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Best small electric cars 2022

Phil Hall

Written by

Phil Hall

Best small electric cars

If you’re in the market for the best small electric car, then take a look at our expert guide. 

Not only are they some of the cheapest electric cars available, these compact city cars are a perfect blend of comfort, practicality and value for money. They're ideal for nipping round towns and cities, with their petite dimensions making them a breeze to park and they cost very little to run. Electric cars are exempt from London's daily ULEZ charge.   

So, it you mostly cover miles around town and don't need too much space, these are the best small electric cars to drive in the city. 

Skoda Citigo-e iV

Year launched: 2020

Skoda Citigo-e iV Review 2022: exterior dynamic

The Citigo-e iV is perfect for city dwellers who want an easy to own, comfortable car at an affordable price. Low noise levels, brisk urban performance and cheap running costs are a big selling point for Skoda’s little EV, once you get past the initial purchase price. When Skoda's parent company Volkswagen made a big switch to EVs, it took all its brands with it - so the Volkswagen e-Up, Skoda Citigo-e iV and SEAT Mii Electric are all very similar.

The Citigo-e iV is available in two specs; the basic SE and pricier SE L. The latter comes with a Combined Charging System as standard - only an option on the SE - which means you can use public fast-charging points and get an 80% charge in an hour. It’s £700 to upgrade the SE to the CCS system, but we would say it is an essential piece of kit.

The Citigo-e iV has an official range of 161 miles, which isn’t the best in class but is still impressive. On the plus side, there’s lots of torque for quick acceleration from low speeds, and you can adjust the amount of regenerative braking so you can use the brake pedal less.

BMW i3

Year launched: 2013

BMW i3 Review 2022 Driving Side

The BMW i3 might have made its debut back in 2013, but it's still one of the freshest and most futuristic looking small electric cars you can buy today. 

The latest models come with a battery capacity of 120Ah that puts the official range of between 182-190 miles for the standard i3, though older cars came with smaller batteries that had a range of between 80-100 miles. Something to consider if you're looking to buy a used model. 

To help keep weight down with the i3, BMW has used a number of composite materials, making it fun to drive and very agile round town. Inside, there's no sign that BMW's cut corners with the quality of the materials, with the i3 enjoying a very modern and fresh cabin. It'll also happily accommodate four adults, while access to the rear is via the rear-hinged doors. Don't expect a massive boot, but at 260 litres it's pretty good, while there's also the option to drop the rear seats down if you need more space. 

The i3 is certainly a pricey option for a small electric car, but it feels very grown up and stands out from the crowd. 

Volkswagen e-Up

Year launched: 2014

Volkswagen e-Up Review 2022 Front Side View

The newest VW e-Up, with its significantly extended range, will fit into the lives of anyone who spends a lot of time in the city or does many short journeys, and who can charge at home. If you live in a block of flats, that probably rules you out. 

The e-Up comes in a single standard specification, which means less decision making. It’s well-equipped as standard, too, with - climate control, heated seats and windscreen, cruise control, a rear-view camera, alloy wheels and smartphone integration. The cabin is lowkey but attractive and the e-Up actually drives better than the petrol model as well.

The newest e-Up generation gets a 32.3kWh battery, powering the 82PS electric motor - which gives an official range of 161 miles.

MINI Electric

Year launched: 2020

MINI Electric Review 2022 front-left exterior

If you're looking for something fun to drive round the city, then the MINI Electric should be at the top of your list. The 184PS electric motor will propel you to 62mph in just over 7 seconds, while the all-at-once power delivery makes it feel even quicker than that. That's just half the story though as it's not just the speed that makes the MINI Electric fun to drive, but the handling too. It's not quite as refined as its combustion-engined sibling the MINI Hatch, but it'll still put a big smile on your face thanks to the tight body control and quick steering. 

Inside and the MINI Electric doesn't disappoint. The attractive design and clever ergonomics are complemented by some very nice materials and finishes. The slight downside is the issue of space. The MINI Hatch isn't one of the most practical small cars, and neither is the MINI Electric. Its batteries are stored under the rear seats, meaning rear passenger space is even more compromised, while the boot is just tiny. 

The MINI Electric's range is between 140-145 miles, so it's a little down on rivals, but should be more than up to the job for trips into town and short commutes to work. 

Honda e

Year launched: 2020

Honda e Review 2022: exterior front

The Honda e is the iPhone of cars. It’s small, expensive and will need recharging regularly. Yet, EV owners will buy it regardless of its shortfalls simply because of its desirability - in large part because of its looks. It’s a superb balance of modern and retro design meaning young buyers will gravitate towards this rather than, say, a Renault Zoe - despite its high price and shorter electric range.

Speaking of which, it has an official range of 137 miles, dropping to 125 miles if you spec the prettier 17-inch alloy wheels. That’s better than the Smart EQ Forfour, but not as good as competitors like the Skoda Citigo-e iV and MINI Electric - both of which are cheaper, too. But it’s got them all beat on tech. There are five screens spread across the dash, including two infotainment displays and digital screens instead of conventional mirrors. 

Inside the cabin is superb, using a mixture of wood and contemporary materials to provide a lounge-like feel. Despite its compact dimensions, a flat floor means it feels surprisingly spacious up front, although room for rear-seat passengers is limited. It's got quite a small boot, too.

Fiat 500 Electric

Year launched: 2021

Fiat 500 Electric Review 2022: front dynamic

Fiat struck gold with the original Fiat 500 when it first arrived back in 2008, with its cheeky retro design a hit with those looking for a classy city car. Fast forward to 2021 and the latest Fiat 500 is an electric-only model. 

The Fiat 500 Electric is a touch larger than the original car, but it's still one of the smallest cars on the road at only 3.6m long, while it comes with the choice of two batteries. The entry-level model is equipped with a modest 24kWh battery that delivers a claimed range up to 118 miles, while there's also a 42kWh battery pack that stretches the Fiat 500's range up to 199 miles. It can also be fast charged to 80% of full battery power in 30 minutes (you'll need to be using a fast charging public station to achieve this though). 

Fiat's refined up the design of the 500 for 2021 while it's also available as a soft-top cabriolet - one of the few electric cars that allows you to have the roof down. There are three trim levels to pick from - Action, Passion and Icon. The entry-level model emits a touchscreen, instead requiring you to connect your smartphone, while the top of the range model sports a large 10-inch touchscreen. 

Renault Zoe

Year launched: 2013

Renault Zoe Review 2022 Side Front View

Like the BMW i3, the Renault Zoe is one of the older cars on the list, having hit the road back in 2013. The first electric car from the giant French brand, the Zoe is a great electric city car. 

Thanks to its small footprint, it's very easy to drive and squeeze into the tight parking spots, with the clever design means there's a decent amount of space inside and a slightly raised driving position compared to many small cars. While the design appears to suggest its a three-door, it is in fact a five-door hatchback, with the rear doorhandles neatly disguised in the frame of the door. 

Over the years Renault has improved the battery performance on the Zoe. Originally coming with a 22kWh battery that delivered an official range between 130 and 150 miles, while the latest models feature a 52kWh capacity battery with a claimed range up to 245 miles. 

SEAT Mii electric

Year launched: 2020

SEAT Mii Electric Review 2022 Front Side View

The SEAT Mii Electric is blissfully easy to drive and refined, with performance that makes it ideal for zipping around a city. Like the Skoda Citigo-e iV, low running costs are a big plus, once you get past the initial cost. The official range is 161 miles, which is lower than the larger, more expensive Renault Zoe. Therefore, if you aren’t looking to cover long distances in you EV, the Mii Electric would be a great consideration.

SEAT has tried to keep the list price of the Mii Electric as low as possible by cutting out the trims and options, so there’s just a single model in the range. Aside from the colour scheme, there are just three options: the mode 2 charging cable, the Easy Flex pack - which adds the double boot floor, a glovebox hook and a height-adjustable passenger seat for £70 - and a contrast roof.

Inside, it looks smart with all the major controls grouped closely together in the centre, but the Mii does without a central touchscreen like you get in the Renault Zoe.  As standard, you get DAB radio and a smartphone cradle which connects up to give you Bluetooth for phone and audio streaming as well as a host of other features through the Drive Mii app. 

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Year launched: 2020

Vauxhall Corsa-e Review 2022 Front Side View

The Corsa-e sits alongside petrol and diesel Corsa models, so rather than looking strikingly different for an electric car, you'll be hard pressed to notice any difference between this electric version and its internal combustion stablemates other than the absence of exhaust tailpipe. This is a car then for those looking make their first steps into the world of EV motoring without broadcasting it.

The Corsa-e delivers a claimed range of up to 209 miles, while you'll be able to brim it up to 80% of a full charge in 45 minutes provided you're using a 50kW public charger. Thanks to the battery packs on the Corsa-e, it's some 345kg heavier than a petrol-powered Corsa. To minimise the impact of this on the handling of the Corsa-e, Vauxhall's retuned the suspension and it actually rides better than a 'standard' model, while it'll only take 7.6 seconds to hit 62mph.  

Inside and the Corsa-e plays it a little safe - there's not quite the same attention to detail and design flare as we're used to seeing on some rivals, but there's a good level of comfort and luxury equipment on offer. The Corsa-e is a safe bet for an electric car, but there are more exciting options out there. 

Smart EQ Forfour

Year launched: 2018

Smart EQ Forfour Review 2022: Front Side View

Before we get into the EQ Forfour properly, it’s worth prefacing with the fact that the electric range is so limited that long journeys are out of the question - unless you like to stop every 50 miles for a coffee - so it is really a car that only works in the city. As for things it does well, it has the nippy low speed acceleration and manoeuvrability that are trademarks of electric city cars.

Smart is best-known for its tiny Smart Fortwo, the smallest city car. The Forfour is a slightly bigger car spun off the same platform, with four doors and the same unusual rear-engine. This design allows for max amounts of space. Inside, the entry-level Passion Advanced has most of the standard equipment you might want, including the Smart Media System, LED daytime running lights and the Comfort package that includes the height adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat.

The Smart EQ Forfour has an official range of 81 miles, which isn’t a whole lot. However, for a car that’s less than 3.5 metres in length, it can seat four adults in reasonable comfort, even if the rear seats are best suited to children. Though, this means the boot only offers 185 litres with the rear seats in place, less than the identical Renault Twingo and less even than the Smart Fortwo.

The SEAT Mii Electric goes for the lowest price as new, but it’s also in high demand - so used deals on other models - like the Skoda Citigo-e iV - might be more cost effective.

The Vauxhall Corsa-e has the best range at just over 200 miles in a single charge, though there are many small electric cars that have an official range of over 150 miles, including the likes of the SEAT Mii Electric, Skoda Citigo-e iV and Volkswagen e-Up.

Overall, the Skoda Citigo-e iV offers the best package as an affordable, reasonably practical electric city car - although, the SEAT Mii Electric matches it very closely. The Volkswagen e-Up is an excellent premium option, while the Honda e will be a surefire favourite amongst young buyers due to its old-meets-new design and high-tech cabin.