Top 10 cheapest electric cars

Citroen Ami cornering

Cost-effective EVs are rare but growing in number. Here are the 10 cheapest on sale in the UK today

As we accelerate towards the 2030 ban on new ICE vehicles, the focus on EVs becomes sharper than ever.

For the past decade, the main criticism of these battery-powered cars has been their range, with very few offering the sort of stamina that would make them a true replacement for a hard-working petrol or diesel counterpart.

However, as the charging infrastructure has improved and customer expectations have shifted, the big EV talking point is now affordability. There are plenty of electric models to choose from, but the cost of the components and the rapid evolution of technology means that many of these are on the expensive side. 

For instance, Ford has long been a blue-collar hero, thanks to its ability to offer a car that’s good to drive, well equipped and practical (just look at the Fiesta or Focus for proof), but the cheapest version of its only electric offering, the Mustang Mach-E, costs an eye-watering £50,830.

The Blue Oval isn’t the only culprit, though, as many manufacturers have spied an opportunity to target well-heeled early adopters who are happy to pay a premium (and a large slice of profit to the carmaker) to have the latest all-singing, all-dancing digitally dense EV on their drive. Yet if EVs are to become commonplace, there need to be some options that aren’t going to break the bank.

Happily, while these more cost-effective EVs are rare, they’re growing in number – with one brand in particular keen to give customers the electric experience for less. So here’s our rundown on the 10 most affordable EVs currently on sale in the UK.

Cheapest electric cars on sale in the UK

1. Citroën Ami – £7696

We’re cheating here a bit, because the angular Ami is technically a quadricycle rather than a car. Yet it has four wheels, doors, a windscreen, a pair of seats, heating and a steering wheel, so for the purposes of this list, it makes the cut. 

Sure, it’s very basic, and some observers might draw unkind parallels between its styling and a Portaloo, but it’s transport.

A tiny 8bhp motor, a 28mph top speed, a claimed range of just north of 45 miles and a washboard ride mean it’s completely out of its depth on the open road, but the urban jungle is a different matter.

A tight turning circle and dinky dimensions make it a doddle to drive and park, while unlike with a scooter, you will be warm and dry when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

2. Smart EQ Fortwo – £22,225

Yes, the Smart EQ Fortwo is still on sale. The recently launched Geely-engineered Smart #1 has been grabbing all the headlines, but the brand’s tiny two-seater is still available for those who want a small city car with a few more creature comforts than the stripped-out Ami. At £22,225 (£24,645 if you want the fabric-topped cabrio), the Fortwo is the cheapest ‘real car’ EV that you can currently buy.

There’s no denying it still looks fairly funky, while a range of 81 miles and zippy 81bhp motor make it capable of (brief) out-of-town forays, and its 17.2kWh battery can be charged in as little as 40 minutes.

Inside, there’s decent space for two (or four if you go pay £70 more for the five-door Forfour), plus climate control, heated seats, touchscreen infotainment and a reversing camera.

3. MG 4 EV – £26,995

Could the MG 4 EV be the family car bargain of the year? And this isn’t just for an EV but for a five-door family hatchback propelled by any power source.

Not only does the entry-level SE model undercut most of the (smaller) cars in this list, at £26,995 it’s only a few quid more than a basic Focus with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

What’s more, the 4 doesn’t look or feel like a bargain-basement special, with distinctive wedgy styling and a roomy interior that, a few cheap plastics aside, is neatly designed and packed with kit. More importantly, the positive impressions are reinforced on the move, where you will discover deft handling, a decent ride and zippy performance from its 168bhp motor.

The standard 51kWh battery claims 218 miles of range, but you can stretch to the £29,495 Long Range model with 64kWh cells then this figure jumps to 281 miles. 

4. Fiat 500 – £28,195

Like the Mini Electric that finishes a few places further down this list, the Fiat 500 is a design icon that successfully reinvented itself for the EV age. You see, while retro-inspired lines look similar to its ICE cousin, this all-electric Italian machine is pretty much unique from the ground up.

The exterior styling has been successfully updated, while inside the 500 oozes premium appeal – although space is still tight in the rear. Yet it’s the way that it drives that really endears, its nimble handling and the eager acceleration from its 94bhp motor making it a treat around town and surprising fun on faster roads.

At £28,195, it’s not exactly cheap, while its 24kWh battery is only good for 118 miles. Better is the 116bhp version with a 42kWh battery for a claimed 199 miles, but prices for this version start at £31,195.

5. Nissan Leaf – £28,995

The Leaf is the car that kick-started the affordable EV family car movement, but there’s no denying it’s starting to feel a little off the pace.

