Congested urban streets are the electric car's playground. Calm, silent progress, all power instantly available, whisking you guilt- and fee-free through any and every low and no emission zone. For manufacturers, the small electric car market is make-or-break: some have bestowed stand-out styling on their smaller battery-powered offerings, while others have kept design as quiet as possible to tempt electric-wary customers. Watch out for range, too: are you happy with around 100 miles? Or does occasional motorway driving mean you'll need twice that? Happily there's a wide choice. Best of all: if you choose well, the small car electric revolution can be both fun and stylish. Here's our 10 best small electric cars. Take your pick.
10 best small electric cars in 2023
Smart EQ ForTwo
Tiny two-seater is most compact of available diminutive plug-ins, with just enough space behind you for a supermarket shop. Smart have been making their pioneering micro-cars since 1994, so know a thing or two about packing all that you need in a smaller-than-expected space. Range is 100 miles, more than adequate if you're going to use your little Smart for local journeys only, parking a breeze because of modest dimensions.
Design-led style reflects ambitiously upmarket aims of Cupra, Seat's spin-off brand, with the first all-electric Cupra named after one of Barcelona's most fashionable districts to underline the point. Range is an impressive 300 miles, allowing for just about every journey you're likely to take in your deluxe made-in-Germany Spanish hatchback. Interiors have a striking premium flavour. Biggest selling point: it's a VW Group car with a badge you're unlikely to encounter every day. Bravo!
Restyled Fiat hit still reflects original 1957 500, and to our eyes, more successfully. Uniquely, the company has kept the old, fossil-fuelled, 500 on sale, while these nifty new looks are only available to those going electric. Offer is compelling: range of more than 280 miles shatters city car boundaries, so-called Sherpa Mode engages when batteries are low to make sure you get home. Interiors express Italian deluxe minimalism.
A highly distinctive look marks out BMW's little electric hatch from the crowd. Idea is that this really is the future: with construction from lightweight carbon fibre-based materials to offset weight of batteries, and small addtional petrol engine on Range Extender models. Interiors equally avant garde, expressing form-follows-function ethos. Range of up to 200 miles is adequate for most, cleansheet approach hasn't always won fans and BMW is planning to end production early. Owners love them, though.
Hugely popular, neat little offering from Renault, among the pioneers of electric propulsion for its smaller cars. Range of 210 miles easily meets the needs of most urban drivers, looks individual enough to mark it out from the crowd without any need to yell about its environmental credentials from the rooftops. Interiors are functional rather than fancy, as you'd expect from one of the cheapest EVs on the market, and all the better for that.
A big bet from Wolfsburg and one that's already paying off, the ID.3 is a hit with drivers reassured by the always-reliable VW badge, here the centrepiece of an idiosyncratic front end. Styling manages neat trick of blending the completely new - most designers still working out what to do now that a conventional grille is not needed - with the reassuringly Golf-like familiar. Expect range of up to 300 miles with impressive speed on offer from the Pro Performance models. Interiors are exactly as solid as you'd expect from VW.
The hardy Leaf has been around so long in electric car terms - a whole 11 years - that it's tempting to call this latest version of Nissan's bulbous little hatch evergreen, but we'll resist that. Naturally each Leaf comes with all of Nissan's renowned engineered-in reliability, if lacking just a little in the way of sparkle. Range is just under 200 miles and, again being Nissan, the practicalities are foregrounded: plenty of space for passengers and your next big supermarket shop. Well worth a look.
Adventurously sporty styling from Peugeot's latest hatch, from the signature "lion's claw" lights to bulging wheelarches which give the little car a real sense of presence, The e-208 is almost identical to petrol-powered versions, Peugeot taking the increasingly popular "don't frighten the horses" approach when it comes to styling their first small all-electric contender. Range is just over 175 miles, about average for this class, but the real attraction here is the e-208's quirky French flair.
A real success story for this Oxford-built electric version of Mini's zesty little hatch. Looks - with some distinctive colour accents - remain largely the same, wheels wittily mimic plug sockets, in characteristically cheeky Mini style. Reviewers give it high marks for its handling and fun-factor, despite the extra weight demanded by batteries. Fast too - with 184 bhp at your disposal - and enough range - 133 miles - for your urban journeys.
Honda have hit the mark with their design-led E. The E is electric car as minimalist statement, featuring clean, calm - almost childlike - lines. Interiors have been completely reinvented with an across-the-dash series of screens - monitoring the digital mirrors among many other features - and widespread use of tactile materials. Wood trim adds to the ambience, as if you're sitting back with a dirty chai at Soho House rather than piloting this truly innovative little electric car. Range is just 112 miles, which Honda reckon is more than enough for most urbanites.
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