Best small electric cars

Urban, chic, and near-silent. The best small electric cars are ideal for city driving, and can go further than you think

Simon Ostler
Mar 26, 2020

Electric power and small cars have always been a natural fit. Their nippy acceleration is ideal in town, where shorter 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 expense of small electric cars to unaffordable levels. A reduction in the government grant towards the cost of a new car hasn't helped either when you compare to the cost of an equivalent petrol or diesel model.

But electric car prices are beginning to fall, especially on the used market, where you can pick up a good value electric car from just £6,500 or £127 per month on BuyaCar. So if you are on the look out for an electric car that's going to save you money, there's never been a better time to make a purchase.

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. If the second generation Renault Zoe is anything to go by, we could be in for a treat.

Best small electric cars

1. Skoda Citigoe iV

Best small electric car for driving range

Used deals Limited stock

This is a new arrival on the small electric car scene for 202, but the Skoda Citigoe iV 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 stretching out 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 as a cheaper alternative.

While you don't get rapid charging, or as many gadgets inside, the cheaper SE trim will give buyers an opportunity to save some money if they need to.

2. Renault Zoe

Best small electric car for the latest tech

Used deals from £23,000
Monthly finance from £345

There's an all-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.

Prices for this new model are slightly higher than you might have seen on the previous generation version. 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. 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 range, and rapid charging making a full charge possible in just 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 make much more comprehensive use of.

3. BMW i3

Best small electric car for interior space

Used BMW i3 deals from £13,990
Monthly finance from £257

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 £18,000 from BuyaCar, with finance payments from £270 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. 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.

BMW i3 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Smart EQ ForTwo

Best small electric car for parking

Used Smart ForTwo deals from £12,995
Monthly finance from £193

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 quick to accelerate and considerably quieter. The car is 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 FOURTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. VW e-Up

Best small electric car for nippiness

Used VW e-Up deals Limited stock

Fitting batteries and an electric motor to the Up has had quite an impact on this little Volkswagen’s price. The expensive conversion means that it’s almost the same price as a much larger Nissan Leaf, and considerably more than the Smart ForTwo. It’s had a considerable impact on sales, in the sense that very few people buy one.

If you do see one of the used models for a reasonable discount, it’s worth a look because it’s an excellent car. The electric motor provides faster acceleration than the petrol-powered Up 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.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

 

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Luxury car finance deals

  2. Seven-seater plug-in cars

  3. Best nearly new car deals

What our customers say