Volkswagen ID.3 charging
Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is a Digital Copywriter in the Carparison marketing team, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.

Read time of 7 minutes.

Ten of the best small electric cars available to lease today

If you're looking for a new EV, but don't need a honking great SUV to cart the kids, the dog, and the new Ikea bookcase down the motorway, these are the cars for you.

While big cars with mammoth ranges have their place, sometimes city living calls for a small, nippy vehicle that can hop in and out of traffic and tuck into tight spaces without you wanting to rip your hair out.

Luckily, the small electric car market has exploded over the past few years, and your choices aren't confined to just the Renault Zoe or the Smart Fortwo. Though they both have their strengths, they don't suit everyone.

But we're confident there is a small EV out there to suit you.

We've done the hard work, and handpicked ten of our favourites. There's a mix of styles, from the practical VW ID.3 to the funky Honda e to the luxe BMW i3, and everything in between. All you need to do is pick which one is right for you.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

One of Europe's best-selling electric cars for a reason, the Nissan Leaf is the EV for you if you're after a practical and efficient hatchback. 

With a generous 168-mile range, enough space for a growing family, and a boot that'll accommodate the weekly shop, the Leaf makes a fantastic, and affordable, option for an electric urban car. Though you'll struggle to drive Lands' End to John O'Groats without numerous stops, everyday life will be a doddle.

Its small stature is perfect for zooming around town and nipping into tiny parking spots, while its ability to charge to 80% in an hour on a rapid public charger means it'll be ready to go by the time you've finished shopping. Nissan's ProPilot system is a good add-on for city driving too; it gives you adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and traffic jam assist, which can control the car at low speeds in slow-moving traffic.

And if the regular Leaf hasn't got quite enough power for you, opt for the Nissan Leaf e+, with a 62kWh battery that gives you a WLTP range of 239 miles and 214bhp.

Whatever your needs, for low cost, zero-emissions driving with no twiddly bits, the Nissan Leaf is the EV for you.

Best for: no-frills driving

Volkswagen ID.3

Volkswagen ID.3

The first of VW's new ID-badged fully electric cars, the Volkswagen ID.3 represents the future for the German giant.

With the VW Golf dominating the ICE hatchback category, Volkswagen had to get the basics right with the ID.3. And it succeeded. Spacious interior, good-looking exterior, and competitive pricing, all topped off with a usable range. 

If you're generally a Golf, Toyota Corolla, or Ford Focus fan, you'll find it easy as pie to switch into the ID.3.

There are three battery sizes on offer; the mid-spec 58kWh fitted to the Life, Business, Family, Tech, and Max trims which gives 260 miles of range; the entry-level City and Style trims with a 54kWh battery and just over 200 miles of range; and the flagship Tour trim with a mammoth 77kWh battery and claimed range of 336 miles. 

With such an extensive offering, there's sure to be a Volkswagen ID.3  that ticks every box, whether you want an economical urban run-around, or you're more worried about range. 

It's a comfortable car too, with plenty of space for a growing family and a comfortable cabin that'll house all the bits you bring into the car and then never empty out. 

If you want an EV that's good value for money, the VW ID.3 is the car for you.

Best for: if you're unsure about switching from ICE to EV

Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208

This isn't a bespoke EV designed to stick out from the crowd - it's just a 208 with a big battery.

We say just - it is more than that. Though there aren't any real visual differences to distinguish the Peugeot e-208 from its ICE sibling, it's an impressive car nevertheless. Comfortable, quieter than its main rivals, and spacious, it's an excellent choice if you don't want an obviously electric, electric car.

Going electric doesn't impact on the practicality either - every 208, whether fuelled by dinosaurs or the future, has the same boot capacity. 

It's also got an impressive range of up to 217 miles on a full charge, and can hustle from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds. Though you might want something with a little more range to play with if you're often going miles up the motorway, it's the perfect choice if you're mostly city-based, but enjoy getting away on weekend breaks.

The e-208 was a bold move for the French manufacturer. As its first mass-produced EV, it had some catching up to do against established rivals.

But the Peugeot e-208 is managing to hold its own, and carve out a little French niche in a class that's crammed full of German and Japanese heavyweights. 

