► The best small electric cars of 2023► Our guide to the UK’s top compact EVs
► Plus our buying advice
Electric cars are within reach of more drivers than ever before. Manufacturers began their shift to electrification by fitting motors to big SUVs and saloons with higher prices and larger margins. But now there’s a wide range of small EVs to get excited about, and compact electric cars make a lot of sense.
They can be fitted with smaller batteries, weigh less overall, have lower prices, and with the nippy performance of electric motors are the perfect way to zip in and out of city traffic, silently and while producing zero tailpipe emissions.
Prices are still higher than the equivalent petrol car, but parity edges closer every year, and already a wide range of manufacturers offer small EVs, from Mini and Renault, to Honda, BMW, Fiat and more. In this guide, we will disclose our pick of the best small electric cars 2023.
Range is the WLTP estimate provided by each manufacturer.
Further electric car reading:
- Where to charge in the UK? An EV guide
- Electric car tax: how it works
- A guide to VW’s electric cars
- Learning to drive in an electric car
The only real drawback is that you won’t get as much range from a small electric car, but this won’t matter for most drivers as these vehicles tend to cover shorter journeys anyway. If you’ve got your own off-street parking, charging will never be an issue.
The best small electric cars in 2023
Read on for our guide to the best compact EVs – or you can jump straight to the cars you’re interested in using the links below:
- Mini Electric
- Mercedes EQA
- Honda E
- BMW I3
- Renault Zoe
- Smart EQ
- VW e-UP
- Peugeot e-208
- Fiat 500
- From £27,000
- Range: 140-145 miles
A fully electric Mini wasn’t even in the product plan when the F56 generation debuted in 2014, but here we are. If you want a Mini and want to go electric, this is a Mini to look at, sit in and (mostly) drive. The brand’s brief of delivering a three-door car that is largely indistinguishable from its combustion-engined compatriots has been delivered in full.
However, if you simply want a small electric car, the Mini Electric is beset on all sides with fiercely competitive rivals and is a touch less convincing because of it. If you look elsewhere, you can get the same range for less, more range for a similar price or a far more interesting car. Who’d have thought a Mini would be outdone in the character stakes?
- From £45,645
- Range: 264 miles
The Mercedes EQA is the second EV from Stuttgart, and aims to offer a cheaper way into the brand’s quickly expanding EQ range. Priced from £45,645, the EQA undercuts a lot of the competition. It lacks the flair and focus of its electric rivals, but it undercuts them anyway; its price tag is significantly cheaper than the BMW iX3’s £60k asking price. Add in a competitive range, and it gets easier and easier to ignore the Mercedes’ dull looks.
- From £34,365
- Range: 137 miles
What an interesting little conundrum the Honda E is. Its dinky size, cute face and properly cool interior are the biggest draws in its charm arsenal, so much so that some might overlook the low-ish available range and the price higher than other city EVs (it starts at a toppy £34,420 in the UK). It accelerates well enough and is one of the best-handling small electric cars around – with a super-tight turning circle for nipping around town. We like it. A lot.
Read our Honda e review
- From £27,595
- Range: 239 miles
The Renault Zoe is one of our favourite small electric cars and is fair value at around £27,595.
This is a bespoke EV and now in its second generation. The latest update includes a battery pack with a 245-mile capable range under the official WLTP cycle. Latest tech from the most recent Clio has found its way inside, and the previous generation is cracking value secondhand. However, a poor Euro NCAP crash test score for the latest generation of Zoe leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
- From £28,260
- Range: 225 miles
At only £665 more than the Renault Zoe, the Peugeot e-208 will give buyers a serious headache if choosing between the two. Its 50kWh battery doesn’t offer quite as much range – 225 miles succumbs to the Zoe’s 239 – but the e-208 has a lot going for it in other areas. For a start it’s considerably more stylish inside and out, with high-quality materials in the cabin designed to attract drivers after a more premium experience.
A 136bhp motor drives the front wheels for 0-62mph in 8.1sec and the e-208 will take a 100kW charge, replenishing the battery to the tune of six miles per minute. If you’re not convinced you could always look at the Corsa-e, which is Vauxhall’s take on what is essentially the same car.
- From £20,995
- Range: 118 miles
The latest-generation Fiat 500 has gone electric only, but on the face of it the entry-level version’s 118 miles of range looks quite stingy in comparison to the other cars on the list. However, that’s from the ‘City Range’ 24kWh battery; upgrade to the ‘Long Range’ 42kWh unit and you’ll be looking at a much healthier 199 miles, albeit having added about £5,000 to the purchase price.
Go for the latter and you’ll get a more powerful motor thrown in, delivering 116bhp and a 0-62mph time of around nine seconds. Crucially it’s the first half of that sprint where the 500 is quickest, and as a city car it’s where most drivers will appreciate its acceleration the most. It handles like a 500 should and the interior is exactly what you’d expect: chic and plasticy. In a good way. Speedy 85kW charging capability means a 30-mile top-up takes five minutes and filling the battery to 80% takes as little as 35 minutes.
Read our Fiat 500 review
Do you agree with our choice of the best small electric cars 2023? Be sure to sound off in the comments below!