One of the main reasons people are put off buying an EV is cost. Quite simply, the initial outlay for a battery-powered car is more than an equivalent petrol or diesel model in almost all cases. There are plenty of EVs out there that aren’t expensive, though, and here we’ll bring you the ten cheapest.
Jump to:Smart fortwo and forfour – from £19,200 Fiat 500 – from £20,495 Volkswagen e-up! – from £21,055 MG5 EV – from £25,095 Nissan LEAF – from £25,995 MINI Electric – from £26,000 MG ZS EV – from £26,095 Vauxhall Corsa-e – from £26,390 Peugeot e-208 – from £27,225 Renault ZOE – from £27,595
We’re going to caveat our list with a couple of things. Firstly, whilst we love the Renault Twizy, it’s not actually classified as a car, so despite costing less than £12k, it’s out of this list. The other thing is that the EVs noted here are available to buy new, right now, here in the UK. All of the cars on this list qualify for the government’s £2500 plug-in car grant.
We’re lumping the two EVs from Smart in together as there’s only a few quid separating them, with the smaller fortwo starting at £19,200 including the PiCG, and the forfour starting at £19,795. Both cars share a powertrain comprising a 17.6kWh battery and an 82bhp motor. Performance and range are far from breath-taking, with the diminutive cars able to hit 60mph in 12.7 seconds and reach almost 81mph. You’re going to run out of range on the sad side of 100km (62miles).
You might be wondering why you’d bother, but as cars to run around locally or just pop to and from the shops in zero emissions silence, either is a good choice. All you need to do is work out whether you need space for two additional people in the back. Read our review of the forfour here.
Coming in at just over £20k and arguably a significant step up in practicality terms compared to the two Smarts, the new 500 is a great choice for anyone looking for a little bit of style. The Action spec car gets a 23.8kWh battery and a 94bhp motor, meaning a sub-10 second 0-62mph dash and a range of 115 miles in mixed driving. Where the 500 will excel, in urban areas, 150 miles is possible. It can be charged in less than 30 minutes and uses a driver’s connected smartphone for infotainment rather than having a built-in operating system.
Granted, you’re not getting the fripperies and design touches that many people will be after from their EVs, but as a low-cost, practical city car with the capability to undertake longer journeys, the Fiat 500 is a great option. Read about it here.
A familiar car with familiar controls but just with a peppy little electric powertrain, the e-up! is a car that has many appealing qualities. It’s also the only remaining EV still being built on the platform which once also had Skoda and Seat variants. To drive, it shares many of the attributes that make the petrol-powered cars nice things to steer. Don’t be expecting fireworks when you put your foot down, though; with an 81bhp motor, 62mph comes up in 11.9 seconds and the top speed is 81mph. The 36.8kWh battery gives a very useful range of 159 miles and takes an hour to charge.
The main selling points of the e-up! at this price are that it’ll seat four adults in relative comfort and comes with a decent array of standard kit. Yes, the infotainment is fairly awful and the people in the back won’t want to be there for too long, but it’s a comparatively grown up EV at this price point. Read our review here.
If you want practicality, now we’re talking! Chinese-owned MG are the brand to go to if you want an EV capable of full-on family duties for not too much money. It’s the only fully electric estate on sale in the UK and as such has a large, versatile interior (albeit a forgettable one) and space for five. The 52.5kWh battery offers 214 miles in mixed driving – with over 180 miles eminently possible in the real world – and a 154bhp, 192lb-ft motor which makes for reasonable progress.
There’s an awful lot to like about the MG 5 if you can get over the bland styling and forgettable driving experience. Certainly, for the money you’re not going to do much better if practicality and usability, with a smattering of creature comforts, are your priorities. Read our review here.
At the time of writing, you can pick up a Nissan LEAF Acenta with a 40kWh battery for less than £26k. This no-frills entry-level car offers up to 168 miles of range, which is fairly competitive at this price point and what’s more, it’s a realistic real-world figure. The 147bhp, 214lb-ft motor also makes it a fairly brisk car, capable of hitting 62 in 7.9 seconds.
