Our top 10 sub-£35,000 grant-getting electric cars




Ginny Buckley

19.3.2021

The government's Plug-In Car Grant rules have recently been revised so that you will only be entitled to receive the £2,500 discount if the electric car you are buying has a list price of under £35,000. There are still plenty of great car under this threshold though: here are 10 of our favourites.

1. MINI Electric

Priced from £25,600 - £32,000

We love the fact the Mini is familiar, fun to drive and at the affordable end of the EV spectrum. It shares much of its engineering with the BMW i3 which helps keep the cost down, so the electric MINI is cheaper than some top versions of the petrol car. 

There’s another reason for the cost being lower than you might expect though – the battery. Rather than try and match the long-range power packs offered by rivals, MINI has settled on a comparatively small (32.6kWh) battery which means you’ll need to plug in after around 145 miles – or fewer in less-than-ideal conditions. But this might be plenty for you as the majority of cars in the UK are driven for less than 20 miles a day on average.

Where the MINI claws back some advantage over most rivals is on quality. The interior has the characterful look we’ve come to expect from a MINI, with features that manage to look bang-up-to-date and a bit retro at the same time. It certainly looks and feels more special than ‘normal’ competitors. The exterior is instantly recognisable as a MINI and has a few little details which mark it out as an electric model without shouting about it.

The MINI, then, is a welcome addition to the electric car party but it’s not without its compromises. If you can live with the fact that it’s only available as a three-door and don’t need the extra driving range then it’s funky looking, drives well and has a sense of quality that’s a cut above rivals.

Read the full review of the MINI Electric and watch the video here.



A good thing in a small package

2. MG5 EV

Price: £24,995 - £27,495 (after grant)

A glut of electric cars are launching at the moment which is great news for those switching or looking to upgrade their EV. Most of the new crop are pretty fancy with futuristic styling, bold colour options and equally out-there names on their bootlids. And then there’s the MG5. 

It’s easy to overlook the MG5 but if you do then we reckon you’re missing out. Yes, its styling is pretty unassuming, and yes there are electric cars with better ranges and more performance, but that’s not what the MG5 is all about. 

What we’ve got here is the first all-electric estate car to arrive in the UK, months, even years ahead of the competition. It’s decently made, wears a recognisable badge and comes with a seven-year warranty. 

And with prices starting at £24,995 (after the Government grant), it’s not only cheaper than MG’s excellent-value ZS EV, but it’s also one of the least expensive electric family cars on sale at the moment. It undercuts a Nissan Leaf by around £5,000 and has a respectable driving range of 214 miles.

As an estate car it's not quite as fashionable as an SUV, but MG has used some clever tricks to make it just as practical and that means there are similar levels of space inside to a conventional estate of this size. Read our full review of the MG5 EV and watch the video here

MG5: not fancy, but good value

3. Fiat 500 Electric

Price: £20,495 - £30,495 (after grant)

Fiat has taken a much-loved car and re-invented it for a new generation. An electric only 500 is the ultimate city car and we love ‘Sherpa’ mode which makes sure you get the most out of your range.

The Fiat 500 electric is available with an impressively big range, with two battery pack options, a choice of hatch or cabrio body styles and three trim levels. There's also a launch special La Prima (the first) version for those with particularly deep pockets. 

The New 500 might look like a facelift of the previous car, but it's a completely new car and the design team have done a fantastic job with the detailing and overall look. Range for the bigger 42kWh version is an impressive 199 miles, which rather embarrasses the likes of the similarly dinky Honda e and MINI Electric

Rapid charging can be done at up to 85kW (42kWh battery only), which is faster than average top-ups and works out at a 20-80% zap in around 30 minutes. 

The New 500’s interior is arguably its greatest area of progression over the previous generation, even taking into account the switch to electric. The driving position is now comfortable and there’s a decent range of movement to the wheel and seat, which you couldn’t say of its predecessor. 

It also gets the 10-inch touchscreen system that delivers the features you expect in 2020. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, as is TomTom nav, USB connectivity and more. 

Read our full review and watch the video of the Fiat 500 Electric here

Small, but perfectly formed

4. Volkswagen ID.3 

Price: £29,170 - £30,490 (eligible versions after grant)

Volkswagen has thrown all its engineering might into creating its first dedicated electric car and hopes the ID.3 will bring electric power to the people. It’s a really clever car, with a long range for not a lot of money and plenty of space for a family. 

