Top 7 small electric cars

Written by Lori Campbell on 12th Jul 2021

Electric vehicles (EVs) make ideal city or ‘runaround’ cars, as they’re easy to drive, nippy to squeeze into parking spaces and far more cost efficient than their diesel or petrol-powered rivals.

Fully electric cars are exempt from congestion charges and road taxes, which can really add up when you’re driving in and out of the city. Their lower price also makes most of them eligible for the government’s plug-in grant, which offers a £2,500 discount on eligible EVs priced under £35,000.

Small electric cars do come with smaller batteries (which means the mileage on a single charge, known as ‘range’, is lower). But with the number of urban charging stations across the UK rapidly increasing, charging a small electric car has never been easier.

Here’s our top seven small electric cars:

1. VW E-Up

Cost: From £12,825
Range: Up to 159 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

Take the rather basic (and much loved for it!) Volkswagen Up, electrify it and you have one of the smartest, simplest entry points into the world of EVs. It’s reassuringly simple, with a small carbon footprint to match its compact size – meaning it’s stress-free to drive around town and won’t terrify technophobes.

If you want to add some personality, you can customise the trim colours (including the roof and wing mirrors). With a battery capacity of 33kWh, the VW E-Up has a reasonable 159-mile range, which will more than suffice for those frequent about-town trips.

2. Peugeot e-208

Cost: From £25,050
Range: Up to 211 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

If you’re thinking of going electric but don’t want to make a song and dance about it, the Peugeot e-208 could be for you. The only thing that visually sets it apart from the regular 208 is the ‘e’ in its name. Compact enough to weave around town and slip into tiny parking spaces, and simple enough not to require a science degree to operate, the e-208 is a brilliant small electric car. It packs a punch in style, and its 211 mile range won’t stress you out either.

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3. Fiat 500 Electric

Cost: From £19,995
Range: Up to 199 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

Another low-key electric option, the new Fiat 500 Electric sits has been launched alongside the lookalike petrol and diesel models. Priced at below £20,000, the Fiat EV is one of the more affordable electric cars and buyers can choose from a 24kWh battery (for 115 miles of range) or a larger 42kWh cell (for up to 199 miles).

It comes with a panoramic sunroof, but if you want to up the style and enjoyment stakes for those warm summer city days, you could choose to go convertible.

4. BMW i3

Cost: From £38,785
Range: Up to 186 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? No

If you’re after the wow factor, and cost isn’t as much of an issue for you, the BMW i3 fits the bill with its futuristic, high tech design. It’s built with F1-spec carbon fibre to save weight and squeeze out every extra mile out of its battery capacity, helping it to manage up to 186-miles on one charge. Although it’s not a big car overall, it has a high roof so four adults will be perfectly comfortable onboard for short journeys. Just watch out for a very small boot.

5. Kia Soul EV

Cost: £34,945
Range: up to 280 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

Under its distinctive, boxy shape lie the same electric insides as the excellent Kia e-Niro, so you get the same 64kWh battery and a 204hp electric motor for ample performance, just in smaller wrapping. Kia says the Soul EV can do 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and can go 280 mile on one charge. The bonus is that it’s also really fun to drive.

6. MINI Electric

Cost: From £26,000
Range: Up to 145 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

The coolest car here, the Mini Electric has the same much-loved, fashionable Mini shape but with zero emissions. It boasts all of the brand’s favourable attributes (smart looks, go-kart handling, and a premium feel) and adds in some of the EV technology from the BMW i3.

This makes for one of the quickest small electric cars on our shortlist, with a 0-62mph time (7.3 seconds) to rival many hot hatchbacks. It’s the smallest car on this list, and as such comes with a fairly cramped cabin and a minuscule boot.

7. Honda e

Cost: From £28,215
Range: Up to 137 miles
Does it qualify for the government’s plug-in grant? Yes

The Honda e is billed as a “spacious small car,” with room – and even legroom – for up to four adults. The rear seats also fold down to create more space when you need it.

It’s packed with personality with a cute, cartoonish design and a high-tech interior that boasts wall-to-wall digital displays instead of the usual instruments. Even the door mirrors have been replaced by cameras and the central display has a built-in aquarium for a soothing, modern vibe.

It’s only downside, which could be a big one for some, is its small 36kWh battery and 137-mile quoted range.

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