Small, nimble and packed with performance, the choice of small electric cars continues to increase. Even the smallest battery packs offer a range in excess of 100 miles, and many more that are now capable of more than 200 miles from a single charge. Small electric cars are ideal urban runabouts.
If you’re driving in city areas, purely electric power is a great choice. There are no tailpipe emissions, you won’t fall foul of charges for ultra-low emissions zone areas, and you get the immediate ‘zip’ of an electric vehicle’s (EV) instant torque. Plus, because all of these EVs are small, they’re really easy to park, they can duck in and out of urban traffic, and they have great visibility out too. Electric compact cars are so good, several made our list of the overall best small cars 2023, but with this list focusing entirely on EVs, here are our favourite small electric cars.
Best Electric City Cars 2023
- Citroen Ami
- Fiat 500 Electric
- Honda e
- Vauxhall Corsa e
- MINI Electric
- Nissan Leaf
- GWM Ora Funky Cat
- Volkwagen ID.3
- Mazda MX-30
We start our rundown with a car that isn’t even a car, really. The minuscule yet deeply charming Citroen Ami is technically a quadricycle, but let’s not get bogged down in that stuff – instead, let’s focus on this car’s strengths.
Sure, owning an Ami is going to require compromises. It’s a strict two-seater, while it has a maximum speed of just 28mph and an all-out range of 47 miles. But that’s the secret of its brilliance – this is purely conceived as an urban transportation solution, to be used only on city streets, where both its range and its speed are more than adequate.
Better yet, you’ll be able to park ridiculously easily and this is the most affordable new ‘car’ on the market in the UK today. So if you can accept its primary purpose and judge it solely on that criteria, you’re sure to make a friend for life with the Citroen Ami.
View the latest Citroen Ami lease deals.
Fiat 500 Electric
A familiar-looking car, Fiat has retained the characteristics of the modern yet retro 500, with an impressive 42kWh battery and 199-mile range. That’s really impressive for a small car. There is a cheaper version available with a 24kWh battery capable of 118 miles on a single charge, if you want a lower priced version and you know you’ll be fine with that sort of range.
The steering is light and there’s plenty of grip, making it a distinctive, enjoyable ride. The cabin is decorated with a new 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen as well as slightly more space than its predecessor, giving it a more luxurious feel.
View our latest offers on Fiat 500 leasing, or see how the all-electric version stacks up vs the regular Fiat 500.
If Apple made cars – and one day they well might – then we reckon an Apple car would look and feel a lot like the amazing little Honda e. Electric cars are often still thought of as machines of the future and in the supermini class, it’s the Honda e that comes closest to matching that claim. Its innovative design makes it feel like something from a sci-fi movie and its interior doesn’t disappoint either, with an incredible screen that runs the full width of the cabin and even includes the displays for the digital wing mirrors. The e is available in 136- and 154hp forms, but it has a relatively small battery which means a claimed range of 137 miles.
Its petiteness makes it an absolutely brilliant little city car, though, with an insanely tight turning circle making navigating city streets as easy as anything.
View the latest offers on Honda E leasing.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e is one of the UK's best-selling EVs and uses the same 50kWh battery pack and powertrain from the Peugeot e-208. It’s actually the fastest in the Corsa range, with the 136hp motor reaching 62mph from standstill in just eight seconds.
Although it is a small car, head- and legroom are good, with enough space across the rear bench for three people to sit comfortably. The Corsa-e is also priced reasonably, so it’s affordable, and there’s plenty of kit as standard on all models. You can expect to go up to 222 miles on a single charge of that sizeable battery pack, so this Vauxhall EV should get you between cities just as easily as it whizzes you around the streets of your local town.
View the latest [Vauxhall Corsa lease deals](https://www.vanarama.com/car-lease deals/vauxhall/corsa).
It may not have the range or practicality of some of the other rivals in its class, but there’s no doubting the appeal of the MINI Electric. Britain fell in love with the reimagined MINI when BMW brought it back in 2002. Now, nearly 20 years on, we still have as much affection for the most iconic car ever to be made on these shores.
Today, the MINI continues to stay on trend, with the same standout looks and an all-electric motor that has a surprising amount of power – 184hp – which means it drives and handles just like you expect a nippy little MINI to do.
Its small size means the MINI can’t hold the biggest battery and its punchy power output means you can use up its electricity pretty quickly if you’ve got a heavy right foot, so the MINI’s quoted range is lower than some others at 144 miles.
Find out more about how the EV MINI stacks up against the ICE MINI in our head-to-head.
View the latest offers on MINI Hatchback leasing.
It’s hard to ignore the small, affordable car that democratised electric cars for everyone. The first-generation Nissan Leaf laid some solid groundwork for inexpensive, all-electric family hatchbacks, but this sharper-suited second-generation versions builds on that with added dashes of both style and improved driving capability.
There are two battery packs for the Leaf, 40kWh in the standard car and then a larger 62kWh unit in the Leaf e+, a high-performance model with a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds. Choose either and you get a large, spacious cabin, loads of interior safety and comfort technology, and smooth, amenable driving manners.
