Best Small Electric Cars 2021: The Complete Guide

mini electric car

Air quality, environment and zero-emission electric cars are now centre stage in our narrative for seeking a better and cleaner quality of life. Small is even more beautiful, when it comes to battery-electric vehicles!


If there is one positive from the ongoing pandemic, it is, that fewer the motor vehicles in our urban centres, towns and villages, the better the outcome for us all. National, regional and local governments across the globe have recognised this and have adopted a focus to improve air quality, by replacing polluting cars by zero-emission electric cars and electric vans.

In the UK, cities, towns and villages sadly have one thing in common: increased air pollution. Though a number of factors contribute to air pollution, one of the key offenders has been tailpipe emissions from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. This has resulted in a significant increase of air pollution, that has impacted the health of a number of individuals, to include the vulnerable, like the young and old.

Consumers across the UK have now come to the realisation that they can easily play a positive role in the reduction of dangerous pollutants, by simply replacing their polluting petrol and diesel cars with, zero tailpipe emission pure electric cars. All-electric cars have a number of significant advantages over the petrol and diesel cars, but none as important as, no tailpipe pollution. In fact, a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) does not even have a tailpipe!

Electric cars have come a long way over the past decade, but the rise of electric driving over the past 24 months has been phenomenal. The increase has been driven by consumers (individuals, families and businesses) across the country, keen to adopt a cleaner and more environment-friendly mode of transportation.

Moreover, electric vehicles (EVs) have become much more affordable, in particular, the compact electric cars. In fact, running a small pure electric car can cost as little a 2 pence per mile. Wow!

ashvin suri e-zoomed founder
You Can Recharge A Pure Electric Car For £5 (Ashvin Suri, Founder e-zoomed)

Apart from the environmental benefits, small electric cars can save individuals and families a lot of money. As an example, if you charge a small electric car overnight, you can achieve a fully charged EV battery in under £5. To fill a petrol and diesel small car is significantly more, and in most case more than £50 for a full tank.

Small electric cars are perfect for small families, couples or individuals. The electric car range of small EVs have increased, with most achieving more than 100 electric miles (WLTP). In any case, in the UK the average car journey is 12 miles, so for most requirements, a small electric city car will be perfect. Moreover, most small electric cars only need to be charged once or twice a week. For those with larger families, we would encourage either buying a larger pure electric family car, or an all-electric SUV or pure electric compact crossover.

Thought the universe of small electric cars continues to explode, we have highlighted below our top list of pure small electric cars that are perfect for cities, towns and villages! Of course, keep in mind you can lease electric cars via e-zoomed at fantastic prices!


Best Small Electric Cars: Top Picks


  • The All-Electric BMW i3
  • The All-Electric Fiat New 500 Hatchback
  • The All-Electric Honda e
  • The MINI Electric Hatch
  • The All-Electric New Peugeot e-208
  • The All-Electric Smart EQ Forfour
  • The All-Electric Volkswagen e-up!

Electric Cars: The Basics


For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we would recommend a read of the following articles:


The All-Electric BMW i3


The BMW i3 electric hatchback is part of the BMW zero-emission sub brand ‘BMW i’. The plug-in electric i3 car is the first mass-market BEV manufactured by BMW. The BMW i3 made its debut at the International Motor Show in Germany 2011, with production commencing in 2013 in Leipzig, Germany.

The BMW i3 has won a number of awards, to include, the World Green Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, World Car of the Year and an iF Product Design Gold Award. The larger EV battery pack (42.2 kWh) was announced in 2018. In October 2017, the 100,000th BMW i3 rolled off the production line and the 200,000th BMW i3 rolled off the Leipzig production line in October 2020.   

BMW i3 electric car
The All-Electric BMW i3 (credit: BMW)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (2 Options)
BMW i3 (from £33,805)
BMW i3s (from £34,805)
PROSCONS
Good performanceDC charging limited to 50 kW
Good design and stylingSmall boot and rear headroom limited
11 kW on-board chargerCheaper alternatives available
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (42.2 kWh)
Charging:50 kW rapid charging (0%-80%: 42 mins). On-board charger 11 kW AC
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Warranty:8 years or 100,000 miles
BMW i3 120Ah
EV Battery Capacity:42.2 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):182-190 miles
Electric Energy Consumption (miles/kWh):3.9-4.1
Charging:50 kW rapid charging (0%-80%: 42 mins). On-board charger 11 kW AC
Top Speed:93 mph
0-62 mph:7.3 seconds
Drive:Rear-wheel drive (RWD)
Electric Motor (kW):125
Max Power (hp):170
Torque (Nm):250
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:5
Driving Modes:N/A
Unladen Weight-EU (kg):1,345
Colours:7

The All-Electric Fiat New 500 Hatchback


The Fiat 500 electric car has its roots in the classic 1957 Fiat 500, a car that has been hugely successful and iconic (sold more than 2 million cars globally). The Fiat New 500 EV is bigger than the international combustion engine (ICE) car: 6 cm in width and length, 22mm longer wheelbase.

