Top 10 Best Small Electric Cars (2021)
Small electric cars are increasingly popular and there are lots to choose from so we've picked ten of the best to get you started.
They tend to be quite expensive to buy, cheap to recharge, slightly on the heavy side due to the batteries, handle well due to the low centre of gravity, cost pence rather than pounds per mile and have no grill at the front because there's no engine to cool. Remember that driving range can be around 30% less in the colder months.
You might also like our top ten petrol / diesel small cars.
The Best Small Electric Cars:
Tesla Model 3
Price: £39,500 to £55,500
Summary: The Model 3 is Tesla's smallest car and although it costs many pennies there is a lot to like about it. It's incredibly high tech, will do 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds in Performance guise and it has an interior that's both sleek and minimalist.
At the moment it can auto park and lane change but Tesla have designed the software to be upgraded in the future with even more self-driving functionality like automatically finding you in a car park when you summon it.
- Huge 15" infotainment system
- Retractable door handles
- Panoramic sunroof with UV protection (top two trims)
- 360° cameras
- Fancy airflow system
- Dual rear USB sockets
- Dual phone charging dock under the infotainment
- Integrated dashcam
- Rear boot compartmentalism
- Novel front boot
- Woopie cushion seat setting
Sweet Spot: The Standard Long Range AWD gives you everything you really need without the huge expense of the top model.
- Standard - Single motor, rear wheel drive, 18" aero or 19" wheels
- Standard Long Range AWD - Dual motors, all wheel drive, panoramic roof, premium interior, 18" aero or 19" wheels
- Performance - 20" wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, upgraded brakes, sports suspension, Carbon Fibre spoiler, 5 heated seats, Aluminium pedals
- Standard - Roughly 180 miles, 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds
- Standard Long Range AWD - Roughly 300 miles, 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds
- Performance - Roughly 240 miles, 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds
Price: £26,900 to £36,400
Summary: The Nissan Leaf is one of the few second generation electric cars available today, so it's nice to know all the knowledge gained from the 2011 model was used as a base to design this one. The range extending e+ is only available in the Tekna trim and both have a normal brake pedal as well if needed.
- The range
- Single e-pedal interface for both acceleration and braking
- 8" infotainment with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto mobile mirroring
- Speed limit recognition
- Hill hold assist
- 360 cameras
- Front charging port
Sweet Spot: The 40 kWh standard model in the Tekna trim offers plenty of range and all the clever driving aids.
- Acenta - 16" wheels, sat nav, rear view camera, keyless entry / start, LED running lights, air con, auto wipers, basic cruise control, 7" dash, 8" infotainment, front and rear USB ports, pedestrian aware auto braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
- N-Connecta - 17" wheels, rear privacy windows, 360 cameras, parking sensors, nearby moving object alerts, heated seats, heated steering wheel, faux leather trim, electronic folding mirrors, radar cruise control
- Tekna - ProPILOT advanced driver aids (auto acceleration + braking / lane keeping / auto parking), electronic parking brake, part leather trim, auto LED headlights, Bose 7 speaker audio system
- 148 bhp / 110 kW motor with roughly a 140 mile range (214 bhp / 160 kW, 210 mile for the e+)
- 0-62 mph in 7.9 seconds (6.9 seconds for the e+)
- 40 kWh battery (62 kWh for the e+)
- 20% to 80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 60 minutes (90 minutes for the e+)
- 100% charge from a 7 kW home wall box in 7.5 hours (11.5 hours for the e+)
- 100% charge from a regular socket in roughly 13 hours (20 hours for the e+)
Price: £26,600 - £29,160
Summary: The Honda e is a premium electric supermini that's packed full of advanced technology, from the bank of screens making up the dashboard and mirrors to the front charging port with LED charge status.
- Incredible dash and infotainment layout
- 230V UK socket to power your laptop
- HDMI input for a second monitor
- Fancy camera mirrors
- Pop out door handles
- Small turning circle
- Single pedal mode
- Rear wheel drive
- Voice assistant
- The looks
Sweet Spot: The entry level e gives you everything you could need but misses out on auto parking.
