Cheapest electric cars 2021: affordable EVs

Published: 21 July 2021

► The cheapest EVs on sale in 2021
► Low running costs and easy recharging
► We'll constantly update this list

Electric cars have a reputation for being more expensive than their traditional ICE-powered counterparts, but improvements in technology mean the gap is closing every day. What's more, maturing tech has other benefits; modern EVs will now go further between charges than ever before. Put the two together, and there's now a selection of affordable electric cars that provide all the benefits of an EV, and enough range to keep life simple. 

The UK goverment has confirmed a 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, but you don't have to wait until then – there's still plenty of reasons to switch to an electric car in 2021. You'll be joining a growing crowd; last year, nearly 6% of all new-car purchases were fully electric vehicles, compared with 1.5% market share in 2019.

The cheapest EVs to buy in 2021

So what’s the cheapest ticket to the world of battery electric vehicles? Above you’ll find the cheapest electric cars on sale in 2021. They're not all there – the Renault Twizy, for example, scores high on fun but low on being an actual car… But a list doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? Keep reading for a detailed breakdown on what we judge the cheapest really viable EVs on sale today.

What's an electric car like to live with every day?

Volkswagen ID.3 (Life)

  • From £27,120 (after grant)
  • Range: 217 miles

The Volkswagen ID.3 is one of the most important cars ever for Wolfsburg, and is to all intents and purposes, the successor to the Beetle and Golf. In Life trim – the most basic Volkswagen has to offer – this ID.3 doesn't have the impressive range of power of the more expensive models, but it does contain all the same ingredients. Even in basic trim, you get a touchscreen with a 10-inch display as well as Comfort pack. 

Volkswagen ID.3 review


  • £25,095
  • Range: 214 miles

You’re looking at the nichest of niche answers to a future pub question here; the MG5 EV is the first fully electric estate to be offered for sale in the UK. Okay, it’s not the roomiest of wagons – a 464-litre boot isn’t class-leading – nor does it feel desirable, because it makes a virtue of being value-focused. But it does most things you’d ask of it well, while also being cost-effective.

Plumping for the range-topping Exclusive over the entry-level Excite nets you extra niceties on the equipment roster, plus plastileather upholstery, but each has the assurance of a seven-year warranty.

Smart EQ Fortwo EV

  • £20,350-£24,425
  • Range: 70 miles

The original two-seater city car returns, now with electric-only power. The Smart Fortwo features all the usual safety equipment you’d expect in 2021. And although it’s small, the mini EV still gives you a lot of style and car for the money. The only catch? The Fortwo is very much an urban creature: a 70-mile range means you won’t want to stray out of town. 

Read our Smart Fortwo review
View all Smart EQ Fortwo lease offers


Smart EQ Forfour

  • £20,785-£25,565
  • Range: 70 miles

Nope you haven’t seen this one yet – that was the Fortwo. As you can probably tell from the name, the Smart EQ Forfour is Merc’s electric mover for four people. Although the seating is doubled, it’s not diluted: the Forfour retains much of the charm of its even smaller sibling, and the same cheeky styling. Range still tops out at 70 miles, though; not impressive when you compare it to the 160 miles of the Skoda Citigo-e.

View all Smart Forfour lease offers

Seat Mii Electric

  • £22,800
  • Range: 160 miles

VW Group has basically made the same car a few times, with slightly different looks. Bad on the variety front, but good on the ‘EV market having cheap cars’ front – which is the one you care about if you’re reading this. Like its sister cars, which also include the VW e-Up, the Mii Electric is pleasant enough to drive, has a good range, and is an excellent introduction to EV ownership. Just remember it's living on borrowed time and will be discontinued shortly.