It’s now in its second generation, but the underlying architecture and technology for this latest car can trace its roots back to the original, which first appeared around 15 years ago. Still, the Leaf is easy to drive and roomy, and with prices starting at £28,995, it costs a similar amount as a traditional ICE alternative.

However, bear in mind that at this price you will get the smaller 39kWh battery, which will deliver only a claimed 168 miles. Moreover, a maximum charging rate of 50kW means you will need an hour to gain 80% battery, and the Chademo plug is out of step with most of the industry, which now uses the EU-standard CCS system.

6. Mini Electric – £29,000

If you don’t plan on going far and fancy some high-voltage hot hatch thrills, the Mini Electric could be just the ticket.

Gaudy yellow detailing aside, it has the same cheeky retro charm as the standard Mini hatchback, while under the skin it has a punchy 181bhp electric motor (that’s the same output as the petrol Cooper S). It also gets a rather small 32.6kWh battery that delivers a promised range of 145 miles, although 100 miles is more accurate in the rear world.

On the plus side, the compact British EV’s trademark high-jinx handling is pretty much unaffected by the transition to battery power, with the combination of sharp steering and a wheel-at-each-corner stance delivering the same quick-witted handling and a surprising throttle (or should that be potentiometer?) adjustability. 

7. Renault Zoe – £29,995

It has been knocked off its spot as Europe’s best-selling EV, but the Zoe still has a lot to offer for those looking to go electric on a budget. With prices starting at £29,995 it’s not the bargain it once was, but various updates have kept it reasonably fresh while the standard 52kWh battery gives it a very useful official range of 239 miles.

Despite its age (it’s getting on for 10 years old), the French car still looks smart inside and out, comes with all the kit you’re ever likely to need and has just enough space for a young family. You sit quite high behind the wheel (because the battery is under the floor) and the low-speed ride is firm, but the handling is accurate and the 135bhp motor delivers decent poke.

Note, however, that you will need £31,195 for the Boost Charge model that supports 50kW CCS rapid-charging. The standard version is restricted to 22kW, which means three hours for a fast charge.

8. MG ZS EV – £30,495

The second MG to make this list follows the 4’s lead of offering plenty of car for the cash. Slotting into the fiercely fought compact crossover sector, the ZS EV certainly looks the part, while its interior makes up for in room and standard equipment what it lacks in rich material quality.

Better still, a recent mid-life nip-and-tuck has resulted in the ZS EV getting a larger 51kWh battery, raising the claimed range to 198 miles. Spend £32,995 for the 71kWh equipped Long Range and the distance between charges increases to 273 miles. Impressively, both versions feature 100kW rapid-charging capability, meaning 80% charge in as little as 36 minutes.

The 128bhp motor (weirdly, the pricier Long Range gets 113bhp) offers smooth and responsive performance, but the chassis suffers from indifferent handling and a lumpen ride. 

9. MG 5 SW EV – £30,995

You don’t necessarily expect much glamour in a rundown of affordable cars, and in fairness, the MG 5 SW EV doesn’t do anything to change that view.

A recent facelift has sharpened the electric estate’s looks, but it’s still a bland-looking device that looks surprisingly dated for something less than five years old. Where the 5 scores is in the space its boxy body provides (a 578-litre boot, which increases to 1367-litres with the rear seats folded flat) and handy WLTP ratified range of 250 miles courtesy of 61kWh battery.

The 5 is capable of rapid-charging at up to 150kW, while vehicle-to-load capability allows you to power electric devices such as scooters and laptop computers using the car’s lithium ion drive battery.

Don’t expect a thrill-a-minute driving experience, but the 5 is smooth, brisk, roomy and, like all MGs, backed by a seven-year warranty. 

10. Mazda MX-30 – £31,250

Mazda has gained a reputation for doing things a little differently, and the MX-30 is no exception. While many brands boast about an ever-increasing range for their models, the Japanese firm has made a point of its first-ever EV’s surprisingly short claimed range of just 124 miles.

Bosses claim this figure is more than enough for most day-to-day needs, while the car’s smaller 35.5kWh means a lower kerb weight for greater efficiency and enhanced driving dynamics.

That said, at more than 1600kg, the MX-30 is no lightweight (the Peugeot e-2008 is less portly), but it’s certainly good to drive, with balanced handling, light and accurate steering and a composed ride.

Other highlights include the quirky styling that includes rear-hinged rear doors and an interior that delivers plenty of premium appeal, even if it’s not as spacious or roomy as those of rivals.

Source: Autocar

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