- e - 16" wheels, electronic parking brake, climate control, heated front seats, ambient lighting, rear camera, parking sensors, 8.8" dashboard, dual 12.3" touch screens, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, sat nav, 4 USB sockets, rear privacy glass, auto headlights, adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, keyless entry / start
- e Advance - 13% more powerful motor, 16" or 17" wheels, front screen de-icer, automatic parking, heated steering wheel, 8 speaker premium audio, camera based mirror, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic monitor
- 134 bhp / 100 kW motor with a 130 mile range (152 bhp / 113 kW for the Advance)
- 0-62 in 9 seconds (8.3 seconds for the Advance)
- 35.5 kWh battery
- 0-80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 30 minutes
- 0-100% from a 7.2 kW home wall box in 4 hours
- 0-100% from a UK socket in 19 hours
Summary: The Peugeot 208 been around since it took over from the 207 in 2012 and the latest 2019 model looks damn good with an interior as funky as the Mini.
The e-208 is the range topper, sitting above the old diesel / petrol models, with all of the tech. Notably you get the 10" infotainment, sat nav, keyless entry / start, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, heated leather seats, lane positioning assist, nighttime active braking, front parking sensors, rear camera, electric folding mirrors, wireless mobile charging, SOS system, 8 colour ambient lighting and 4 USB sockets.
- The looks
- LED "fang" running lights and the additional headlight stripes
- 3D effect dash
- SOS system
- Infotainment with 10" upgrade
- Wireless charging function
- 100 kWh rapid charging
- Drive assist tech.
- 136 bhp / 100 kW with 215 mile range
- 0-62 mph on 8.1 seconds
- 50 kWh battery
- 80% charge in 30 minutes from a 50 kW fast charge station
- 7.5 hour full charge from a 7.2 kW wall box
- 24 hour full charge from regular socket
Price: £25,000 - £31,000
Summary: The new BMW mini appeared in 2001 and instantly bought the iconic shape back to the mainstream. Today you can drive it as a 182 bhp / 135 kW electric model capable of matching the petrol Cooper S on speed but it's limited to 120 miles range.
- The classic looks
- 6.5" to 8.8" infotainment upgrade
- LED lights
- Driving assistant tech
- Intelligent SOS system
- Level 1 - Two colour choices, sat nav, cruise control, air con
- Level 2 - Five colours choices, traffic sign recognition, pedestrian aware active braking, auto high beam, rear camera, heated seats, more premium interior
- Level 3 - Six colour choices, 8.8" infotainment, front parking sensors, panoramic sunroof, heads up display, Harman / Kardon speakers, leather interior, wireless mobile charging pad
- 181 bhp / 135 kW motor with a 124-144 mile range
- 0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds
- 32 kWh battery
- 0-80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 36 minutes
- 0-80% from a 7.2 kW home wall box in just over 3 hours
- 100% slow charge from a UK socket in 12 hours
Price: £35,350 to £37,840
Summary: The BMW i3 is a designed from scratch electric car with rear wheel drive which arrived on the scene back in 2014. It's at the premium end of the spectrum but if you like the looks, the designer interior options and don't need five seats it might be worth a look.
- The cool centre opening doors
- The way BMW incorporate used plastic bottles into the build
- How they have replaced some common Petroleum based fabrics with plant based alternatives
- Lightweight Aluminium / Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic build
- 10" infotainment
- Eucalyptus wood that finishes the funky interior
- The way BMW call the various interior colour options "Interior Worlds"
- i3 - 19" wheels, LED headlights, dynamic brake lights, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, keyless entry
- i3s - 20" wheels, 10 mm lower sports suspension, upgraded motor with 14 bhp more, sport driving mode
- 167.6 bhp / 125 kW motor with a 160 mile range
- 0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds (6.9 on the i3s)
- 38 kWh battery
- 0-80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 42 minutes
- 0-80% from a 7.2 kW home wall box in 5 hours
- 80% slow charge from a UK socket in 15 hours
Price: £26,000 - £29,000
Summary: The Renault Zoe is a custom designed electric supermini which originally launched in 2013 and is one of the best selling small electric cars you can buy today.