Even if you stick with the 40kWh car, you’ll have a very useful 168 miles of one-shot driving range. But opt for that Leaf e+ and the range increases to 239 miles. That makes the Leaf one of the longest-distance affordable EVs of them all.
View the latest [Nissan Leaf lease deals](https://www.vanarama.com/car-lease deals/nissan/leaf).
GWM Ora Funky Cat
Daft name aside, the Great Wall Motors Ora Funky Cat is a talented electric car. It might not look very big, but it’s a spacious and roomy family car from a Chinese brand that is looking to challenge the automotive establishment – with loads of tech, a good driving range and a really high-quality passenger compartment.
The Ora Funky Cat is also a very friendly car, as Mark found out when he reviewed it, and the line-up is simple to understand. There’s one battery pack, a 48kWh item, and one motor, a 171hp effort, which means the Ora Funky Cat will go up to 193 miles on a single charge while also being capable of running 0-62mph in just 8.3 seconds. Fast, friendly and fun, the Funky Cat deserves serious consideration.
View the latest Ora Funky Cat lease deals.
The Volkswagen ID.3 is the manufacturer's third biggest launch after the Beetle and Golf. It’s hugely important to the future of the company as the first of a raft of ‘ID’ badged EVs of all shapes and sizes. An all-electric family hatchback, the ID.3 comes with two battery sizes, 58kWh and 77kWh. The former gives a decent one-shot range of 265 miles, but the latter offers a positively vast 347 miles – speaking of its ability to travel outside the city, not just in it.
The ID.3 is also a relatively powerful car and accelerates quickly, as its 204hp output means it can reach 62mph from stationary in 7.3 seconds. It’s cheap to run and retains its value well, which is why the ID.3 can be compared to the Nissan Leaf and Kia Niro EV in terms of efficiency.
The interior of the Volkswagen is hyper-modern, with a flashy digital dashboard, panoramic sunroof, parking cameras, and coloured trim.
View the latest offers on Volkswagen ID.3 leasing.
For starters, that unusual and edgy exterior clothes a spacious, well-built interior that’s packed with kit. There are two battery packs, the smaller of which will still take you up to 218 miles on a single charge, but if you go for the Long Range models with the 64kWh unit, then you can expect to go up to 281 miles without having to plug the MG4 in to charge.
Yet, for all this practicality and usefulness, the MG4 is very enjoyable to drive, with a smooth and comfortable ride on the one hand, and a sharp, engaging chassis on the other.
View the latest [MG4 lease deals](https://www.vanarama.com/car-lease deals/mg-motor-uk/mg4).
Like the Honda e, the Mazda MX-30 has a small 35kWh battery pack. Mazda says that installing a smaller battery helps keep costs down and that it expects most drivers to easily work within the quoted 124-mile range.
The MX-30 is a well-thought-out electric car – the ‘mini-SUV’ design means you sit nice and high. Even though the cabin is still ‘supermini’-sized, it has a distinctive charm to it. There’s plenty of load space to work with, too, and it even has funky rear doors that are hinged at the rear for a bit of kerbside showmanship.
Where the Mazda can really surprise, though, is out on the road. Many superminis are ideally suited to city driving, but the Mazda actually feels like a car that is at home on all roads. Some reviewers have even said it reminds them of Mazda’s brilliant little MX-5 convertible from behind the wheel.
View the latest offers on Mazda MX-30 leasing.
Best Small Electric Cars FAQs
Which small electric car has the best range?
Most small electric cars are prioritised for city driving and so have what their manufacturers call ‘right-sized’ batteries. This means they typically don’t do much more than 100-150 miles on a single charge, although that’s more than enough for purely urban users who have charging points both at home and at their place of work. However, there are a number of small EVs which now go more than 200 miles – like the Peugeot e-208, Citroen e-C4 and Vauxhall Corsa-e, for instance – and if you pick a VW ID.3 with the giant 77kWh battery pack, it can go up to 347 miles on a single charge.
Are smaller electric cars faster to charge?
Yes and no. Yes, because they have physically smaller battery packs which don’t take as long to replenish as some of the larger EVs with 70kWh-plus units. And no, because smaller electric cars don’t tend to have the super-rapid charging speed capabilities (100kW-plus). That said, most of the cars on our list will take no more than 30 minutes on a rapid DC public connection to go from 10-80 per cent battery charge, while they should all recharge overnight easily when connected to a 7kW domestic wallbox.
Find out more about how to charge an electric car in our guide.
What are the most stylish small electric cars?
The Fiat 500 Electric, Honda e and GWM Ora Funky Cat all place great emphasis on having appealing exterior and interior styling, while the Mazda MX-30 blends a crossover-SUV body with unusual features such as a cork-lined cabin and rear-hinged back doors. However, for sheer cute appeal, little can match up to the ‘push-me, pull-you’ looks of the tiny Citroen Ami.
For more cars that are stylish without costing over the odds, check out our picks of the most affordable and best looking cars.
What is the most powerful small electric car?
There are a number of cars on our list with healthy power outputs of more than 170hp, like the Ora Funky Cat (171hp), MINI Electric (184hp) and VW ID.3 (204hp). However, the most powerful small EV on our list – capable of running 0-62mph in a hot-hatch-like 6.9 seconds – is the Nissan Leaf e+, with 217hp.
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