With the current fuel crisis in the UK, the importance of electric cars has once again been highlighted. Not only do they not require petrol or diesel but they’re far cheaper to run, have lower maintenance costs and are easy and fun to drive. Plus, you don’t have to pay road tax or congestion and emissions charges found in some cities. Most importantly there’s no exhaust pipe so they’re zero emissions which is kinder to the planet and are helping to secure a better future for the next generation. Here we bring you ElectricDrives best electric cars under £30,000.
Smart EQ ForFour £19,795
The instant pull of Smart’s five door EQ ForFour is its sub £20,000 price point, but it is at the smaller end in terms of size of what’s available in the electric car world. The latest version was updated in 2020 but the downfall of this rear-wheel-drive car is that doesn’t have the range of some of its competitors offering just 81 miles (130km).
The EQ ForFour comes with a 17.6kWh battery that produces a top speed of 81mph (130kph) and accelerates from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in 12.7 seconds. Fast charging will see it hit 80 percent in around 40 minutes.
The EQ ForFour often divides people when it comes to aesthetics but the styling is sporty both inside and out. It’s fun and easy to drive but not as smooth handling over rougher terrain as some of its competitors. It fits four adults and has ample headroom for all but those over six feet tall.
The rear doors are small and awkward to get in and of, but this is often the way with mini-sized electric cars. The flipside to this is that it’s easy to park and will get into spaces most others won’t fit into. It is a good little electric car that’s ideal for town use and an affordable way to drive emissions-free.
Fiat New 500 from £20,495
It’s hard not to fall in love with the looks of Fiat’s New 500 that takes its styling from the Italian carmakers original from 1957. Fast forward to now and this modern classic has the same ethos of offering a small, cheap to run and good value car. It is a four-seater, although legroom is limited for adults in the back but kids should be fine. Costing just over £20,000 makes this an extremely affordable electric car.
The entry-level level model features a 70kW motor driven by a 23.8kWh capacity battery. This delivers a limited top speed of 84mph (135kph) and will accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in 9.5 seconds.
The range is up to 199 miles on the combined range but with Fiat’s power-saving mode this can boast range up to 248 miles in the urban cycle. With the average commute under 30 miles per day, most drivers of the New 500 won’t have an issue.
The drive is fun and easy here, and being a small car makes it easy to manoeuvre and parking is a cinch. You sit relatively high up which puts you in a good position to view the road ahead and your surroundings. The modern feeling cockpit and dials are well-positioned and make for easy day-to-day use.
Volkswagen e-up! £21,055
The Volkswagen e-up! is a small family car with a neat minimalist design. It now features a 36.8kWh battery. This update over the previous incarnation means that it now offers up to 159 miles (256km) of range, which should help with any range anxiety for those driving this little town car.
Charging at home using an AC 2.3kW charger takes around 16 hours but when using a DC 40KW fast charger the e-up! can charge up to 80 percent in under two hours. While it’s not the fastest electric car on the road, it does accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 75mph (121mph)
We don’t imagine that most drivers of this car would worry too much about this acceleration or top speed. Besides, being electric it does have good torque which is ideal for city centre style driving and nipping through the traffic.
Driving the e-up! is a pleasure and it feels safe and solid from the off. It offers plenty of visibility thanks to its boxy design which also helps with safety on the road. It’s well built, as you’d expect from Volkswagen and is an affordable way of driving electric, especially if you don’t do lots of long journeys.
Nissan LEAF from £25,995
The Leaf has been a forerunner in the electric car space having been produced for the last decade. It pre-dates the Tesla Model S by two years and at nearly £50,000 cheaper it’s no wonder it has become a much loved small family electric car that this car has sold 500,000 units.
The latest version offers a good balance of performance and driveability with a range of up to 168 miles (270km) from its 40kWh battery. It’s not the biggest range by any means when price is considered, but it’s ideal for general around-town use and short commuting tasks. With a 50kW rapid charger it can be charged to 80 percent of its capacity in around an hour.