Even in this spec, the LEAF gets a good selection of driver assistance aids, such as lane departure warning, emergency braking with pedestrian recognition and intelligent cruise control. An eight inch touchscreen display integrates with Apple and Android operating systems and even acts as a screen for a rear-view camera. Read our review of the 40kWh LEAF.
It doesn’t have the best range or the most space in this list, but the MINI Electric is a properly fun, quick and funky little EV. For this money, you’re going to be getting the bottom-of-the-rung Level 1 car but this still means smartphone connectivity, an 8.8 inch display with navigation, digital cockpit, cruise control and dual zone AC. Best of all, you also get the 184bhp, 199lb-ft motor which makes the Mini a proper little hot hatch, capable of 0-62 in 7.2 seconds.
Thanks to a 35kWh battery, range is 145 miles on the official cycle, though if you drive it like it makes you want to drive it, 100 is closer to the truth. It’ll carry four people just like any other MINI, and it’s nicely built as well. Certainly, you can see where the extra money goes in this car and whilst £26k is a lot of money, the MINI Electric is a great little EV. Read our review.
There was a time that you could buy a new MG ZS EV for less than £22,000 thanks to some generous introductory offers, but even at a snip over £26k it’s a solid low-cost family EV. It has slightly less power (143hp) and a slightly smaller battery (44.5kWh) than the MG5 but with an official range of 163 miles, loads of practicality and that all-important SUV body shape, it’s arguably the more desirable car.
We found some niggly and disappointing things when we tested the car over an extended period but we’d urge you not to be put off. The fact of the matter is this; the ZS EV encapsulates what consumers are demanding from EVs in terms of styling and everyday practicality, and it does it for much less money than rivals. Read our in-depth review here.
Vauxhall’s first EV has turned out to be a decent start for the brand delivering what we called ‘an electric car without the flashiness’. It has decent range, with an official 209 miles, good levels of technology as well as familiarity and ease of use that makes it a great car for first-time EV buyers. It’s a Corsa, after all. The 134bhp motor and 50kWh battery combo is tried and tested, if unremarkable, but still gives the Corsa a half-decent turn of speed in Sport mode. Switch it back into Eco mode to achieve that range.
Charging is simple and at the highest 100kW DC rate, takes just 30 minutes. Even on the base-spec car there’s a good level of kit including mobile connectivity and a 7 inch touchscreen interface. You can read our review here.
If you like everything the Corsa-e has to offer but don’t want a Corsa, the Peugeot e-208 is the car for you. It uses the same platform, so gets the same battery and powertrain, but the styling is (to our eye) slightly sharper both inside and out. We also found the Peugeot to be more dynamic through the corners thanks to a sharper steering setup.
You’ll be happy sitting in the driver’s seat (if you’re not over 6ft) or as a passenger, too. The materials are a cut above those in the Corsa-e and we liked the overall fit and finish of the Peugeot. It gets broadly the same infotainment system, which is fiddly but usable. Get the full details of the Peugeot e-208 via our review.
Like the Nissan LEAF, the Renault ZOE has been around for a while now, but that doesn’t make it any less of an EV. In fact, with a 245 mile range, delivered thanks to a 52kW battery and highly efficient powertrain, it comfortably trumps all of the other cars in this list. At this price point you’re going to be limited to the 107bhp R110 version, but with 166lb-ft of torque it’s still plenty for most driving, only ever showing a lack of puff on the motorway.
Even in base ‘Play’ spec, the ZOE gets a 10 inch driver’s display, a 7 inch infotainment screen and proper buttons, meaning things like warming or cooling the cabin don’t require jabbing at a laggy touchscreen! You also get cruise control and emergency brake assist. Yes, you do still get wind down rear windows, but does that really matter when you sail past the rest of the cars on this list with your additional range? Find out all about the Renault ZOE here.