Read our Seat Mii Electric review
View all Seat Mii lease offers

Mini Electric

  • £27,900-£33,900
  • Range: 140 miles

Here’s a more familiar name for you. The city-centric Mini moves with the times by finally getting an EV powertrain. Although the Mini name adds a price premium over some of the cars on this list, it’s simply a bit cooler – isn’t it? BMW has managed to keep the best bits of the EV Mini’s ICE counterparts, but has packed it with the best battery-saving tech.

Read our Mini Cooper SE review
View all Mini Electric lease offers


  • £28,495-£30,495
  • Range: 160 miles

Yes MG does exist, and it’s actually making one of the best low-cost EVs you can buy right now. The ZS is proving to be one of the UK’s best family-sized electric SUVs, and that’s because it does so much, so well. It’s a Nissan Qashqai-sized thing, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and it doesn't cost much more than its petrol-powered rivals.  

If you go for the top-spec Exclusive model, it loads you up with even more safety tech. And at just £2000 more than the vanilla ZS EV version, it still won’t break the bank.

Read our MG ZS EV review
View all MG ZS lease offers

Peugeot e-208

  • £28,550-£32,750
  • Range: 210 miles

Peugeot’s e-208 continues to impress, because it’s very much an EV version of the already impressive 208. It’s not rocket science. The French electric supermini has great handling coupled with a fine Continental interior, and finishes the job with a range of 211 miles – one of the higher numbers on this list. 

This could be a lot of people’s first EV – and first car, too. 

Read our Peugeot e-208 review
View all Peugeot e-208 lease offers

Renault Zoe

  • £29,179-£32,870
  • Range: 200 miles

No longer the UK’s cheapest EV, the Renault’s appeal is undented thanks to a sharper design and greater efficiency. A 200-mile range is up there with the best of them, and when combined with 50kW charging, you might actually think about venturing out of the concrete jungle. 

Read our Renault ZOE review
View all Renault Zoe lease offers

Vauxhall Corsa-e

  • £30,610-£34,160
  • Range: 200 miles

The uninventive naming isn’t the only thing the Corsa-e shares with the Peugeot e-208. Both cars are based on the same platform but look and feel quite different – and not necessarily in a negative way. Throw in a range of exterior and interior colour combinations – as well as identical looks to its ICE cousins – and it’s a winner.

Read our Vauxhall Corsa-e review
View all Vauxhall Corsa-e lease offers

Nissan Leaf

  • £31,145-£39,525
  • Range: 180 miles

The Nissan Leaf was always going to end up on this list. It's been around since 2011, and has seen off the likes of Tesla and Renault to remain the bestselling EV in the UK. Now available with a larger battery pack, its range is competitive with its newest rivals – but it’s also known and trusted throughout the industry. The latest generation might not have the funky styling of some other cars on this list, but it doesn’t really need it.

Read our Nissan Leaf review
View all Nissan Leaf lease offers

Hyundai Ioniq

  • £32,950-£34,950
  • Range 130 miles

Rewind around 12 months, and we’d be singing the Ioniq’s praises, but the EV world moves very fast. The Hyundai’s specs, value and range have been somewhat eclipsed by newer rivals. It’s in need of a facelift, and an injection of tech, too. 

Read our Hyundai Ioniq review
View all Hyundai Ioniq lease offers

BMW i3

  • £35,350-£39,840
  • Range: 180 miles

It hasn’t been updated visually for a while now, but it doesn’t really need to be. The BMW i3 still looks fresh inside and out, and with a 180-mile range its actual performance is competitive, too. There's no escaping the fact it's both expensive and limited in range compared with its more mainstream and newer rivals – but look at it. Leasing deals make it more affordable, too. 

Read our BMW i3 review
View all BMW i3 lease offers

Kia e-Niro

  • £36,495
  • Range: 250 miles

The e-Niro is a juggernaut in the 'budget' end of the EV market. Featuring a brilliant range, stacks of equipment, and a relatively low cash price, the e-Niro is a bargain. Especially with that 250-mile range. 

Read our Kia e-Niro review
View all Kia e-Niro lease offers

Further electric car reading:

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast