Renault Zoe

The best small electric cars

Here’s our pick of the 8 best small electric cars available to buy new or used.

Cazoo Editorial Team Byline Icon

By Cazoo editorial team

Published: 24 May 2022

Small cars are ideal for driving around town. They tend to feel light and nippy, which makes it easy to get through traffic or dart down side streets, and slotting into a tight parking space is a doddle.

Everything that’s good about small cars also applies to their electric versions, with the bonus that they produce no exhaust emissions, so you’re helping to keep the air cleaner in the city or town where you live. Electric cars can also cost a lot less to run than a petrol or diesel model depending on where you charge the battery, and rapid advances in battery technology mean that many have enough range to make longer journeys possible on a full charge.

There’s an ever-increasing number of small electric cars available to buy new or used, with variety to suit all needs and tastes. Here’s our pick of the best, four of which are available new and four that can be bought used.

Our top four new small electric cars

1. Honda E

Get a Honda E and you may never have to do a three-point turn again. That’s because it can turn around in a space that’s just 4.3 metres across, which isn’t much more than the car’s own length. Being able to make such tight turns means parking is really easy, especially with the aid of rear-view cameras fitted to some models in place of door mirrors.

There’s more tech inside the car, with a bank of screens across the dashboard that control many of the car’s features, show detailed information about how efficiently you’re driving and play whatever entertainment you’ve chosen for the journey. They can look a bit intimidating at first, but they’re actually very easy to use. The car’s also more practical than you might expect from its size, with room for a family of four to scoot around town. With an official range of 137 miles on a full battery, though, it might not be the best option if you do lots of longer journeys.

2. Mini Electric

If you want a small electric car that feels fun to drive, the Mini Electric could be ideal. It’s basically the same car as the petrol-powered Mini Hatch, but has an electric motor instead of an engine and a battery under the floor. The steering is just as responsive as it is in a petrol Mini, so nipping down tight side streets is really easy, and the electric motor gives quicker acceleration. Put it all together and the Mini is the most enjoyable car to drive on this list.

The Mini Electric also looks pretty much exactly the same as a petrol Mini, so you get the same retro style that’s a big part of the car’s appeal. And there are dozens of options to choose from that allow you to personalise the car to your tastes. Downsides? It’s only available with a three-door body so it’s not especially practical and its official maximum range of 145 miles means that longer journeys may need a bit of planning to find charging stations.

3. Hyundai Kona Electric

There are quite a few small electric SUVs to choose from, but the Hyundai Kona Electric is our pick of the bunch because it can go much further on a fully charged battery than most of its rivals. Pick a model with the bigger 64kWh battery and you’ll have an official maximum range of up to 300 miles, which could reduce the stress of driving long distances. Even if you mostly just cruise around town, such a long range means you won’t have to plug in very often to recharge the battery.

Because it’s an SUV you sit a bit higher in the Kona Electric than you would in a hatchback so there’s a good view out. It’s compact and easy to park and there’s enough space in the back seats for a couple of adults, while the boot is big enough for a week’s worth of food shopping. You also get lots of features as standard including sat nav, cruise control and a rear-view camera. 

Read our full Hyundai Kona review

4. Fiat 500 Electric

Is there an electric car more stylish than the Fiat 500 Electric? It looks just as good inside as it does out and you can really jazz it up with some bold colour schemes. As well as the hatchback, there’s a convertible version with a fabric roof that slides back behind the back seats, so you can get in touch with nature while you drive. And because there’s no engine in the 500 Electric, you can more clearly hear the birds singing as you go.

Get a model that has the bigger 42kWh battery and you can go quite a long way out of town and into the countryside with an official range of up to 205 miles. Neither the hatchback or convertible versions have much back-seat or boot space, but it’s ideal for single people or couples.

Our top four used small electric cars

1. Renault Zoe

Buy a Renault Zoe and you’ll be getting one of the best-value used electric cars. It can cost less than other electric cars of similar size yet has enough passenger and boot space to use as a family car. You sit quite high up, too, so adults and kids both get a good view out.

The Zoe has been sold for more than 10 years and there is a wide range of models to choose from. The earlier versions had a battery range of only about 80 miles, but the more recent models can go much further when fully charged – up to around 240 miles. That’s more than any of the other used cars we’ve listed here and makes the Zoe a good option if you need to travel longer distances.  

Read our full Renault Zoe review

2. Peugeot e-208

There aren’t many small cars with a truly premium feel, but the Peugeot e-208 is one of them. It looks great inside and out, gives you a really comfortable ride, packs the interior with useful features and everything you touch feels like it was taken from a much more costly car. There’s also enough space for four adults and the boot is a useful size.

On the road, the e-208 feels very much like petrol 208 models – light, responsive and agile. Because there’s no engine it’s quieter, so the e-208 is even better than the already-good 208 for travelling long distances. Thanks to an official range of up to 217 miles, long journeys are a realistic prospect in the e-208.

If you like the e-208, you may also want to consider the Vauxhall Corsa-e. The two are very similar, sharing many electrical and mechanical components, but the Vauxhall is a bit more affordable, if not quite as stylish. It also can’t match the Peugeot’s premium feel.

Read our full Peugeot 208 review

3. Volkswagen e-Up

The petrol-powered Volkswagen Up is one of the best city cars you can get. It feels nippy around town yet safe and solid enough to be comfortable on long journeys. There’s also a surprising amount of space inside its cube-like body and it’s very good value. All of that’s true of the electric version, which Volkswagen calls the e-Up.

There are two versions of the e-Up. The first was sold new from 2014, while an improved version has been sold new since 2020. The update is significant because the e-Up gained a lot more range. The first version could only go up to 99 miles on a fully charged battery, but updated cars can manage as much as 159 miles. That extra 60 miles means you can more easily take advantage of the Up’s ability to give you a relaxing driving experience on a longer journey.

If you like the e-Up, you may also want to check out the Skoda Citigo-e and Seat Mii Electric. They’re all basically the same car with different styling details but the Skoda and Seat can be more affordable to buy. However, the Volkswagen is more stylish and there are more of them, so it’s easier to find one to buy.

4. BMW i3

The futuristic styling of the BMW i3 really stands out from the crowd, but there’s more to the car than that. The interior looks just as good and it’s a relaxing place to spend time, with comfortable seats and lots of light coming in through big windows. There’s also a decent amount of space – enough for a family to jump in for the school run. Unusually, the back doors open towards the back of the car which can make it easier to lift small children in and out.

The i3 accelerates quickly and has a fun, sporty feel. It has been updated several times since its introduction, with improved battery tech that gives a longer range. Models with the 42.2kWh battery, sold new from 2017, can go furthest, with a range of up to 191 miles. There’s also a ‘range extender’ model (called REx) that has a small petrol engine that acts as a generator to charge the batteries while driving, increasing your range.

Read our full BMW i3 review

There are lots of high-quality electric cars for sale at Cazoo. Simply use the search function to find one you love then buy or finance it online. You can choose to have it delivered to your door, or you can collect it from your nearest Cazoo Customer Centre.

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