Small Electric Vehicles
The small electric cars that pack a big punch
Small electric cars make a lot of sense. Being more compact, they’re ideal for city and town driving, but their zero-emissions nature means that they’re also great for navigating around congestion charges and CO2-based regulations.
The latest small electric cars really pack a punch when it comes to range, too, bringing a respectable amount of miles between trips to the charger.
Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the best that Sytner has to offer at the moment.
The ID.3 is the car that has kicked off a whole new electric revolution for Volkswagen. In fact, the German firm puts it alongside both the Golf and the Beetle in terms of overall importance, which just goes to show how much it believes that the ID.3 marks a new era.
As you might expect, it has arrived with a range of innovations, including a cabin which has been stripped of many of the physical controls that you might already know in favour of one centralised, ultra-high-tech screen.
It’s here that you’ll navigate your media controls, programme a destination or even adjust the in-car heating. Much like the Golf, the ID.3 also comes with plenty of space in the back for passengers and even a well-sized boot that is large enough for big shops or weekends away.
But as well as a high-tech interior, the ID.3 is backed up by some seriously clever battery tech. In fact, even mid-range ID.3 models can deliver up to 273 miles from a single charge, with big-battery versions able to go above and beyond the 300-mile mark.
Thanks to rapid charging capability, you can charge the 58kWh ID.3 model from 10 to 80 per cent in as little as 35 minutes, too, meaning that you won’t need to be waiting at the plug for long at all.
BMW was way ahead of the game when it released the i3 around nine years ago. The rest of the premium car market – think Mercedes and Audi – had yet to really enter the EV game, yet BMW had already created a fully-fledged and very premium-feeling battery-powered model.
It was created with a wide range of lightweight materials, too – you can even see bare carbon fibre when you open up the doors. Speaking of the doors, the back ones are rear-hinged which makes both entering and exiting the cabin a whole lot easier. When it comes to rear-seat space the i3 does remarkably well for such a compact car, with plenty of headroom coming courtesy of the i3’s high roofline and boxy proportions.
Earlier i3 versions are available with a clever ‘range extender’, too. This uses a compact petrol motor to extend the range of the electric motor and battery. However, standard full-electric versions can still offer up to 172 miles of range, which is more than enough for shorter commutes or nipping around town.
For those after a slightly more dynamic drive, then there’s the i3S, which incorporates lowered sports suspension for sharper cornering, as well as a revised stability control system which can help to make those B-road journeys even more exciting.
The Mini hatch feels like a perfect fit for electrification. After all, it’s compact and great for the town and city, but it’s got that all-important retro-infused style that helps it to stand out from the crowd.
Building on the success of the regular petrol hatchback, the Mini Electric follows a similar theme but adds in an all-electric range of up to 145 miles and a healthy amount of zippy acceleration that helps to make it just as fun to drive as its petrol-powered counterparts.
With neat handling and boatloads of grip, the Mini Electric still has that same ‘go kart feel’ that people have come to expect from the brand. In terms of acceleration, the Mini Electric will manage the 0-60mph sprint in just over seven seconds, which is around the same as a petrol-powered Cooper S, too. Plus, when you need to top-up, a 10 to 80 per cent charge can be conducted in just over 30 minutes.
Inside, the Mini Electric has all of the latest fixtures and fittings, from a large central display to a driver’s readout with all of the key information that you could need. That 8.8-inch display in the middle incorporates all of the features you might expect, from smartphone connectivity to satellite navigation and radio.
smart EQ Fortwo
The famous ‘Smart car’ has become an icon of the small-car scene. Beloved by city dwellers who appreciate its almost micro proportions, light steering and super-efficient engine setup, the Smart Fortwo feels like a car ripe for electrification. That’s just what Smart has done with its new EQ Fortwo.
Available as both a regular hard-top and a cabriolet, the EQ Fortwo retains the original Smart’s pint-sized proportions which help to make it a great option for those who value ease of use above all else. It can still be parked nose-in into many British parking spaces, just as its original predecessor could.
Of course, there’s only space for two people, but both occupants get a surprising amount of headroom thanks to the Smart’s shape. There’s also a practical boot which is large enough for a few soft bags or some shopping. You also get a handy central screen with mapping and smartphone connectivity options, alongside a smaller driver’s display which relays key information such as range and speed back to whoever’s behind the wheel.
The Smart’s 81-mile range means that it’s got more than enough in the ‘tank’ for city-wide jaunts, or even shorter commutes where you have charging facilities at either end. When it comes to topping up the batteries, a 10 to 80 per cent charge can be finished in 40 minutes. A full charge can easily be finished overnight via a conventional home wallbox, too.