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8 small electric cars to buy in 2024

22nd April 2024
Russell Campbell

High prices tend to put private buyers off buying their first electric car, especially when they realise an EV can't match the range of a petrol-powered equivalent. The flip side of this is that EVs can suffer near cataclysmic depreciation – a few years wiping two-thirds off their value – making a used EV a canny purchase in the right circumstances. Ideally, you'll have a place to charge the car at home, allowing you to take full advantage of cheap charging and a short commute that falls well within the car's range. Sound like you? Then, keep reading for our guide to the best small electric cars on sale.

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Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe started the small-electric-car ball rolling when it went on sale in 2013, and it's just stood down to make way for the new (and much funkier) 5 EV. While it can't match the coolness of its retrospective replacement, the Zoe is a great advertisement for why electricity and small cars go together like apple pie and custard. If you stay well within city limits, the tiny range of an early Zoe (130 miles originally, potentially a lot less now) isn't such an issue and the payoff is surprising off-the-line performance and excellent refinement.

Although unspectacular to look at, the five-door Zoe is practical for a small car and comes with a spec list to match a high-end petrol equivalent. Better still, prices for an early Zoe start from less than £5,000.

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Fiat 500 Electric

The Fiat 500 is another small car that suits its electric powertrain. Powered by electricity, the 500 has the drivetrain refinement and performance you'd expect of a small car that markets itself as a premium alternative to the likes of the Hyundai i20 and Mazda 2. The Fiat feels seriously nippy off the line, spinning up its front tyres with hilarious ease, and it's quiet and straightforward to drive with no gearbox to worry about.

Sadly, a crashy ride means the Fiat doesn't have the sophisticated feel of a Mini, and, like its British rival, it's a bad option if you ever want to carry adults in the back. But who cares because £13,000 – or less than half of its original list price – buys you a 2021 car with a handful of miles on the clock?

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Mazda MX-30

The Mazda MX-30 is one of these cars that goes down in history as being ahead of its time. Designed for the city, the MX-30 gets a small battery intended to preserve the company's Jinba Ittai (horse and rider) handling. The downside is that the 36kWh battery gives you a range of not much more than 100 miles. Most people hate that idea, but every cloud has a silver lining, and the MX-30 is outrageously cheap to buy second-hand – how cheap? Less than £12,000 buys you a car worth over £27,000 less than three years ago.

If you can live with the range, you'll have yourself a small SUV that's tidy to drive, has a posh cabin and has more space inside than you'll get in an equivalent small EV.

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Peugeot e-208

The Peugeot e-208 is a small electric car for thinkers. Getting nearly 200 miles from a charge means the Peugeot doesn't suffer from the range anxiety of other small EVs, yet the performance remains brisk, meaning this is one EV that isn't afraid to break free from the city limits. The Peugeot leans towards comfort more than a sporting setup, which is an ideal match for the silence and one-gear running of the electric motor. Inside, you get updated infotainment with a smartphone mirroring a cabin that is roomy for a car of this size.

The downside is that the e-208 lacks the cache of trendier alternatives, but you'll likely not care when you realise a car with less than 25,000 miles on the clock can be yours for less than £13,000.

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Honda e

With minimalist retro looks, a posh interior with bare wood, an infotainment screen that doubles as a fish tank, and Playstation connectivity, the Honda e is without doubt the coolest car on this list. However, at a high price and a poor range, it was never the success it deserved to be.

But as a second-hand buy, it looks like an altogether more exciting proposition, with prices starting from well under £15,000. Your money buys you a highly manoeuvrable small car that's great for zipping around town (probably where it should stay, with a range of not much more than 100 miles between charges). While the Honda has the practicality of five doors, it's not actually that roomy, with a tight back seat and a small boot.

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Dacia Spring

The Dacia Spring is the car the naysayers told us could never be built – a small electric car that undercuts petrol-power equivalents like the Hyundai i10 in price. The Spring starts from under £15,000, giving you a new-car alternative to the used cars on this list.

It's pretty clear how Dacia has made the Spring so cheap. Its doors close with a hollow clang and the parts of the interior that have trim (much of it is bare metal) are wrapped in hard plastics that feel cheap. Acceleration of 0-62mph in 19.1 seconds will feel shockingly slow, and the battery range can drop below 70 miles, but if you're looking for a new car to provide cheap inner-city transport, the Spring remains a good option.

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Citroën Ami

As you've probably already gathered, most small electric cars are best left in the city, where they have plenty of range and are very easy to drive, so why not go the whole hog and buy a quadricycle like the Citroën Ami? The benefits of the Ami are self-explanatory; as a micro car, it's incredibly easy to manoeuvre and can park in places other cars can't. Its 5.5kWh battery costs buttons to charge, and with a roof and two proper seats, it's a more practical alternative to a scooter or bicycle.

The downsides of Ami ownership are also fairly obvious. With a top speed of 28mph, it's fine in town but useless anywhere else, and its small footprint means it can feel sketchy in corners if you're brave enough to test its limits. Safety is also a bit of a mystery (although we'd wager it's not great), and while two people will fit inside, there's barely enough room left for bags. But with new prices starting at less than £6,000, perhaps we're being over-fussy.

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Mini Electric

The Mini Electric is another small EV that depreciates like it's been rolled off a cliff – £13,500 is all you need to get your hands on one, close to a third of what the original owner would have paid in 2020.

With 184PS (135kW) to call on, the Mini has genuine hot hatch performance and a chassis that can exploit the power. The small battery means you'll get no more than 170 miles between charges, but on the flip side, it helps the Mini feel more nimble than most petrol-powered equivalents. Funky paint jobs and a cool interior make the Mini one of the desirable cars on this list, although the small boot and tight back seat mean it certainly isn't the most practical.

  • Renault

  • Fiat

  • Mazda

  • Peugeot

  • Honda

  • Dacia

  • Citroen

  • Mini

  • Zoe

  • 500 Electric

  • MX-30

  • e-208

  • Honda e

  • Spring

  • Ami

  • 3-door electric

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