Best small electric cars

Stylish, easy to drive and quiet. The best small electric cars are ideal for city driving and can go further than you think on one charge

Simon Ostler
Oct 15, 2020

Electric power and small cars have always been a natural fit. The instant punch of an electric motor is ideal around town, while shorter urban journeys mean that you shouldn't need to worry about recharging until you get home.

The only problem has been the high battery costs that have pushed up the cost of small electric cars to unaffordable levels in the past. This has meant that electric cars typically cost more than an equivalent petrol or diesel model, but this is starting to change and drivers now have far more choice of used electric cars at ever lower price points.

With electric car prices beginning to fall, especially on the used market, you can pick up a good value electric car from just £6,395 or £117 per month on BuyaCar. So if you are on the look out for an electric car that's going to save you money in purchase costs and fuel bills, there's never been a better time to get one.

With a huge influx of small electric cars expected over the next few years, we're excited to see what car manufacturers can come up with. Models such as the Renault Zoe have been on sale for a number of years, but there are more and more small car rivals coming to take it on, offering ever more features.

Best small electric cars

1. Skoda Citigoe iV

Best small electric car for low costs

Used deals Limited stock

The electric Skoda Citigoe iV may have sold in small numbers, but it has already made a pretty substantial impression. It's just as fun to drive as the original (now discontinued) petrol Citigo, but it's been dramatically improved by virtue of its electric motor.

Mechanically similar to the Volkswagen e-Up and Seat Mii Electric, the Citigoe iV is powered by an 82hp electric motor and a 36.8kWh battery capable of offering up 165 miles of range with a single charge.

The difference between the three models though, and why we've picked the Skoda over the Seat, is because the Citigoe iV is available at a cheaper price point, which should be just as true for used models as it was when the cars were in showrooms.

2. Renault Zoe

Best small electric car for the greatest range per charge

Used deals from £23,000
Monthly finance from £334

There's a new Renault Zoe on sale now, and it's been showered with new tech and performance improvements. As the only second-generation electric car on this list, it's understandable that this new Zoe has got the best battery and the best electric motor, as it's been steadily evolved over the years.

New prices for this version are slightly higher than you might have seen on the previous generation model. That's partly down to the fact Renault has decided to scrap its battery-leasing scheme. Now all Zoes come with the battery included in the price of the car - whether you finance the car or pay cash, unlike in the past when you had to lease the battery, however you paid for the car.

So prices upwards of £25,000 might be a bit steep, but you are getting a very capable car for your money. With its cutting edge 52kWh battery delivering a 245-mile claimed range, and fast charging making a full charge possible in as little as three hours, the Zoe has become more than just a city car restricted to a daily run to the shops. This is an electric car you can realistically use for all of your journeys.

3. BMW i3

Best small electric car for interior space

Used BMW i3 deals from £14,295
Monthly finance from £211

Small it might be, but the BMW i3 has plenty of space for the family thanks to its roomy interior. The batteries are stored underneath the flat floor and the bonnet is short, as there's no engine underneath.

It's nippy, nimble and well built. The i3 also offers lots of choice: used models built until mid-2016 have a real-world range of around 90 miles between charges and currently start at £14,500 from BuyaCar, with finance payments from £211 per month.

Since 2017, most BMW i3 models were updated versions called 94Ah, after their upgraded battery, which increases the real-world range to around 124 miles, with newer models offering up to 188 miles per charge.

Finally, there’s the new BMW i3s, a sportier version of the car, which has a little more power and slightly faster acceleration. It's more responsive when you want to change direction too, making it more enjoyable to drive.

BMW i3 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Smart EQ ForTwo

Best small electric car for parking

Used Smart ForTwo deals from £13,491
Monthly finance from £204

Electric Smart cars were renamed EQ in early 2018; before then, they were known as Smart Electric Drive. Apart from the name, little has changed.

That’s not a bad thing, because the battery-powered versions are the best Smarts available. Unlike the petrol-powered cars, these are relatively quick to accelerate and considerably quieter. The car is at its best in cities, where its quick steering and tight turning circle help you to glide through traffic and into small parking spaces.

The car’s real-world range in the city is somewhere between 60 and 80 miles, but on faster roads, that’ll drop considerably as the little motor is forced to work overtime. Despite its small two-seat layout, the little Smart is fairly practical; by ditching a passenger and folding down their seat, you can slide a big suitcase, or even a set of drawers in.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. VW e-Up

Best small electric car for nippiness

Used VW e-Up deals from £14,795
Monthly finance from £239

Fitting batteries and an electric motor to the Up had quite an impact on this little Volkswagen’s price when new, meaning that it was almost the same price as the much larger Nissan Leaf, and considerably more than the Smart ForTwo. Thankfully it's much better value as a used car.

If you do see one of the used models for a good price, it’s worth a look because it’s an excellent car. The electric motor provides faster acceleration than the standard petrol-powered Up models and the low-mounted batteries barely affect the car’s manoeuvrability and agility in corners.

Unlike many cars that have been converted to electric power, boot space in the e-Up has not been affected, so you’ll still have 251 litres, which is plenty for a weekly shop and a substantial amount for such a small car.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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