Nissan’s e-Pedal system is a neat feature that allows for one pedal driving which makes life easier, especially in traffic. This combined with the light road feel and ease of driving makes it a forgiving car to live with. It’s not a complete slug either when it comes to acceleration delivering 0-62mph (0-100kph) in 7.9 seconds.
The styling of this hatchback is sporty both inside and out and it carries out most family duties with ease. The Leaf has developed with the times and has become the car that many of its competitors have tried to emulate.
Mini Electric from £26,000
The revival of the Mini has been one of BMW’s big success stories in the small car market, and the coming of an electric version makes it even better when it comes to green credentials. The size and styling of the electric version are similar to the combustion engine versions which will keep Mini enthusiasts happy. The Mini Electric has even become the safety car for Formula E this season.
This British built car offers a range of up to 145 miles (233km) from a full charge making it ideal for town used and shorter length commuting. It can be charged to 80 percent in just 36 minutes from a 50kW quick charger. The 32.6kWh battery offers 181-horsepower taking it from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in a speedy 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 94mph (151kph).
Inside and out it feels like a Mini which is a good thing. It easily seats four adults and like the non-electric Mini boot space is relatively small. This is just 211 litres but there’s enough room for day-to-day items, and the seats do fold down offering ample space when there’s a need to transport larger items.
The cockpit area of the electric Mini feels sporty in a modern way but with a sprinkling of nostalgia. All of this combined will be enough to keep lovers of the Mini design happy. It’s a solid player when it comes to style, performance and handling, and kindness to the planet.
MG ZS EV from £26,095
The big attraction of MG’s ZS EV is that it’s one of the cheapest electric sports utility vehicles (SUV) on the market. It’s bigger than most of the other cars here so will appeal to those who prefer a larger family car. This award winner has been a big seller for the British car company along with its MG5 EV electric estate car.
It has a modern stylish exterior and is powered by a 44.5kWh battery that offers a 163-mile (262km) range. As a bigger electric car, the MG ZS EV offers a solid acceleration reaching 0-62mph (0-100kph) in an impressive 8.5 seconds. The top speed is 87mph (140kph) but for most law-abiding-citizens, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The inside of the ZE EV feels spacious like you’d expect from an SUV, and there’s plenty of room with its vast 448-litre boot area. The cockpit feels modern and is easy to navigate, and the overall drive is fine.
The award-winning ZE EV offers outstanding value for money for a family-sized SUV and it works brilliantly for day-to-day duties. It’s hard not to think a car of this size would be used for longer journeys where range could become more of an issue.
Volkswagen ID.3 Life from £27,135
After its launch in 2020, the ID.3 soon became a much-loved and award-winning family car. With Volkswagen launching its more affordable ID.3 City it means the German carmaker now has a model that comes in at under £30,000.
As the cheapest ID.3 in the range, the Life model doesn’t feel basic or compromised. It has plenty of room and looks bigger than pictures would have you believe. Inside, it feels light and airy, and there’s plenty of space for four adults. It offers a 1,267-litre seating area, and there’s ample space in the 385-litre boot space. The large front windscreen offers great vision and it’s easy to drive.
The ID.3 is driven by a 45 kWh battery that delivers 150PS (148 horsepower) to offer a range of up to 217 miles (349km). It can accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in around 8.9 seconds, with a top speed of 99mph (160kph). Using a fast charger the battery can be charged to 137 miles (220km) in around half an hour and using a 7.2kW wallbox charger it takes around seven and half hours.
Overall, the ID.3 is a well-balanced family car with all the gadgets that drives well. It’s fun and easy to manoeuvre, yet small enough to be practical in town situations and is simple to park. Plus, it has good looks to boot. We know from sales since its launch last summer that this car is already a hit with VW fans everywhere.
Peugeot e208 from £27,225
It’s hard not to like the Peugeot e-208 with its subtle sporty looks that are not as deliberately stand-out-electric as some cars here. It’s simply a Peugeot 208 with a battery. This small hatchback is still big enough for a family of four.
