Back in the early 2010s if you asked someone to name a small electric car they'd probably pick the G-Wiz. Cramped, lacking in some bare essentials and not troubling the stopwatch off the line, it was about as far from comfortable motoring as it gets.
Happily, the electric car world has moved on. In fact it's unrecognisable from a decade or so ago. That's why today you'll find all manner of high-tech, desirable small electric cars that are perfect for city life but easily capable of longer journeys.
Not only has EV technology and performance improved, the price point has too: from a total cost of ownership perspective (including maintenance, tax and energy) they often make more sense than fuel-powered equivalents. And, if you're anything like the tens of thousands of people who are registering a new electric car each month, you may well find yourself considering your EV options very soon.
The switch to an electric car is currently more attractive than ever. Governments are tightening air pollution regulations and the environmental benefits of curbing oil dependency and CO2 emissions can no longer be ignored. Driving into a busy city knowing you're not pumping anything filthy out the back of your car is certainly satisfying.
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.
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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...
0-62mph: 9 seconds
Range: 199 miles
Max charging speed: 85kW
The Fiat 500 has long been a favourite among small car drivers, and its all-electric counterpart is proving to be no exception.
This retro, urban-friendly electric Fiat 500 offers two battery options. The budget-friendly 24kWh battery provides a range of about 119 miles - perfect for nipping around town without missing a beat. The larger battery offers 42kWh and an impressive range of 199 miles, with more power resulting in quicker acceleration, too.
With four well-equipped trim levels on offer and a convertible option, you’ll never have to choose between chic style and modern technology. The tight turning circle makes city navigating a breeze, while it's also comfortable over lumps and bumps and even a bit more spacious inside than the petrol-powered 500.
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Range: 222 miles
Max charging speed: 100kW
The Vauxhall Corsa is a perennial favourite in the UK market and the electric version of promises to be just as popular as its petrol and diesel predecessors. A healthy 50kWh battery results in a 222-mile range, enough for several days of city jaunts and roaming further afield.
Performance is pretty not far off hot hatch territory, too, and an 80% charge is possible in 30 minutes via rapid charging. Being a larger class of car than the MINI Electric and Honda e also means the Corsa-e has more space so it's more comfortable inside. It's also supremely easy to drive. With less of a design focus than some cars here, the Vauxhall Corsa-e is perfect for those who don't feel the need to shout about their latest new EV.
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Range: 217 miles
Max charging speed: 100kW
Recognise the shape of the Peugeot e-208? That's because its basic structure and components are shared with the Vauxhall Corsa-e (above). But whereas the Vauxhall is the no-nonsense, function over form option, the Peugeot turns up the style and luxury.
You get a more distinctive exterior design with 'claw-effect' LED headlights, while inside the Peugeot feels more special with lashings of classy trim and available 3D-effect digital dials, plus a dinky steering wheel that's become a trademark of newer Peugeots.
Thanks to its 50kW battery, you’ll have a range of 217 miles, and 100kW rapid charging means you'll barely have time to finish that caramel latte before it's ready to go. The smooth suspension offers an even more comfortable ride than the Corsa-e, too. It's one of the smoothest small electric cars you can lease.
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Range: 281 miles
Max charging speed: 135kW
Okay, so the MG4 is actually rather large for a small car, but we've included it in this list because it's still compact enough for urban streets and offers staggering value for money.
MG has become a specialist in bargain electric motoring, and while some cars in this list work best as second cars to a bigger, longer-range family model, the MG4 can save you a packet by doing it all in one. A family of four would have lots of space, and while the cheapest version offers 218 miles on a charge the barely-any-pricier Long Range version manages up to 281 miles.
The MG4 is also good fun to drive both in and out of town, while standard technology even at the entry point includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital dials and the MG Pilot active safety assist package. You'll do a double take at the low cost to lease an MG4.
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Range: 131 miles
Max charging speed: 46kWh
The Honda e looks like a concept car that's escaped the display stand. A brave blend of retro-inspired curves and futuristic elements, the Honda e is a real head-turner and a clever bit of design. Inside it's similarly futuristic, with a whopping five displays including cameras to replace door mirrors, and a clear focus on looks.