Best for: blending in with the crowd

MINI Electric

MINI Electric

Fun, funky, and fresh, the MINI Electric is once again changing the way people think about small cars.

Bringing every inch of its '60s retro flair with some electric-focused upgrades (including three-pin plug style wheels and fluorescent accents), the MINI Electric is the perfect blend of old and new.

Its size and shape are the same as the ICE three-door hatchback, but the 32kWh battery and electric motor give it a claimed range of 145 miles between charges.

While this isn't the best range in the class, MINI has done its research. It discovered that most MINI owners drive an average of 26 miles a day, or 180 miles a week. The MINI is designed to slot into the profile, with a couple of top-ups here and there, and the smaller battery keeps the price down and means the car isn't quite as hefty.

And with the MINI Electric charging to full using an at-home wall box in just five hours, it'll be ready and raring to go every morning.

It's a strong addition to the desirable line-up, and for fans of the combustion engine MINI, the electric version will slot right into their lives. The cabin space remains the same, with a boot big enough for the weekly shop or a weekend getaway, and the touchscreen infotainment system remains as good as ever.

For city living, the MINI is an excellent choice.

Best for: iconic British design in an electric package

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Vauxhall Corsa-e 

If you're a Vauxhall Corsa fan, but you want a car that's kinder on your wallet and on the environment, this is the car for you.

By its very nature, the Vauxhall Corsa-e is less flashy than some of its rivals, but it's not designed to be a quirky EV. It's designed to make the switch to electric easier, and it does the job very well.

It's affordable, the real-world range is more than usable, and the cabin is comfortable and spacious.

Vauxhall claims that the Corsa-e has a 209-mile range, which is more than enough if you use your car mainly for the work commute and the school run. It's better than many of its rivals, though it falls short of the ID.3. But with the ability to recoup 80% of the battery in just under an hour with a 50kWh rapid charger, the Corsa-e will be ready to go again in the time you've had a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

The entry-level trim is ideal for day-to-day life; it's got a 267L boot, an adjustable driver's seat, and a touchscreen infotainment system with wired smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android. It's an excellent option for your next lease car if you're looking to make the switch.

Best for: everyday city driving

Honda e

Honda e

Retro meets futuristic - the Honda e is one of the quirkiest small EVs on the market.

An underrated pick, Honda have managed to create an impossibly cute and well-engineered EV with bags of personality. Its dimensions are on the smaller side - it's Fiat-500-plus-a-bit small. Though the lack of wing mirrors does mean you'll slip in and out of parking spaces with ease and a deliciously smug feeling.

The Honda e has a claimed range of 137 miles, so this isn't the EV for you if you want to stray too far from civilisation. But the diminutive size and small battery were both conscious decisions on Honda's part; if you just need a car that'll get you to work, school, and Aldi, you don't need anything much bigger.

And, if you're going to flit around town, wouldn't you want to do it in the most adorable car on the market?

Though the exterior of the Honda e is all retro, the inside is where it really shines. Honda describes it as a 'lounge-style interior', and the squishy front seats and bench seat in the back achieve this. There are screens in place of the wing mirrors and rearview mirror, but the real piece de resistance are the two side-by-side 12.3-inch screens as the centrepiece - one for the passenger, and one for the driver.

And when you're parked, you can even turn these screens into an aquarium, complete with digital fish that you can feed digital food. 

There's not much more you could ask for.

Best for: quirky fun in a tiny car

Renault ZOE

Renault Zoe

One of the first small EVs to hit the market back in 2014, the Renault Zoe faces some stiff competition these days, but still manages to hold its own.

The latest iteration of the Zoe looks largely the same as the original, but with more efficient motors and bigger batteries. If you loved the Zoe before, you'll love it even more now. 

The 52kWh battery pack gives the Zoe a claimed range of 245 miles in between charges, while the ability to use a 50kWh rapid charger means you'll be able to get the battery back to 80% charge in no time. The new interior, largely lifted from the ever-popular Clio, is a step up from the old; more comfortable, better-quality materials, and a new infotainment system.

It's plenty spacious enough inside for a small family, too.

