Best small electric cars 2023
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
Small cars powered by electricity are a perfect match in many respects. Their relatively light weight means batteries can last longer, while all the power from the electric motor is much more effective when you're blasting around town between junctions and traffic lights.
The only problem is, where you'd normally expect a small car to be cheap, these electric versions have price tags akin to what you'd expect from a larger family hatchback or crossover. While you will save on various running costs such as fuel and road tax down the line, it's difficult to ignore that up-front expense if you don't have the cash to spare.
The introduction of an increasing number of small electric cars has meant prices are beginning to get a little more competitive though, and some of these models are now much more affordable on the used car market. You can pick up a good value electric car from just £4,995 or £104.71 per month on BuyaCar.
Best small electric cars
Best small electric car for a budget-friendly desirable model
Our pick Mini Electric Level 2
Used deals Limited stock
While it doesn't offer class-leading performance or range, the Mini Electric strikes a good balance between these and outright cost. New, the Mini Electric costs from £26,000 but there are already good deals to be had on BuyaCar.
The 32.6kWh battery is good for around 140 miles off a single charge, making it one of the most efficient electric cars in terms of miles per kWh.
While it's similar in size to the petorl- and diesel-powered Mini Hatchback, it's only available with three doors and four seats. All models come with sat-nav, air-con and Apple CarPlay, but if you want things like a reversing camera, a larger media display or a panoramic roof, expect to fork out a lot more.
Best small electric car for a long range
There's a new Renault Zoe on sale now, and it's been showered with new tech and performance improvements. 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.
With used prices on BuyaCar currently starting from £5,495, it's stil not what you would call cheap, but you are getting a very capable small 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.
Best small electric car for interior space
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 £11,897 from BuyaCar, with finance payments from £225.11 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 around 190 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.
Best small electric car for outright efficiency
If you want the most miles per kWh of electricity, you'll be looking at the new electric-only Fiat 500. With the smallest battery pack and 93hp electric motor, it promises 4.8 mi/kWh. You'll have to make do without a touchscreen media system in this entry-level version, though, instead making do with a smartphone cradle.
Mid-spec models - with more standard equipment - manage a still impressive 4.4 mi/kWh, while the soft-top version claims just 4.2 mi/kWh.
Much like the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, the Fiat 500's regenerative braking system will bring the car to a complete stop, which should mean you use the brake pedal less. Most other electric cars reduce the speed to a steady crawl at around 2mph. Naturally, this electric car uses an automatic gearbox so town driving should be less stressful.
Best small electric car for not standing out
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. There are electric versions of the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii, too, so be sure to compare specs of each to make sure you're getting what you want.
Best small electric car for familiarity
Our pick Vauxhall Corsa-e Elite Nav
Used deals Limited stock
Chances are, you're already familiar with the Vauxhall Corsa. A new version was introduced in 2020, and while there are petrol and diesel versions available, Vauxhall built an electric model at the same time. It looks virtually identical to its conventionally powered counterparts, and shares the 50kWh battery and 136hp electric motor from many other Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen models, including the similarly sized Peugeot e-208.
Best small electric car for crossover styling
Our pick Peugeot e-2008 GT
Used deals Limited stock
We're not saying the e-2008 is a small car, but many drivers find crossovers appealing and the e-2008 is about as small as it gets. It uses the same 50kWh battery and 136hp electric motor found in other Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall cars, so should be good for around 200 miles in the real world.
It's built on the same platform as the Vauxhall Mokka-e, but we think the Peugeot's styling is more appealing. While it's more expensive to start with, standard equipment is strong and includes air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and LED headlights.
Best small electric car for parking
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 ability to turn in very tight spaces 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.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.