When you’re on the road the ID.3 feels very Golf-like, but quieter. It’s smooth and fast without being as outrageous as a Tesla. Certainly the acceleration below 30 mph is more like a GTi than a 1.4, but once at higher speeds the punch tails off a little. 

The most useful part is the steering, which turns a surprisingly long way, giving the ID.3 a really tight turning capability, making parking and manoeuvring much easier.

There’s a bewildering array of battery, motor and trim levels and there are cheaper versions with a small power packs arriving soon too. But there are still two models - the Life Pro and Life Performance - with 58kWh batteries which qualify for the grant and have a 263 mile range. You won’t go further for less. 

We have a few reservations though, mainly around the software glitches and strange specifications which have resulted from VW rushing to get this car to market, but it’s still worth a look.

Our full review and videos can be found here.

ID.3 has the best range per pound of any electric car

5. Nissan Leaf

Price: £27,345- £35,000 (eligible versions after grant)

The world’s best-selling electric car is a practical, fun-to-drive, no compromise family hatchback that just happens to be powered by electricity. 

Rivals such as the VW ID.3 are overtaking it now, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it. There are two sizes of battery on offer - a 40kWh and a 62kWh. At the time of writing the bigger-batteried version was just out of the £35,000 price bracket but we have heard a rumour that Nissan’s marketing department is scrambling to ‘realign’ the listing to sneak it under and make it grant-eligible.

Even if you plump for the 40kWh version you’ll still get a decent 168 mile range and respectable performance. It might have been around for a while but the Leaf is still packed with tech and has a decent record for reliability. 

Read and watch our reviews here

6. Vauxhall Mokka

Price: £30,540 - £32,495

Vauxhall's Mokka has gone from being barely-palatable to a gourmet delight. It's stylish, good to drive and pretty efficient too. Looks are always a question of personal taste of course, but there is no doubt that the new Mokka is now a much more interesting car to look at. It really has gone from the sort of car you’d park around the corner to something you’d be proud to say is yours. 

The electric version has a 50kWh battery and a motor which produces around 134bhp - that’s actually more powerful than the petrol or diesel versions. In the Mokka it gives you an official range of just over 200 miles - 201, to be precise - per charge. 

A home wallbox charger will see it topped up in 7.5 hours. It’s very refined to drive, but not particularly exciting so don’t expect sporty thrills. Inside it gives you a useful amount of room compared to a smaller car like the Corsa, and also the raised driving position everyone loves.

Top versions stray into the £35,000+ territory, so choose carefully if you want to take advantage of the grant.

Watch and read Nicki's review here.

Vauxhall Mokka e electric car parked in field with Nicki Shields Mokka is our cup of tea

7. MG ZS

Price: £25,995- £28,495 (after grant)​

While it isn’t sporty to drive like you might expect from a car wearing an MG badge, the ZS EV is a practical family electric car which looks good and is great value. Its strong points are a good range and a long warranty, both of which give you peace of mind.

The ZS EV is powered by a 141bhp electric motor and a 44.5kWh battery pack giving a range of 163 miles, meaning it compares well to cars like the Leaf which are similar money.

And it certainly isn’t a basic car or badly made, with plenty of tech, a top safety rating and solid-feeling interior.

There are a few niggles though. The lack of technology to allow pre-heating or timed charging is a big oversight, as these were on the Nissan Leaf when it was launched a decade ago and are essential for many EV owners. It isn’t especially thrilling to drive either and doesn’t have a fun factor you’d expect from a car wearing the MG octagon badge. 

That said, it’s quiet, comfortable and easy to live with which for most people is all they want.

Have a look at our full reviews here.


ZS has a top safety rating and warranty

8. Peugeot e208

Price: £27,225 - £31,475 (after grant)

How clever of Peugeot to simply make three versions of the latest 208, petrol, diesel and electric. The great looking e208 may not have the longest range at 217 miles, but it's pretty usable and you can top it up with 100 miles in just 20 minutes on a rapid charger. 

The e208 has selectable modes which temper the amount of power and the way the car feels. In ‘Sport’ you get the full 135bhp but you won’t be able to drive as far between charges. ‘Normal’ gives you 100bhp and is meant for everyday driving. If you want to make the most of the range there’s ‘Eco’ which cuts the power and extends the range to about 280 miles. It means you can tailor the car to be fun, economical or somewhere in-between.