fiat electric car
The All-Electric Fiat New 500 Hatchback (credit: Fiat)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine Options:Available in two engine options. 70 KW 93HP and 87 KW 118 HP
On Sale In UK:Yes
Trims (4 Options)
500 Action (from: £19,995)
500 Passion (from: £23,495)
500 Icon (from: £24,995)
500 La Prima (from: £26,995)
Note: The 70 KW engine is available only in the Action trim, while the 87 KW engine option is available in the Passion, Icon and La Prima trims.
PROSCONS
Perfect for city drivingRear seats with limited legroom
Stylish, fun & iconicNot practical for a larger family
One pedal drivingLimited boot space to carry luggage and other kit
Good zero-emission rangeExpensive compared to some alternatives
Good turning radiusBlind spots
Level 2 autonomous drivingParts of some interior cheap
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in two sizes (24 kWh & 42 kWh)
Charging:2,3kW AChome outlet(single-phase 13A)(0-100%)MODE2, 11kW AC station (three-phase 16A) (0-100%)-MODE3, up to 85kW DC Fast Charging – MODE 4 (0-80%)
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Model: 70 kW 93hp
Engine:70 kW 93hp
EV Battery Capacity:24 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):118 miles (combined)
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):160 miles (city)
Electric Consumption (kWh/100km):13
Charging:50 kW DC Fast Charging
Top Speed:84 mph
0-60 mph:9.5 seconds
Drive:Front-wheel drive
Electric Motor (kW):70
Max Power (hp):93
Torque (Nm):220
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:3
Kerb Weight (kg)1365

The All-Electric Honda e


The all-electric Honda e-prototype car is based on the Honda Urban EV concept.  The Urban EV concept made its debut at the 2017 International Motor Show, in Germany. It is Honda’s first mass-market all-electric car.  Honda is ramping up its commitment to electrification with all new Honda’s in Europe to be electrified by 2025.  

An adorable, cute, clean and simple design.  The premium compact battery-electric vehicle (BEV), minimalist design has been inspired by the first-generation Honda Civic. Positioned primarily for driving in urban environments, with a range that is appropriate for shorter commutes. Honda is targeting urban commuter that drive up to 30 miles a day. Built on a dedicated platform, with rear-wheel drive.  A smaller lithium-ion EV battery pack (35.5 kWh) to keep weight down. The battery is liquid-cooled to maximise performance in all weather conditions.

honda e electric car
The All-Electric Honda e (credit: Honda)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (2 Options)
Honda e (from £28,215)
Honda e Advance (from £30,715)
PROSCONS
Perfect for city drivingExpensive compared to other BEV city cars on the market
‘Retro’ design and styling well positioned to ‘win hearts’Limited range
Appealing characteristics for city driving: easy to drive and park (impressive turning radius)small boot
Packed with technology: side view mirrors replaced with cameras and extensive 12.3-inch dual touchscreensTouchscreens sluggish
High spec safety packageInterior materials feel cheap
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (35.5 kWh)
Charging:50 kW rapid charging
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Honda e
EV Battery Capacity:35.5 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):137 miles (combined)
EV Operation Efficiency (kWh/100km):17.2 kWh
Charging:50 kW Rapid Charging (on board charger: 6.6kW AC)
Top Speed:90 mph
0-62 mph:9 seconds
Drive:Rear-wheel drive
Electric Motor (kW):100 kW
Max Power (PS):136
Torque (Nm):315
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:5
Kerb Weight (kg)1,513-1,514

The MINI Electric Hatch


The MINI Electric was launched in 2020. BMW used its experience with the all-electric BMW i3 to develop the all-electric MINI. The MINI electric concept car was unveiled in the 2017 Frankfurt IAA. The MINI electric is currently manufactured in the UK (Oxford).

However, MINI first went electric in 2008. The 612 MINI E cars were modified and used between 2009 and 2013 for the BMW Group to assess driver response to electric cars. The MINI E electric cars clocked up more than 16 million kilometres in six countries. The company also manufactures the MINI Countryman PHEV.

mini electric UK hatch
The All-Electric MINI Hatch (credit: MINI)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (4 Options)
MINi Electric Level 1 (from £26,00)
MINi Electric Level 2 (from £28,000)
MINi Electric Level 3 (from £32,000)
MINi Electric Collection (from £32,500)
PROSCONS
Good looks and exterior styling (iconic)Limited cabin space and unpractical for a family (3-door)
Good electric performanceLimited zero-emission range
High quality interior and standard equipmentLimited visibility (rear)
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (32.6 kWh)
Charging:50 kW rapid charging standard (80% charged in 36 minutes). On-board charger 11 kW AC
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Warranty:8 years or 100,000 miles
New MINI Electric Hatch
EV Battery Capacity:32.6 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):140-145 miles
Electric Energy Consumption (kWh/100km):15.2-15.9
Charging:50 kW Rapid Charging (on-board charger: 11 kW AC)
Top Speed:93 mph
0-62 mph:7.3 seconds
Drive:Front-wheel drive
Electric Motor (kW):135
Max Power (HP):184
Torque (Nm):270
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:3
Driving Modes:4 (Sport, Mid, Green, Green +)
Kerb Weight (kg):1,365
Colours:6

