Small electric cars bring great advantage when navigating twisting, narrow rural roads or even moving swiftly through congested towns and cities. With their impressively low running costs and stylish designs, it's easy to understand why many city dwellers are making the switch to an electric city car.
But with more and more models to choose from as time goes on, which should you shortlist? Well, luckily, we are on hand to guide you through what your options are when selecting your next car with our top picks.
- Renault Zoe
- Nissan Leaf
- Volkswagen ID.3
- Volkswagen e-up!
- BMW i3
- Seat Mii Electric
- Mini Electric
First up, we have the Renault ZOE, an instantly recognisable electric supermini that has been around since 2014. As the years have passed, the ZOE has grown leaps and bounds into the reliable all-rounder it is today. Each iteration has brought increased range, usability, and new innovative features.
Renault claims a range for the ZOE of 245-mile. By far one of the best you'll find in a car of this class. An awe-inspiring range on a single charge.
Given the excellent range, this Renault is getting to the point where it is no longer just a city car good for getting to your weekly shop but capable of longer trips. Perfect for all your driving needs. Newer models even benefit from CCS fast charging. This can bring the time down to as little as 3-hours to get you back to fully charged.
When driving the ZOE, you can expect a high drive quality. It's a true winner in most conditions, from its responsive handling to speedy acceleration and near-silent running.
As the ZOE has been out for several years, you are spoiled for choice on the used market. Of course, there are also new models released each year featuring the latest developments. One thing is for sure. The Renault ZOE is genuinely one of the best EVs in its class.
With over 10-years of going from strength to strength, the Nissan Leaf brings a rare blend of reliability and functionality to your driving experience. Over the years, the Leaf has gained a lot of recognition in the EV market. This has also been represented in the number of sales it has as one of the most popular pure EVs in the UK.
The latest models boast a range of 239-miles with the E+ model or 168 with the standard, which is ample for most journeys. Also compatible with rapid chargers, you can take the Leaf from 20-80% in an hour. This hatchback also features regenerative braking with its intuitive e-Pedal. This takes away the need for using the brake in many situations by automatically slowing the car once you lift your foot from the accelerator.
As far as speed goes, newer models of the Leaf can get from 0-62mph in under 8 seconds. Drive quality is also generally good with proficient handling and nippy manoeuvring. Making it perfect for what it was intended for, a stand-out commuter car that is considerate to the environment.
Just like the ZOE above, getting a great deal on a second-hand Leaf is easy with a healthy used market. Of course, Nissan is still improving this hatchback every year for those looking for something with a bit more power.
The Volkswagen ID.3 is the first to be released from VW's ID collection, and it does not disappoint.
This electric hatchback boasts a range of 263 miles and can make it to 62mph in 7.3 seconds, not too bad at all. It does cap out at 99mph. Whilst this might make it sound a little lacklustre, you've got to think how often do you need to drive 100 miles per hour?
As this car was designed as electric first and not a ICE model, which was repurposed into being a hybrid or electric car, it benefits from each design decision being deliberate and geared to electric driving. The ID.3 is even the first car to use Volkswagens latest MED architecture which was created specifically for EVs.
As you'd expect from a German car, the ID.3 offers a very refined ride. With nimble steering and brisk acceleration, perfect for navigating the concrete jungle.
To meet your unique lifestyle, Volkswagen has offered the ID.3 in eight trim levels. From a little city car all the way up to an EV capable of meeting any challenge you put in front of it, there is an ID.3 for everyone.
The Volkswagen e-up! is the second of this German manufacturers cars to make it to this list, and for a good reason. With incredible attractive pricing and a broad selection of trims to choose from, the e-up! is an excellent option for anyone looking for a new car designed to thrive in the city.
The latest model has a range of 159-miles, a reasonable range for a car of this size. This is thanks to its 36.8kWh battery and 82bhp electric motor, which powers it. You'll have no problem swiftly nipping through city street in the e-up! with the 155lb ft of torque it produces. Quickly taking advantage of spaces in traffic is very easy - especially given its smaller presence on the road.
In terms of value for money against rival EVs the e-up! is one of the best. Retailing several thousand cheaper than most other comparable city cars. It's even eligible for a government grant to lessen the cost even further.
Don't think, since it's on the more affordable end of the scale, that it doesn't bring any premium features. Split through six trim levels, each growing in specification, you can pick the version to suit your needs.
Inside you'll have no trouble fitting four people comfortably. It does also offer a generous 251-litre boot space, quite a lot for a city car. This certainly reinforces its status as an excellent option for city dwellers.
Other reasons to choose this little car include intuitive controls and how enjoyable it is to drive. This is a hallmark of anything Volkswagen produces, though. Really though, it would be hard to go wrong by making a VW e-up your next car.
Next up, we BMW's i3, an eye-catching hatchback that will turn the heads of anyone you drive past. It boasts a respectable 191-mile WLTP range and can charge in as little as 6 hours on a 7kW charger.
It was first released in 2013, and each year it has gained range, power, and upgrades to interior technology. This has lead to the BMW i3's reputation as a fun driving experience with excellent drivability, responsive controls, and a modern appeal.
Don't mistake the appearance of the car for lack of space inside. Thanks to the battery being positioned underneath the floor, there it has a spacious boot and shorter bonnet.
For those looking for something a little more adventurous, BMW has created the i3S, a sportier version of this i3. No matter which model you choose, you are sure to have an eye-catching car.
Seat Mii Electric
The SEAT Mii is another electric car that has been on the market for many years, having been first released in 2012. As with the other models confidence grew year by year. Even to the point in 2019, SEAT discontinued the petrol variant and now only offers the SEAT Mii Electric.
The Mii is similar to the Citigo e iV having the same electric motor and roughly the same range. However, the Mii does boast a more eye-catching design and higher spec. It also keeps things incredibly simple with only one trim.
Another benefit of this city car is incredibly affordable, especially compared to many other models in the same category. Many of which retail much higher.
Even though the Mii does sit closer to the entry-level of the electric car market, it does still offer many features you'd expect to see in higher-end models. Coming with heated seats, cruise control, and having the ability to heat the car before you get there gives the Mii an added luxurious edge.
So, if you're looking for a cost-effective, fun to drive commuter car, this might be the one for you.
Buying a Mini Electric offers a fun, agile driving experience which style to match.
This little hatchback utilises the same powertrain as the sporty BMW i3S. With 181bhp and 199lb ft of torque, catching the lights or zipping through spaces in traffic will be done with ease.
Where this car is let down a little is with the range. It has a 144-mile listed range which will work out to around a 120-mile range once you factor in other real-world environmental conditions. This is a little less than some other models on the list. However, it does excel in other areas.
One would be its performance. With a 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and 0-31mph in 3.9 seconds, you can see the appeal of this city car. It was also clearly crafted with urban life in mind too getting to 31mph in under 4 seconds - a strong performance against some of its peers.
Handling in the Mini is also incredibly responsive, paired with the solid acceleration makes is what allows it to navigate traffic efficiently. Also, with its small turning circle, parking is a breeze in this compact EV.
After seeing how many great small electric cars are on the market, it is easy to see that this car style is the perfect use case for electrification.
Whilst you will pay more up-front for the car you will save far more on the other end on running costs. Maintenance and depreciation will be far slower too. There is no shortage of good reasons to go electric with your next car.