The door bins are big enough to hold all the bits that come with family life, and there's a couple of USB ports so you can make sure those all-important devices are always charged. Though you'll struggle to fit anyone over six foot in the back, a car seat or two will fit with ease.

The new Zoe is a solid choice in what is becoming quite a crowded market, retaining the popularity that made it so popular at launch.

Best for: solid and reliable electric driving

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul

It's like the e-Niro, but it's a little more fun.

Based on the same powertrain as the Hyundai Kona and the e-Niro, Kia have taken the basics of what a car should be and amped it up. While the design is a bit like Marmite - you'll either really love it or really hate it - the Kia Soul will turn heads wherever you are.

But Kia hasn't lumped all its eggs in one design basket.

The Soul EV boasts a seriously impressive WLTP range of 280 miles, and it's more efficient than the Nissan Leaf. Kia have done a brilliant job of taking an ICE car and turning it into an electric one, and haven't compromised on the practical elements either.

There's plenty of room for five adults, while the 315L boot is big enough for the weekly shop - though you'll struggle on a big Ikea trip. The cabin is comfortable, and the 10.25-inch infotainment does everything you'd want it to.

And while the design is all frills, the ride is no fuss.

It's perfect around town, and the longer range means you'll be able to travel over 200 miles with only mild panic as you draw close to your destination. But luckily for you, Kia's UVO Connect telematics system lets you know where the closest public chargers are.

Best for: standing out in the crowd

BMW i3

BMW i3

One of the best premium small EVs on the market, the BMW i3 is a perfect choice if you're looking to make the switch, but don't want to lose the luxury experience.

Its 33kWh battery provides around 186 miles of range, with a 0-63mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 93mph. It's a quick little car, with easy handling that means you can nip in and out of traffic with a sense of joy and ease. It's at its best in town, but with a little forward planning, longer motorway journeys will be just as simple.

And with a luxe interior, you won't mind spending a little longer in the i3. 

There's plenty of space for four adults and easy access through the rear suicide doors for those in the back. The mix of materials used feels upmarket, and the technology is both usable and logical. You get what you pay for, and BMW have managed to create a fantastic small EV.

There's also a generous amount of kit included as standard; LED headlights, BMW Professional Multimedia, heated front seats, and BMW ConnectedDrive, which includes emergency call, navigation, online services, teleservices, and real-time traffic information.

And, as ever, there's a whole host of added extras to play with if you've got the cash, including an auxiliary cabin heating system, a Park Assist package, and Driving Assistant Plus.

Best for: that premium feel

Fiat 500 electric

Fiat 500 Electric

The Fiat 500 has been a success story since its 1957 launch, and it's remained a popular choice with young drivers and small families ever since.

The all-electric 500 boots the supermini into the 21st Century and futureproofs it for the brave new electric world. It boasts a claimed range of up to 199 miles dependent on the battery size, and is perfect for everyday city living - small enough to fit in tight spaces, nippy enough to zip in and out of traffic, but practical enough to fit the weekly shop or a suitcase or two. 

It keeps the retro-chic look that has been associated with the Fiat 500 for decades, while refining the design to be smoother and more minimalist, with the flush door handles, hidden indicators, and lack of exhaust the only giveaway that this Fiat is different to the rest.

And if you opt for the drop-top model, you can experience the best of wind-in-your-hair electric driving. 

The electric 500 is slightly bigger than previous ICE versions, and the 10-inch touchscreen features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring so you can stay connected on the go.

The 500 also features three different driving modes: Normal, Range, and Sherpa, so you can customise your drive to suit your needs wherever you are, whether you want to utilise regenerative braking or you need to eke out every last mile. 

Best for: chic city living

The top 10 best small electric vehicles

  1. Nissan Leaf
  2. Volkswagen ID.3
  3. Peugeot e-208
  4. Vauxhall Corsa-e
  5. MINI Electric
  6. Honda e
  7. Renault Zoe
  8. BMW i3
  9. Kia Soul EV
  10. Fiat 500 electric

If these cars aren't quite what you're looking for, we have a whole host of excellent electric lease deals, from the tiny Twizy to the top-favourite Tesla Model 3.