Over the years Caterham has perfected that formula, and the Caterham Seven is one of the most rewarding pure sports car experiences you can have at any price point, which makes it all the more astonishing that Caterhams can be had for less money than most other sports cars on this list. THIS Caterham though, if it makes it to production, is a different beast. For one, this is the first Caterham with a roof. It's also the first electric Caterham, although they have tinkered with electrifying their Caterham Sevens. This Project V is one of the lightest cars on this list, which means it should be efficient and handle very well. The biggest question around this car will be whether Caterham is able to bring it to market, and then whether they decide to bring it to the U.S. market.
Why we're excited: Few cars are more iconic than the GTI. The original hot hatch has been riffing on their intoxicating formula of affordable fun since the 1970s. Making the GTI electric is a bold statement that signals an entirely new era. In many ways, this is one of VW's most important cars. We've seen this thing in the flesh and we've gotta say, it has real presence and perfect proportions. VW hasn't given much info on this model yet, but production seems likely.
Why we're excited: Toyota has been a little late to the EV party, so we were surprised to see the FT-Se concept unveiled this year at the Japan Mobility Show. With striking mid-engined proportions, we heard the comparison to the "MR2" thrown around quite a bit. Is this the spiritual successor to the MR2? We don't quite think so. For starters, this car is bigger than an MR2, more similar in size and shape to a Lotus Evora. It's also a dual-motor AWD setup, a departure from the RWD MR2s of generations past. Whatever this thing is, it wears a GR badge and looks very fast. To find out how fast it is, we'll have to wait a little longer. Details are still very thin.
Why we're excited: The current Porsche Taycan is one of the very first electric performance cars. Where does the Taycan model sit in Porsche's lineup as other models, including the Macan, Boxster and Cayman, all go at least partially electric? We're excited to find out. There's very little info on this one currently.
Why we're excited: Porsche's Mission X looks like it could be plucked off the grid at Le Mans. With true hyper car proportions, Porsche is signaling this bold new direction could be a new upper echelon for the brand. While details remain very slim, expect this one to be a pricy. The competition is the Rimac Nevera and Lotus Evija, both selling well above 7 figures.
Why we're excited: What if a Countach was reimagined as an electric utility vehicle? We didn't have that question on our 2023 automotive bingo card, but it seems the design team at Lambo may have because they've given us this bonkers concept that is unlike anything the brand has imagined before.
Why we're excited: The Mazda Iconic SP is a svelte 2-seater that appears to us like an homage to the RX-7 of yesteryear. Like those RX-7, the Iconic SP uses a rotary engine, but this time not for propulsion. Instead the lightweight rotary serves as an onboard generator to keep the batteries charged, a recipe Mazda thinks could be a winner in their sports car future. The burning question is just how far in the future are they thinking, we don't have a release date for this one.
What do you think? Did we leave any cars out of this list? Anything fun that you're excited about? Leave us a comment in the feedback form below.