It’s powered by a 50kWh battery that pushes the 100kW (136 horsepower) motor. In turn, it offers up to 217 miles (349km) of range so should help any potential customers with range anxiety. It can accept 100kWh DC charging that allows up to 80 percent of a full charge in just 30 minutes. It’s a solid mover too hitting 0-62mph (0-100kph) in around eight seconds.
It’s hard not to be impressed when you climb inside the e-208 where the good looks and smart styling flow naturally from the exterior. In the driver’s area, all the instruments are viewed clearly above the steering wheel making life easy on the road. Legroom in the back is more than adequate and there are 265 litres of boot space.
Overall, the e-208 is a cool character with its sleek external styling and neat driver-friendly interior. Add to this the fact it’s fun to drive, and this neat little hatchback will attract those who like to enjoy their time on the road. It offers a good balance of range, drivability and flair.
Renault Zoe from £27,595
The big pull with the Renault Zoe is the range it offers. This smart-looking compact delivers up to 245 miles (395km) of range from its 52kWh 400-V lithium-ion battery. An 80 percent charge can be achieved in around 70 minutes when using a 50kW charger. It’s also good to see Renault back up their batteries with an eight-year or 100,000-mile (160,934km) warranty if they fall below 66 percent of their original capacity.
The base model R100 Zoe provides 106bhp with a top speed of 84mph (135kph) and delivers it from 0-62mph (0-100kph) in 11.4 seconds. This isn’t particularly quick but it is a family car so this won’t be a game-changer for most potential customers.
On top of the substantial range, the award-winning Zoe more than justifies its price tag when it comes to the drive, handling and overall feel. Plus, it’s offers far more room than many of the sub £30,000 cars here, so you do get what you pay for in this instance.
It’s more than comfortable for four adults, has a generous 338-litre boot space and the rear split seats can be dropped if bulky items need to be transported. The Zoe has evolved over the years and the latest incarnation offers a superb balance of real-life practicality and price.
Hyundai Kona Electric from £27,950
Hyundai’s Kona Electric has become a popular model among zero-emissions drivers because this electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) crossover-style car is a great all-rounder. It comes with a few updates for 2021 and offers ample space for a family car, good performance and isn’t bad looking, especially priced considered.
Hyundai offers two modes of the Kona Electric under the £30,000 mark. Both the SE Connect and Premium use the same 39kWh batteries to power them. This drives the 136PS (134-horsepower) motor that has a range of up to 189 miles (304km) and can accelerate from 0-62mph (0-110kph) in just under 10 seconds. It has a top speed of 96mph (155kph) so this will never be an issue for most people.
Inside, the Kona Electric feels roomy with ample space in the front and back seats. The driver’s area feels modern and is user-friendly with everything at your fingertips. It’s also a comfortable car to take on long drives, unlike some smaller cars. Plus, there are 332 litres of boot space, which can be pushed up to 1,114 litres of storage with the seats folded flat.
The Kona Electric offers great value for money and punches above its price tag. Performance is good all-round and that is why it has become a fundamental player in the UK’s fast-growing electric car market.
Honda e from £29,165
The Honda e is the Japanese carmaker’s first completely electric car aimed at city use. It’s hard not to be swayed by the looks of this neat-looking small car that became the World Urban Car of the Year at the World Car Awards beating its combustion engine rivals. What might be a harder sell for such a compact car that costs over £25,000 is the 137-mile (220km) range from its 35.5kWh battery.
For most, using the Honda e around town the range will be more than adequate for a week of driving before it needs to be charged again. A rapid charge using a 50kW charger will get this Honda to 80 percent in just 31 minutes.
What makes the Honda e stand out besides its external styling is the ride. It’s fun to drive and will accelerate from 0-62mph (0-110kph) in just 8.3 seconds making it a snappy little mover. It’s also hard not to be impressed once inside with its nice and airy environment, and the spaceship style dashboard with all its cameras and electronica that make daily driving easier.
There’s room for four but as with some compacts rear legroom is minimal. The boot space is just 171 litres but this works for most daily chores. Regardless of this, the Honda e remains a classy looking town car, both inside and out. It’s fun to drive and a car you’ll be happy to be seen in if you’re less worried about range.