Admittedly, a small platform means less space for batteries and so the range of the following cars will never match the potential of larger alternatives. But a small battery also means a lower asking price, and if we’re talking about urban runabouts that do only the occasional longer journey, it’s arguable just how many owners would need more than, say, 180 miles of driving range. Read on the list of the best small cars for 2021 to get the necessary information.
The Volkswagen Polo isn’t just a great small car – it’s a great car, period. There’s a real sense of quality running through the Polo’s interior and it has space for four adults and a big boot for a small car. The Polo’s an easy car to drive but it’s just not that fun. Still, it comes with a range of great engines to choose from.
If the i3 can’t quite claim to have brought the concept of EV ownership to the mass market (step forward the Nissan Leaf, introduced in 2010), then it can at least claim to have shown that such cars could be interesting and genuinely characterful.
Since 2013, BMW’s motor-show-esque city car has gained in range, power and interior technology, even if along the way the plug-in range-extender that offered owners a safety net has been ditched, so now the model is pure-electric only. Official range is 188 miles, although admittedly this is adequate rather than outstanding in 2021, and the 50kW charging potential is no more than you’d expect given the i3’s high asking price.
What we love about the i3 is, spongy body control aside, its sense of refinement, easy-going drivability, nicely weighted controls and interior ambience. With that carbonfibre-reinforced plastic architecture and standout design, it also somehow manages to still feel avant-garde, and exciting.
Mazda has never been afraid to do things its own way, even when the rest of the industry appears to be doing something different.
The MX-30 is therefore not quite what you’d expect, but it’s an appealing proposition all the same. Toy-car looks are wrapped around an unusually small battery pack – just 35.5kWh, giving an official range of 124 miles – because Mazda believes owners simply won’t need any more, and increasing the size of the battery would mean unnecessary cost. It’s why the MX-30 costs less than £30,000 after the government grant, and yet it’s reasonably spacious within, has an SUV-lite body that is very much on trend, and is trimmed in interesting materials thatn give the cabin a singularly cosy and likeable atmosphere.
Dynamically, the MX-30 also stands out. With 143bhp and 199lb ft, it’s never going to blow your socks off in a straight line, but the weighting of the steering and the supple manner in which the suspension transfers weight while cornering are genuinely reminiscent of the MX-5 sports car. Truly, the MX-30 is one of the most satisfying EVs to drive around in non-committal fashion, despite being solely front driven.
Charging at up to 50kW is possible, and if the limited range works for you, there is plenty to like about the unusual Mazda MX-30. It could be an effective second car.
Vauxhall’s sibling to the Peugeot e-208 doesn’t quite have the style or claimed WLTP range of its French relation, doesn’t have the imaginatively configured interior and isn’t priced quite as keenly. They’re fine margins by which to relegate the car so many places in this top 10 chart, but that’s simply how competitive this varied class is becoming. But don’t let that fool you into believing this Vauxhall isn’t worth a test drive, at least. It might be a little plainer than the Peugeot but it still looks handsome enough. The car’s driving experience combines genuine 180-mile everyday battery range with keen and competent handling and a comfortable ride, while 100kW DC rapid charging compatibility as standard should also be a selling point.
Vauxhall’s large UK dealer network will likely make this car one of the UK’s better-selling EVs, ready to convert people who haven’t considered electric motoring thus far. It’s certainly good enough to leave the right kind of impression.
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