We provide the best affordable electric city cars, superminis and family cars on sale today
If an electric car is to stand out somewhere, it is in the supermini segment – particularly with the recent changes to the £ 2500 government plug-in car concession, which now applies only to cars with a list price below £ 35,000.
It is true that a small platform means less space for batteries and, therefore, the range of the following cars will never match the potential of larger alternatives. But a small battery also means a lower asking price, and if we’re talking about urban bums who only make occasional long trips, it’s debatable how many owners would need more than, say, 180 miles of autonomy.
1. Peugeot e-208
The all-electric version of the 208 supermini is one of several compact EVs from the PSA Group that hit the market in 2020, but it is the best price and also the most visually appealing. For its mix of usable range, performance, value, practicality, style, perceived quality and driver appeal, it clearly deserves prominence if you are buying your first electric car this year. Bigger, perhaps, than any other small electric car.
Unlike EVs with a lower rental feel, the car’s materially rich interior distinguishes it as clearly as the sleek body. The practicality is on the same level as the Renault Zoe and better than in an electric Mini. The refinement also beats these two important rivals and the performance is quite strong. Certainly, you get an adequate dose of that ‘zip’ enabled with an electric motor.
The car also runs with the flexibility lacking in some smaller EVs, which often struggle to contain their body mass on the road. The steering is impressive for its frankness, although the bodywork control will deteriorate a bit if you drive more enthusiastically. Still, it is the rounding of the e-208’s driving experience that really impresses.
2. Mini Electric
The Mini Electric brings all the fun factor you expect from the brand to the compact EV segment – albeit packed with some equally typical usability restrictions.
Based exclusively on the three-door Mini body, the Mini Electric adopts the powertrain of the BMW i3S, giving it a torque of 181bhp and 199 pounds very healthy feet. Performance is noticeably stronger than many of the cars you can compare it to on this list, while handling is adherent, strong and agile in the Mini dynamic’s long-lasting dynamic traditions. We like a lot.
Reach is the problem. The Mini claims 144 miles, but in reality, depending on how and where you drive, you are more likely to travel between 100 and 120 miles. And that is in a car with a very small trunk, whose rear seats are difficult to access and of little use to anyone, except for younger children in any case. As a more affordable flavor of the driver’s EV, however, it is one of the best out there.
3. Vauxhall Corsa-e
The Vauxhall brother of the Peugeot e-208 does not have exactly the declared WLTP style or reach of its French relationship, it does not have the interior configured in a creative way and it does not have such a good price. But don’t be fooled into believing that this Vauxhall is not worth a test drive. It may be a little simpler than the Peugeot, but it is still beautiful enough. The car’s driving experience combines genuine 180-mile daily autonomy with sharp and competent handling and a comfortable ride, while 100kW DC fast-loading compatibility as standard should also be a selling point.
Vauxhall’s large dealer network in the UK is likely to make this car one of the UK’s best-selling EVs, ready to convert people who have not considered electric motorsport so far. It is certainly good enough to leave the right kind of impression.
4. BMW i3S
If the i3 cannot claim to have brought the EV ownership concept to the mass market (step forward, the Nissan Leaf, launched in 2010), then it can at least claim to have shown that such cars could be interesting and genuinely characteristic.
Since 2013, BMW’s urban car has gained in range, power and interior technology, even though along the way the plug-in range extender that offered owners a safety net has been discarded, so now the model is pure. electric only. The official range is 188 miles, although it is admitted to be adequate, rather than excellent in 2021, and the 50 kW charging potential is no more than you expected, given the i3’s high asking price.
What we love about the i3 is, leaving out the spongy body control, its sense of refinement, easy handling, well thought out controls and indoor environment. With that carbon fiber-reinforced plastic architecture and outstanding design, it also somehow manages to look avant-garde and exciting.
5. Honda E
Honda took a left-field approach with its first all-electric car, the Honda E supermini – which is unusually compact for an electric car and innovative in many ways.
A rear-mounted engine promises packaging efficiency (although the car itself fails to keep up with it), while the fully independent suspension announces the ride and handling sophistication of a larger car (which the car does much better to really provide ).
OE is available in 134bhp and 152bhp forms, but neither has the same battery capacity as rivals: 35.5 kWh ‘raw’ is all you get here, which contributes to a declared 137-mile WLTP range in the maximum (with the car running on 16-inch wheels) In testing, we struggled to get much more than 100% of our 17-inch test car.
