Best cordless drills 2018

Which of these powerful cordless drills is our pick for DIY jobs on the car? Read on to find out…

A cordless drill is one of the more useful power tools you can own when working on a car. As well as drilling, it comes into its own as a screwdriver, sander and buffer, plus for wire-brushing, and all without the hassle of a power cable. 

Advances in motors and batteries mean most give little away to mains drills. Measured in Amp hours (Ah), a bigger battery gives more running time but costs and weighs more, and with a spare battery you can use one while the other is charging. 

• Essential workshop tools and garage equipment 

A hammer function is useful for household/garage DIY, and limited torque settings help stop damage to screws. A case keeps everything tidy.

How we tested them

We used each product on a number of tough tests, including screwing large screws into wood, drilling into steel and aluminium and wire-brushing, to rate the torque and drain the battery. 

Accessories were noted, as were features such as an LED light, case, the number of torque settings, battery number/output and technical spec. A battery condition indicator on the drill was a definite plus. Balance and weight is important, especially for longer tasks. Warranty and price were the final factors. 

Verdict

Hitachi’s cost-effective drill kit balances great performance with two batteries to win. The Ryobi does well first time out, with only a few niggles, and the Wolf 18v is a cracking buy at the price.

  • 1. Hitachi DV18DBFL2/JM Brushless Combi Drill Kit
  • 2. Draper Storm Force 20V Cordless Hammer Drill 89523
  • 3. Ryobi R18PD3-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Compact Percussion Drill
  • ReviewsHitachi DV18DBFL2/JM Brushless Combi Drill Kit

    Price: Around £150
    Batteries: 2 x 3Ah
    Rating: 5.0

    Big numbers here, with the Hitachi hammer drill boasting the highest no-load speed at 1,800rpm, the top torque figure at 70Nm and the second most torque settings. The complex case with compartments for everything was as impressive. Its brushless motor was predictably smooth and powerful, and aced all our tests. With a 3Ah battery it came in at 1.7kg, a good balance between work time and weight, and at 185mm long it was nifty to use. Two more LEDs on the battery indicator would be nice, but that’s our only gripe. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Draper Storm Force 20V Cordless Hammer Drill 8952

    Price: £89.99  Batteries: 2 x 2Ah
    Rating: 4.5

    The Storm Force is a stylish, well-made drill that features Draper’s interchange battery system, where one powerpack fits a range of products. The hard plastic case includes two 2Ah batteries and a one-hour quick charger. Two speeds is typical of the breed, with a maximum of 440rpm and 1,400rpm, and the 22 torque settings match the Hitachi’s. It weighs almost the same as the Hitachi and the left or right-handed grip is welcome. While it’s not quite as well balanced, because it’s 50mm longer, it’s wieldy in use. Our five-minute wire-brushing test works batteries hard and took its toll here; just one of the three LEDs was lit (10-25 per cent) afterwards. Higher-capacity 4Ah batteries are available, but cost more. Still, this is a very impressive drill at a keen price.

    Buy now from Draper Tools

    Ryobi R18PD3-0 18V ONE+ Cordless Compact Percussion Drill

    Price: Around £149
    Batteries: 1 x 4Ah
    Rating: 4.5

    Ryobi’s clever ONE+ system means the battery fits 70-plus cordless tools, economic if you stick to the range. The 50Nm motor impressed, especially as it isn’t brushless, and we liked the drive selector (drill/screw/hammer) lever on top of the motor. There’s no case or bag, which seems odd. This is also the longest and heaviest drill here, at 210mm and 2.1kg, so it’s not as easy to use as some. Our price includes one battery, but at the end of our test, three out of four LEDs were still lit. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Wolf 18v Li-Ion Combi Impact Drill 

    Price: Around £73
    Batteries: 2 x 1.5Ah
    Rating: 4.0

    Another fine drill from Wolf complete with two batteries at a very sharp price. Even though it isn’t brushless, the motor was very powerful, with a no-load speed of 1,500rpm. Quoted torque was 28Nm, but we had no problems on our tests. The 1.5Ah battery kept the weight down to 1.3kg, helping balance the fairly long 205mm device. It was one of three to come in a soft, padded, rather than plastic, case, which was more fiddly to use and not as protective. No battery condition indicator, but the great price compensated for that. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Panasonic Li-Ion Brushless Combi Hammer Drill kit EY74A2LJ2G31

    Price: £264
    Batteries: 2 x 5Ah
    Rating: 4.0

    With the biggest battery on test, the Panasonic weighed 2kg, but this was balanced by fine performance from the 50Nm brushless motor. It spun effortlessly to its max no-load speed of 1,580rpm and a length of just 175mm made the drill easier to use than its weight suggested. It breezed all our tests, making it hard to imagine what you’d have to do to flatten that huge battery; all the LEDs were still shining at the end. With case, hammer action and three-year warranty, it’s a gem, at a price. 

    Buy now from My Tool Shed

    Wolf 20v Professional Combi Drill Kit

    Price: Around £120
    Batteries: 1 x 3Ah, 1 x 4Ah
    Rating: 4.0

    The only 20v drill on test has two batteries, of different sizes. At 1.9kg with the 4Ah option, it was heavier than its 18v sibling, longer and pricier, but like all the range, has a two-year warranty. The 35Nm motor made light work of all our jobs and still showed two out of three LEDs at the end. We’d niggle at only 16 torque settings and the soft bag, but it swallowed drill, accessories, one-hour charger and both batteries. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Clarke CON18LIC 18V Brushless Combi Drill/Driver

    Price: Around £132
    Batteries: 2 x 2Ah
    Rating: 3.5

    Our cheapest brushless machine was lighter than the other two, yet has just a 2Ah battery. It matches the Panasonic with 50Nm of torque, so aced the wood screw tests, although we could have used more torque settings; we had to turn to the drill at one point. High max speed of 1,500rpm meant strong wire brushing, and while the battery didn’t go flat, with no LED indicators, we had to guess. Single-year warranty seems mean, too.

    Buy now from Machine Mart

    GMC GCHD18 18V Combi Hammer Drill

    Price: Around £76
    Batteries: 1 x 1.5Ah
    Rating: 3.0

    Well made and comfortable, the 1.6kg GMC has grippy rubber sections on the handle. We liked the LEDs on the single battery and the supplied drill and driver bits. But while you can strap battery and drill into the soft bag, it’s still more fiddly than a case. At the end one LED was lit, and although performance was adequate, its lowest-on-test no-load speed of 1,200rpm meant it was working harder much of the time. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Sealey CP14VLD Li-ion Drill/Driver

    Price: Around £48
    Batteries: 1 x 1.3Ah
    Rating: 3.0

    The Sealey was outgunned from the off on paper, with its 14.4v motor and single 1.3Ah power pack. Both were the lowest figures on test, as was the price, but it stacked up well against some serious rivals. Weighing in at just 1.1kg, it was a joy to use and handled the torque-sapping screw tests well. Four minutes into five minutes of wire brushing, the last of three LEDs went out, but a good performance overall and one to consider for the sporadic user. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    For more products group test reviews take a look at our accessories and tyres hub page.

    Next: Bosch PSB 18Li-2

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