When small, fully-electric cars first hit the mainstream UK market in the early 2000s, you may have thought of them as science fiction come to life. Or perhaps they seemed like something that would never be practical for you and your lifestyle (and definitely not your wallet!).
Since then, not only has EV technology and performance improved, the price point has too. And, if you're anything like the more than 15,000 people who are registering a new electric car each month, you may well find yourself considering your electric options very soon.
In fact, the switch to an electric car is currently more attractive than ever. Government regulations are tightening air pollution regulations, petrol prices are entering the realm of the ridiculous, and the environmental benefits of curbing oil dependency and CO2 emissions can no longer be ignored.
So, you've made your mind up. You’re sold on an EV. Where do you start? With the popularity and variety of small electric cars growing by the day, what should you be looking for in yours? And most importantly, which small electric cars are going to offer you the most value for money? Well, we’ve got you covered.
We've created a list of the ten of the best small electric cars on the market today.
Want to get straight to our favourite electric cars of 2022?
What’s the best small electric car for you?
So, let’s take a look at our list of some of the best small electric cars on the market right now. There’s definitely something here for everyone...
01. Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 has long been a favourite among small car drivers, and its all-electric counterpart is proving to be no exception.
This sleek, sporty electric Fiat 500 offers two battery options.
There’s the budget-friendly 24kWh battery, which provides a range of about 119 miles, perfect for shorter commutes and nipping around town without missing a beat. With 94bhp, you’ll dash from 0-62 in a respectable 9.5 seconds.
This model also offers 50kW rapid charging capability, so you won’t need longer than 60 minutes to get a full charge when out and about.
The larger battery offers 42kWh and an impressive range of 199 miles, while providing 116bhp. Thanks to that extra power, the acceleration you feel is instant, making its response even more satisfying. And because of the 85kW rapid charge ability, you’ll be able to ‘fill’ the battery in under 30 minutes.
The performance and options offered in the new electric Fiat 500 deliver satisfying urban driving and modern functionality.
With four trim levels on offer and a convertible option, you’ll never have to choose between chic style and modern technology upgrades. And there’s plenty to like about the impressive infotainment system and optional 7.0-inch or 10.25-inch touchscreen displays.
The drive mode selector takes you from normal to Sherpa, helping you stretch battery range, and the tight turning radius makes city navigating a breeze. The suspension and regenerative braking features are also a plus for our sometimes-unforgiving roads.
02. Vauxhall Corsa-e
A perennial favourite in the UK market, the electric version of the Vauxhall Corsa promises to be just as popular as its petrol and diesel predecessors.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e brings the notable advantage of a 50kWh battery. This means you’ll get an average range of 209 miles, making both city jaunts and roaming farther afield a very real possibility.
Home charging can be done in only 6 hours, but there’s also a 110kW DC charging capability, so ‘filling up’ can be as fast as 30 minutes at public charging points. And the 134bhp motor offers not only a quick response but gets you from 0-62 in just eight seconds, which is faster than many EVs in the same category.
The Corsa-e also offers benefits through its drive modes, extended wheelbase, firm suspension, and a roomy interior compared to many of its competitors.
Both the longer wheelbase and firmer suspension are a result of the requirements the larger battery brings. However, they also assist in providing a smoother ride and a bit more room for passengers and cargo.
Available drive modes range from Eco and Normal to Sport, with Eco helping to boost range, and Sport maximising battery performance. The addition of regenerative braking also means you can get more time between plugging in.
There’s not much missing from the tech features of the Vauxhall Corsa-e either. While the 7.0-inch screen on the infotainment system is slightly smaller than other EVs in this class, the graphics are clear and extremely user-friendly. The rear parking sensors and adaptive LED headlights are standard, and the smartphone integration means both Apple and Android users will be pleased.
03. Peugeot e-208
The new Peugeot e-208 offers all the benefits of EVs with the more traditional look and feel of its petrol counterparts. In fact, until you sit behind the wheel, you might not even know it’s electric.
The e-208 has also got the EV basics well-covered.
Thanks to its 50kW battery, you’ll have a range of 217 miles. When you opt for the 100kW DC charging capability, you can get back on the road in about 30 minutes. And not to be overlooked, the 134bhp electric motor can boost you from 0-62 in an impressive 8.1 seconds. You’ll definitely appreciate that zippy acceleration in urban areas!
And Peugeot’s sophisticated styling is echoed in the interior and tech conveniences of the e-208.
While the steering wheel is smaller to allow full viewing of the sporty iCockpit digital instruments, the 7.0-inch touchscreen of the infotainment system offers full control of internal systems.
Smartphone integration is standard, so you’ll find a seamless transition going from phone to car. And notably, the passenger and boot capacity of the e-208 is comparable with its fossil-fuel versions, making it among the largest of the EVs in this class.
04. Honda e
If you’re thinking that the Honda e has pretty unique, eye-catching styling for a small, fully electric hatchback, you’re not wrong. A brave blend of retro-inspired curves and futuristic elements, the Honda e strikes a balance between EV form and function.