The Honda e is a compact car with a modest 35kWh battery, so its maximum range of 137 miles and 46kW charging peak isn't ideal for longer trips. But if you don't need that capability it's an absolutely superb in town. With the motor powering the rear wheels the Honda-e has a tiny turning circle, while it's also agile and comfortable to drive.
Even the standard version provides plenty of about-town zip managing 0-62mph in nine seconds, but the Advance version offers up a punchy 152bhp for a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds. If style and technology matters more than long range and fast charging, then you'll want to lease a Honda e.
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 265 miles
Max charging speed: 120kW
Like the MG4 the Volkswagen ID.3 stretches the definition of 'small car', offering easily enough space to serve as most people's main family car. But that doesn't make it cumbersome around town. Far from it, in fact, with rear-wheel drive allowing it to turn on a dime and clever glass A-pillar design offering excellent all-round visibility.
The ID.3 is still pretty affordable despite its strong specs and quality image, particularly as base versions get a 10-inch touchscreen and plenty of safety and convenience features. Fast charging speeds and a range of up to 265 miles also mean the ID.3 lends itself well to longer trips, while it has the low noise levels and rolling comfort to make those journeys relaxing and fuss-free. It's a superb all-round electric car to lease.
ORA Funky Cat
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Range: 193 miles
Max charging speed: 64kW
Don't like following the herd? Prefer to look outside the establishment? Or perhaps you have an affinity for our feline friends? All your needs are catered for by the ORA Funky Cat. Yes, that really is its name...
With its cute face and futuristic rear-end you'd be forgiven for thinking the ORA Funky Cat is pure style over substance. But that's unfair because it also has some premium touches including a posh-looking cabin, advanced voice control system and (on First Edition trim) dual 10.25-inch screens.
The ORA Funky Cat is also bigger than you might expect, being similar in size to the MG4. That means a good amount of space, and although it doesn't offer a particularly sporty drive it's pretty comfortable and quiet. A decent range makes it suitable for the odd longer run but the key appeal here is that the Funky Cat shows you're thinking outside the box when leasing a small electric car.
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
Range: 161 miles
Max charging speed: 40kW
If you like the idea of a simple, back-to-basics small electric car that really is small, then look no further than the Volkswagen e-Up! As the electric version of the popular and capable Up! city car, it's perfect for town dwellers as it's an absolute doddle to drive down tight streets and zip through snarled up traffic.
Despite its dinky size the e-Up! is very well packaged, meaning it's possible to give three of your mates a lift across town and still have enough room in the boot for a light shopping spree. It isn't the most showy offering here but many like its no-nonsense approach, solid feel and surprisingly comfortable ride.
Being light it's very efficient, punching above its weight with a 161-mile range from a petite 36.8kWh battery. Performance is great for town but it's only up for the occasional motorway jaunt, partly because its peak charging speed is the lowest in this list. Still, it's somewhat of a bargain small electric car to lease.
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Range: 238 miles
Max charging speed: 46kW
One of the OGs of the electric car scene alongside the Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe offers a tried-and-tested small EV experience.
Upgrades throughout the years have kept it in contention, with a modern interior design, a capable infotainment system and a longer range than you might expect. Up to 238 miles on a charge is promised from a 52kWh battery, and Renault gives you the option to add 50kW rapid charging if you need that capability or leave it out to keep costs down.
It won't make a statement and lacks some of the newest safety equipment, yet it's an accomplished town runabout that's appealingly affordable to lease.
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 145 miles
Max charging speed: 50kW
You don't keep an icon alive just on style alone these days, and the instantly recognisable MINI majors on being fun to drive. Going for the MINI Electric only boosts that appeal, with instant and punchy performance to go with its sporty, grippy handling. It'll put a smile on your face even after a bad day at the office.
That 182bhp of power means it'll hold its own on the open road too, although with 145 miles of range it's definitely more at home as a commuter car. MINI being owned by BMW is clear to see inside, too, with an impressively high quality cabin and easy to use infotainment system.
The boot and rear seats aren't exactly brimming with space, so the compact and easy to park MINI Electric isn't going to make it as a family car. But then it doesn't need to - this small car is all about the looks, the cabin and the driving experience, making it a strong choice to lease.