Charging is easy too. At home you can use a normal 7kW point but at a rapid charger, the e208 can zap in the watts at up to 100kW, which is fast compared to rivals in this price range. Low running costs mean the Peugeot e208 starts to claw back some of the extra investment you had to make to buy the electric version in the first place. 

Read our full review of the Peugeot e208 and watch the video here

e208 offers three modes for three moods

9. Vauxhall Corsa-e

Price: £27,120 - £31,395 (after grant)

It’s closely related to the Peugeot e208 and there’s a lot to like about the new Corsa e too. Not least that for those new to pure EV ownership, it doesn’t look, feel or drive very differently to any of it’s stablemates. The Corsa is one of the best-selling cars in Britain, around 2.1 million of us drive one. So, the news that this car is going electric is a pretty big deal, and proof that the world is becoming electrified. 

It has a 50kWh battery, meaning it has comfortably more range than the new MINI Electric, VW e-UP! and the cheaper version on the Nissan Leaf. It’s also bang up against the class-leading 52kWh of the Renault Zoe. 

That’s good enough for an official range of 209 miles, and once the battery is exhausted you can ‘fill up’ faster by using the new 100kW chargers. 

One difference over the Peugeot is the specification. Whereas the e208 can be had in a ‘base level’ trim without such luxuries as alloy wheels, the Corsa-e is only available as the top two models in the range – SE and Elite. Use the online configurator to spec up the range topping version with an 11kW fast charge option and some pretty paint and the bill tops £35,000, which could mean it's ineligible for the government grant. Even with the grant deducted it still seems to be an eye-widening amount for a Vauxhall Corsa. 

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Corsa e is how normal it all is. This is an electric car without the fuss or fanfare.

Read our full review of the Corsa e and watch the video here

Corsa does without fuss or fanfare

10. Mazda MX-30

Price: £26,045 - £30,345 (after grant)

There are plenty of interesting innovations and neat bits of design in Mazda’s MX-30, the company’s first electric car. But there is one element which sticks in our memory: the cork interior. 

Rather than use the conventional plastic, metal or wood to trim parts of the dashboard, Mazda’s designers chose the material which is used in pin boards, 1970s bathrooms and wine bottles - and we think it looks cool!

The MX-30 is a striking car all round. Its most obvious rivals are the MINI Electric and the Honda e, both of which are thoroughly modern but have cutesy retro styling. But the Mazda has a futuristic SUV-like look and pillarless doors, just like a BMW i3.

The other element the MX-30 shares with the MINI and Honda is a surprisingly small battery. At 35.5 kWh it is noticeably smaller than rivals such as the Kia e-Niro’s 64kWh. For comparison, the VW ID.3 starts at 45kWh and offers up to 77kWh in the top version. 

This will inevitably cause a few raised eyebrows as it results in a range which is far below the average at 124 miles, which it does on a cold winter's day. But Mazda claims this is 'right sizing', representing plenty of range for the average motorist. It also means the car is attractively priced and light compared to rivals. 

But a more interesting trait brought by having a smaller battery is the driving experience. Because the MX-30 is lighter, it is also great fun to drive. One downside is that because of the narrow rear doors, the access is poor and where other electric cars offer extra legroom due to clever packaging, the Mazda’s rear seats and headroom are going to cause complaints from adult passengers. 

 Read the full review of the Mazda MX-30 and watch the video here

Small battery = small price

Best of the rest

Renault Zoe: Price: £27,495 - £30,995 (after grant)

​The Zoe didn't make our top ten because, to be honest, we forgot. That's the trouble with the little Renault, it has plodded on looking almost the same while the rest of the world has changed around it. 

The Zoe is a perfectly decent little hatchback though, and has an unusually large range for this size of car. If you need to go a long way between charges it's a great option - but the VW ID.3 is bigger and better value with an even longer range for not much more money. Our review is here.

SEAT Mii Electric Price: £20,300 (after grant)

We’ve been charmed by the Mii. It’s an honest, well-made and surprisingly fun package that covers all the basics and delivers a longer range than you'd expect. Factor in the £20k price tag and it’s going to make financial sense for a lots of drivers who might have thought they couldn't go electric. 

Watch Ginny compare it to shoes here.

Hyundai Kona 39kWh Price: £30,625 (after grant)

The change is grant threshold has thrown the big-battery Konas into the zone where they look pricey, but you can still get a 39kWh version with the government-funded bung. It might not have the headline range but it's still a handsome and well equipped small electric SUV. 

Have a look at the full review here

top 10 electric cars for under £35,000

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