Although the compact size of the car contains an equally compact battery size of 35kWh, you can still expect to get a range of roughly 137 miles. So, while it might not be ideal for long journeys, daily city driving and short commutes shouldn’t pose a problem at all.
As with many other EVs in this category, it comes standard with a 100kW DC charge capability, so speedy charge-ups are at your fingertips. And there will be no lack of power at traffic lights either, as the rear-mounted 134bhp motor provides plenty of zip. But if you’re looking for more power, the Advance model gives you an even heftier 152bhp, which takes you from 0-62 in 8.3 seconds.
The performance and interior features of the Honda e also impress.
The rear-mounted motor helps to give this EV an absolutely tiny turning radius, and the responsive handling hugs the road and grips through corners. A firmer suspension manages to keep the ride fairly smooth, and the regenerative braking ensures that coming to a stop is as well.
Inside, those futuristic elements hinted at on the outside are just as impressive, with a whopping 5 computer displays surrounding you, including door mirror cameras. And even though the interior space is obviously on the smaller side, there’s lots of other safety and functional tech intended to make your time inside more enjoyable.
05. Volkswagen ID.3
The Volkswagen ID.3 is a very worthy offering from the historic make, in a sophisticated, family-sized EV form. It’s not only one of the largest EVs in its class but it’s also based on a bespoke e-platform.
VW offers the ID.3 with a choice of battery sizes, going from 45kWh to 77kWh, all of which provide the commensurate range, power and performance. The 45kWh battery comes with a 217-mile range and 148bhp. The largest model gives you a 77kWh battery, a 201bhp motor, and promises a massive range of 336 miles which is comparable with its fossil-fuel counterparts.
The performance and interior features of the Volkswagen ID.3 are also admirably well-equipped.
Although a stiffer suspension is required for the heavier battery, the ride is still relatively smooth. The handling is excellent overall, and you can expect good responsiveness.
All models of the ID.3 come standard with 10-inch infotainment screens and Apple/Android smartphone integration. Of course, with the various models you’ll also have a selection of ‘bells-and-whistles’ options, but even the base level ID.3 will wow you with standard safety and convenience features.
06. Seat Mii electric
If you were a fan of the petrol version of the Seat Mii, you’ll be pleased that this electric version sticks close to its former sibling in many respects. Except under the bonnet, of course.
This is Seat’s first all-electric model, so they made sure to check all the right boxes for those in the market for a zero-emission small car.
The Mii electric offers a 38.6kWh battery, which will provide about 160 miles of range, and an 84bhp motor. That may not be ideal for long-haul journeys, but it’s perfect for city driving and short commutes. That’s where these smaller vehicles exceed after all, and that’s where they can really show off when it comes to performance and pep.
The Mii electric also comes standard with a 40kW DC charger, so you’ll still be able to ‘fill up’ in just under an hour at public charge points.
While the Mii electric may not be as flashy or futuristic as some others in its class, the styling is still sleek – and quite clever.
The battery is located under the floor, so it doesn’t cut space from either the rear seats or the boot. The performance is quick and responsive.
Again, perfect for the city. And to keep the car both practical and affordable, the Mii electric’s infotainment system is smartphone-based. This means you’ll still get hands-free, satnav, streaming music and all the other perks you’d hope for in a smart, sassy EV.
07. Volkswagen e-Up!
We add to our list with a second, very worthy, contribution from Volkswagen, the e-Up! While the petrol version of the Up! is still in production, the EV makes only subtle changes to its styling – but there are plenty of perks where they’re needed.
The 36.8kWh battery in this compact EV can manage a respectable range of 160 miles, and with 82bhp in the motor, you’ll still be quick off the line when it counts.
If you need to charge up when out and about, you’ll only need to wait about 90 minutes from empty when using a rapid charger.
The smaller size of the e-Up! means that navigating urban streets will be a breeze. The ride is comfortable, and accurate steering makes it good fun to drive. And as with many other cars in this category, the regenerative braking system not only makes for smoother stops but more efficient battery use.
The overall interior design is sleek, but not obnoxiously so, and very driver-centric.
You won’t feel like the captain of a starship, but you’ll still feel pretty sporty. The e-Up! also shares a couple of intelligent design features with the Seat Mii above.
You obviously wouldn’t expect an IMAX screen to fit in this little gem, so the infotainment system in the e-Up! is powered by your smartphone. T
hat means you’ll still have all the comfort, convenience and smart features you’d expect from a modern EV, just in a more cost-effective way. And thanks to the under-floor mounting of the battery, the interior and boot space is not compromised at all.
08. Renault Zoe
As this EV has been on the market for some time, Renault has opted to introduce a few upgrades, inside and out, to the latest electric Zoe.
Under the bonnet you’ll find an upgraded 55kWh battery, and two motor options of either 107bhp or 134bhp. But brace yourself – this diminutive car is pretty long on range, and you’ll be able to travel up to about 245 miles on a charge.