The All-Electric New Peugeot e-208


The Peugeot pure electric e-208 hails from the Peugeot 208 supermini  portfolio, first unveiled at the Geneva Motors Show in 2012.  The second generation 208 was unveiled by the French automotive manufacturer in 2019, at the Geneva Motor Show.  At the same time, the company also unveiled the all-electric e-208 hatchback supermini. Peugeot has retained ‘familiarity’ with the design, for the e-208 all-electric hatchback.  The battery electric vehicle (BEV) is very similar to its sibling petrol and diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

The pure electric e-208 comes with 3 driving modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. The Eco gives priority to range, while the Sport gives priority to performance (0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds). The Normal mode is for everyday use.

peugeot e-208 electric
The All-Electric Peugeot e-208 Hatchback (credit: Peugeot)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (5 Options)
Active Premium (from £29,725)
Allure (from £30,375)
Allure Premium (from £31,025)
GT (from £32,975)
GT Premium (from £33,975)
PROSCONS
A good option for zero-emission city drivingLimited interior space
Good looks and practicalMore expensive than other smaller EVs
Good range (rapid charging as standard)Infotainment system can be improved
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (50 kWh)
Charging:100 kW rapid charging standard (80% charged in under 30 minutes). On-board charger 7.4 kW AC
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Warranty:8 years or 100,000 miles
New Peugeot e-208
EV Battery Capacity:50 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):217 miles
Electric Energy Consumption (Wh/km):159-176
Charging:100 kW Rapid Charging (on-board charger: 7.4 kW AC)
Top Speed:93 mph
0-62 mph:8.1 seconds
Drive:Front-wheel drive
Electric Motor (kW):100
Max Power (PS):136
Torque (Nm):260
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:5
Doors:5
Kerb Weight (kg):1,455
Colours:8

The All-Electric Smart EQ Forfour


The Smart Forfour internal combustion engine (ICE) city car was first introduced in Europe in 2004. The Smart Forfour EV, an electric variant of the city car, has been available since 2018 (launched in 2017). This battery-electric vehicle (BEV) shares its platform with the Renault Twingo and is manufactured in Slovenia.   

smart electric car forfour
The All-Electric Smart Forfour (credit: Smart)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (2 Options)
Premium (from £21,940)
Exclusive (from £23,090)
PROSCONS
Good looksSmall EV battery with limited range
High standard specificationsLimited boot and rear space
Well suited for city driving. Easy to drive and parkCheaper alternatives available
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (17.6 kWh)
Charging:On-board charger 22 kW AC. 10% to 80% using 22 kW wallbox: 40 mins
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
Warranty:8 years or 62,000 miles
Smart EQ Forfour
EV Battery Capacity:17.6 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):77 miles
Electric Energy Consumption (kWh/100km):17.0-17.1
Charging:On-board charger: 22 kW AC
Top Speed:81 mph
0-62 mph:12.7 seconds
Drive:Rear-wheel drive (RWD)
Electric Motor (kW):60
Max Power (HP):82
Torque (Nm):160
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:5
Driving Modes:N/A
Kerb Weight (kg):1,200
Colours:7

The All-Electric Volkswagen e-up!


The Volkswagen e-up! is a city car that was launched as an internal combustion engine (ICE) model in 2011. The battery-electric vehicle (BEV) variant was launched in 2013 at the International Motor Show Germany. The original pure electric e-up! had a 18.7 kWh lithium-ion EV battery. The second-generation all-electric VW e-up! was announced in 2019.

The electric e-up! can be leased via e-zoomed at fantastic price. Simply follow this link!

vw electric car
The All-Electric Volkswagen e-up! Available For Lease Via e-zoomed (credit: VW)
At A Glance
EV Type:Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Vehicle Type:Hatchback
Plug-In Car Grant (PiCG):Available
Engine:Electric
Available In UK:Yes
Trims (1 Option)
e-up! (from £23,555)
PROSCONS
A good option for pure electric city drivingLimited interior space
Well equippedLacks automatic emergency braking
Easy to drive Limited range for out of city trips
EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size (32.3 kWh)
Charging:40 kW rapid charging standard. On-board charger 7.2 kW AC
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:0g (CO2/km)
VW e-up!
EV Battery Capacity:32.3 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):159 miles (combined)
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):220 miles (city)
Charging:40 kW Rapid Charging (on-board charger: 7.2kW AC)
Top Speed:81 mph
0-62 mph:11.9 seconds
Drive:Front-wheel drive
Electric Motor (kW):61
Max Power (PS):82
Torque (Nm):210
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:4
Doors:5
Unladen Weight (kg):1,235
Colours:8

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EV Charging Stations Available Via e-zoomed

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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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