To drive, the E looks luxurious, composed and easy to operate, with medium pace steering, but a tight turning circle and moderate but responsive performance. It does not excite and does not offer the ultimate in body control, but it would make for a relaxing urban car and its alternative style is exceptionally captivating.
6. Mazda MX-30
Mazda has never been afraid to do things its own way, even when the rest of the industry seems to be doing something different.
The MX-30, therefore, is not exactly what you expected, but it is an attractive proposition just the same. The appearance of a toy car involves an unusually small battery – just 35.5 kWh, giving an official range of 124 miles – because Mazda believes that owners simply won’t need anything else, and increasing the size of the battery would mean a cost unnecessary. It is reasonably spacious inside, has an SUV-lite body that is very fashionable and is furnished with interesting materials that give the cabin a singularly cozy and pleasant atmosphere.
Dynamically, the MX-30 also stands out – although only when you’re traveling with a little bit of pace on an interesting road. At 143bhp and 199lb ft, it will never explode in a straight line, but the steering weight and the flexible way the suspension transfers weight during curves are genuinely reminiscent of the MX-5 sports car. Around the city, however, it may seem a little simple.
You can charge up to 50 kW, and if limited range works for you, there’s a lot to like about the unusual Mazda MX-30. It can be an effective second car.
7. Renault Zoe
The Renault Zoe has always been an attractive electric short-jump supermini, even when it was offered with a 22 kWh battery and had only 80 miles of range in the real world. The car’s usability has been enhanced over its lifetime, however, by a 41 kWh battery option that, on a hot day, turns the car into a good for 150 miles of mixed use in the real world.
There is now a fully updated version with a significantly updated design, plus a 52 kWh battery and up to 245 miles of range in the WLTP cycle; or about 190 miles in mixed use in the real world. It still offers a strong value for money compared to its competitors and is also pleasant to drive: very fast and very quiet, although with some sense of lead in the controls.
While previously Zoe could not be charged quickly for motorway services as quickly as some rivals, CCS fast charging is now an option. He may have lagged behind his more recent EV rivals in some ways, but Zoe remains an excellent entry point for EV ownership.
8. Volkswagen e-Up
We could have simply put Skoda’s Citigo-e iV or Seat’s electric Mii in this slot, because they are mechanically almost the same car. But we preferred Volkswagen for its slightly more playful demeanor and the fact that, well, it came first.
Volkswagen’s smallest electric car predates the new ID range and was updated in 2020 with an extended battery that now gives 159 WLTP miles. There was also a cut in the asking price, which is now just over £ 21,000 (including the £ 2,500 government grant) and makes e-Up look good compared to the recent £ 30,000 wave -plus small EVs. The latest model also benefits from a camera-based lane control system, and the airy and light interior remains.
As is often the case with small electric vehicles, this Volkswagen is best suited for second car tasks and for doing shorter errands. It carries four with relative ease and 155 pound feet of torque makes it reasonably fast. As always with Volkswagen, the controls are also intuitive and easy to use. At that price, it buries the Smart EQ Fortwo, as well as the Skoda.
9. DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
This compact crossover is something that the future owner of the Mazda MX-30 can also consider, not least because the nearly 320 kilometers of reach comfortably surpass that of the Japanese car.
All the common features of the DS are here: the distinctive exterior, the somewhat exaggerated but superficially “luxurious” interior and a decent dose of performance.
Our reservations are that the cabin space is not particularly good, the driving experience is common and the price is quite steep. However, if you want a slightly less common EV and are prepared to pay for it, E-Tense is unlikely to disappoint you.
10. Renault Twizy
Renault’s slogan for Twizy is “plug-in positive energy” and, to be fair, it’s hard to resist smiling when you get behind the wheel. Unless, of course, it’s raining and you haven’t bought the optional windows …
Technically, the Twizy is an ATV, not a car, so it belongs to the same category as the recently launched Citroën Ami (but not yet bound for the UK). It is a two-seater car, with the passenger seated behind the driver, and designed for very short, and probably urban, travels. That’s why, even when the sun is shining, you’ll still only have about 50 miles on the 6.1 kWh battery. It is certainly not a family electric car.
To drive, Twizy is fun and agile, albeit a little numb. Your secret weapon is the fact that it fires from behind and can, if you’re committed enough, slide smoothly. Prices start at just under £ 12,000.