The Play trim gets the R110 motor in slow charge guise, Iconic has the choice of R110 / R135 motors in fast or slow charge guise and the GT Line gets the R135 in either fast or slow charge guise. The fast charge version lets you use the 50 kW quick charging stations, with slow charge up to 22 kW.
- Front charging port
- Single pedal B mode
- LED lighting
- Ability to set the climate control from the app
- Funky interior
- Free wall box charger.
Sweet Spot: The GT Line with fast charging looks like the best option.
- Play R110 - 15" wheels, air con, 10" dashboard, 7" infotainment, sat nav, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, keyless entry / start, cruise control, auto wipers, heated mirrors
- Iconic R110 / R135 - 16" wheels, recycled fabric seats, climate control, wireless mobile charger, body coloured mirrors, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, auto headlights, traffic sign recognition, 6 speaker audio, rear USB sockets
- GT Line R135 - 9.3" infotainment, part faux leather seats, front parking sensors, rear camera, electric rear windows, electronic folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, blind spot monitoring
- 107 bhp / 80 kW motor with a 230 mile range (220 mile with the 134 bhp / 100 kW motor)
- 0-60 mph in 11.4 seconds (9.5 seconds for the R135)
- 52 kWh battery
- 0-80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 1 hour
- 0-80% from a 7 kW home wall box in 7 hours
- 0-80% from a UK socket in 29 hours
Price: From £29,000
Summary: The Fiat 500 has been around in petrol form since 2007 and nails retro cool as well as the new Mini. It's a super compact city car and now the third generation is available in 100% electric form.
Sherpa mode extends the range by limiting the top speed to 50 mph and turning off the air con / heated seats / mobile charging pad.
- Cool retro styling
- Funky interior
- 10.3" infotainment system
- Clever inline door handles
- Free 3 kW wall box charger (can be upgraded to the more useful 7.4 kW level)
Sweet Spot: The la Prima looks like the best bet, unless you really like attention, then one of the special editions is worth a look.
- la Prima - Adaptive cruise control, pedestrian / cyclist aware auto braking, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, 360 camera, single pedal mode, LED lights, heated seats, driver tiredness alert, SOS system, 7" dashboard, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay mobile mirroring
- Armani - Special wheels, interior and stylish exterior
- Bvlgari - Loud orange paint and vibrant interior
- Kartell - Blue paint, textured wheels
- 117 bhp / 87 kW motor with 190 miles range
- 0-60 mph in 9 seconds
- 42 kWh battery
- 0-80% from an 85 kW quick charger in 35 minutes (31 miles in 5 minutes)
- 100% from a 7.4 kW home wall box in 6 hours
Summary: The iconic Golf has been evolving since 1974 over eight generations and that's a good thing because the e-Golf is simply the latest gen Golf that has been converted to electric power, plus a few aerodynamic tweaks to extend the range. It will be replaced by the designed from scratch ID.3 later in 2020 but for now it's the best option from Volkswagen.
We Like: The fact it's based on the refined practicality of the engine powered Golf and the large TFT dash.
- 134 bhp / 99 kW motor with 120 mile range
- 0-62 mph in 9.6 seconds
- 36 kWh battery
- 0-80% from an 50 kW quick charger in 45 minutes
- 0-100% from a 7.4 kW home wall box in 4 hours
- 0-100% from a UK socket in 13 hours
Summary: The SEAT Mii is an electric supermini with 16" wheels, heated front seats, cruise control and a price noticeably lower than most other electric cars however it keeps the price low by sacrificing some of the shiny stuff like a TFT dash and infotainment system. SEAT are part of the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) with the Mii bearing a close resemblance to the Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo.
- Low price
- Dinky dimensions
- Lane keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Auto wipers
- Rear parking sensor
- Climate control that can be set from your mobile
- 82 bhp / 61 kW motor with a 160-220 mile range
- 0-31 mph in 3.9 seconds
- 32 kWh battery
- 0-80% from a 50 kW quick charger in 1 hour
- 0-80% from a 7.2 kW home wall box in 4 hours
- 0-80% from a UK socket in 16 hours
How Did We Rank Our Top Ten?
We looked at all the small electric cars you can buy new and picked the top contenders, taking into account style, power, technology and value for money.