The standard model comes with a 22kW DC charger, which will take about 3 hours on a rapid charger to ‘fill up.’ Or you can opt to upgrade to the 50kW charger, which will roughly halve that time to charge up at a public charge point.
If you will mainly be using the Zoe to zip around city streets or for shorter commutes, the standard 7.4kWh will manage a home charge overnight. While it has the range to travel further afield, city driving is quick and responsive, and with the light controls, it might actually make rush hour fun.
The interior is where the Zoe really stands out though.
Some other small EVs in this class might feel the need to skimp on design, but not this one. Everything is in perfect reach, with sensible placement.
While the rear seats don’t offer as much room as others in the class, the modern design feels thoroughly inventive, in a very practical way. The standard model offers a bright 7.0-inch infotainment system, but you can upgrade and get a larger 9.3-inch display.
And though the Zoe comes with a very capable system, you can choose to use your own set-up through your smartphone, which is a handy option.
09. BMW i3
You were probably expecting a BMW to be on our list, and you were right. The prestigious name was one of the forerunners in the EV market, and it’s kept the i3 in the running as a contender on most people’s shortlists.
In the latest versions of the i3, BMW has upped the battery size to around 42.2kWh, which will realistically give you a range of about 160 miles.
There’s a 22kWh DC capability that will get you fully charged in about 3 hours, or you can pick the 50kWh DC upgrade to get the job done in about 35 minutes. The standard model has a pretty powerful 170bhp motor, while the upgraded model comes with a peppy 184bhp. But as both are rear-wheel drive, make no mistake, they can still push you back in your seat off the line!
With an improved suspension, while you might still feel some of the bumps, the i3 has made great strides in smoothing out the ride. As the revolutionary carbon-fibre design was introduced to help reduce the overall weight, handling feels more agile, and the drive more responsive.
You might find that the exterior and interior design of the i3 can be, as with many small EVs, a bit divisive. BMW aimed to make a small electric car that really stood out from the pack, and it has.
As we saw in the Honda e, this car really does look futuristic. The interior design is among the best in its class, and though the rear seats are on the small side, the larger windows make it feel bright and airy.
Of course, upgraded models will offer more in terms of styling, but even the standard model has a 10.25-inch infotainment display, and smart tech that wows.
10. MINI electric
We round out our list of the best small electric cars of 2022 with a perennial UK classic. The MINI electric has found pride of place on the roads right alongside its petrol forerunner.
The 32.6kWh battery in the MINI electric will give you about 140 miles of range, which makes it pretty ideal as a city and short-commute EV.
With its 50kW DC capability, you’ll be able to charge up in under an hour – just time to nip in for a latte and a bite to eat while you wait. Possibly the most striking performance feature comes from the 182bhp motor that propels you from 0-60 in just over 7 seconds.
That’s power you’ll be able to feel, both darting through city traffic and on the motorway. With a choice of driving modes, The MINI electric also offers good grip and sportier handling, which will make driving fun – no matter where you’re headed.
And of course, the MINI electric packs a punch when it comes to outright stylish design and modern, intuitive features.
The brand has always been funky, even when the petrol/diesel incarnation first hit the scene in 1959, so the sleek, retro feel of the EV model rings true.
The standard and mid-level models offer a 6.5-inch infotainment display, while the top model provides an 8.8-inch screen. And though the rear seats and boot are slightly smaller than might be desirable, the comfortable front seating, smartphone adaptability, and innovative tech features definitely sweeten the deal.
If you’re looking for the best small electric car, visit our leasing page for more information.
What do you need to know before going electric?
Let’s start with the basics. The most important terms in your new electric car lexicon will be kWh, range, and charging. These will most likely be the deciding factors that will take your EV from a pipe dream to a practical reality.
The term kWh refers to kilowatt-hour, the measurement of energy your car’s battery can hold. This dictates how long it can take to charge, and how far you can go on that charge. That means you’ll need to consider how you will be using your EV.
Will you mainly be driving short distances around your town or city, or will you be wanting to venture further out from your home? The lower the kWh, the smaller your battery, and the smaller the battery, the smaller the distance you can travel on one charge.
You’ll also need to consider charging.
Generally, you’ll do most of your charging at home, which should be the least expensive (but also slowest charging) option. Home charging can be done on a standard three-pin plug, using AC to charge. This method is usually restricted to about 2.3kW, which means charging even the smallest EV can take over 10 hours.
Because of this, most EV manufacturers recommend getting a home wallbox, and some even offer free installation. This can up the charging ‘oomph’ to around 7kW, easily getting the job done – usually overnight.
The third option, rapid charging, is only offered in public settings. That’s because rapid chargers use DC, which is much more powerful, and therefore can ‘fill’ your EV’s battery faster, typically at a rate of 40-150kW. To put that in perspective, just 30 minutes at a rapid charger can give you up to 200 miles of range.
Rapid chargers are popping up everywhere – gone are the worries about being caught out on the road. Paying is simple too. All you’ll need to start charging your EV at a rapid charger is an app or a contactless RFID card.
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