At a glance

  • New drivers have specific considerations for their first cars - including affordability, ease of use, size and reliability
  • Many new drivers want EVs both for their eco-credentials as well as for their looks and practicality
  • Find out about 10 of the best electric cars for first-time drivers
  • We explore what makes each EV in our list unique, and consider the all-important factor of cost



If you’re looking to buy your first car, then going electric can be a great choice. Electric vehicles (EVs) can be very easy to drive, there’s much less that can go wrong with them compared to traditional cars, charging them up is usually cheaper than buying petrol or diesel, and they often come with the latest and greatest tech. Oh, and since they’re zero emission you might be able to avoid certain road taxes and charges while helping the planet too. No wonder over half of young drivers say they want to buy an EV next, according to an AA survey.

But what’s the best electric car for you? If you’re new to driving, getting your head around all the variations between individual EVs can be a bit of a nightmare. What’s an acceptable range? Which brands offer ‘beginner’ cars? What sort of tech do you need, and what can you do without?

To help you on your way, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best first electric cars we believe are ideal if you’ve recently passed your driving test. 

Considerations when buying your first EV

In many ways, electric vehicles are an ideal option for new drivers. Since they’re easy to drive and maintain, many new drivers find them easier to get on with compared to petrol or diesel alternatives

The big stumbling block, however, is price. New and used EVs are usually more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents today, which can make them seem unaffordable up front. However, by weighing up the costs of running an EV compared to other fuel types, you might decide that in the long run, they work out as cost-competitive.  

For more tips, read our article on buying your first car, where we summarise several tips for buying a first vehicle such as:

  • Setting a realistic budget
  • Deciding to buy used or new
  • Knowing about different car types
  • Safety considerations
  • How and where to buy
  • Tips to make sure you don’t get ripped off
  • Warranty and insurance

10 best electric cars for teens and new drivers

Whether you need an EV for commuting to work, driving to college and uni, or weekends away with friends, our list of the best first electric cars for new drivers will help you narrow down your options. 


1. Nissan Leaf

This first true mass-market EV offers terrific value and is one of the best first electric cars. The Leaf has been around in various iterations since 2010, and recent editions get great reviews for their comfort, efficiency and ease of driving. A superb city car, the Leaf handles speed bumps and traffic well, is easy to park and simple to maintain.

With an impressive range of 239 miles (in optimal conditions), the Leaf can handle most trips you’d want to do on a single charge. And it’s got plenty of decent technology inside, with contemporary styling and a decent infotainment system. 

Best Features

  • The Leaf offers great value to new drivers, with prices starting from just £6,000, it’s one of the cheapest used EVs
  • Later models are equipped with ProPilot driver assistance package, which is ideal for keeping new drivers safer on the roads
  • Easy to use technology makes it a simple car for new drivers on the road to get used to 
  • Practical interior is ideal for those wanting a bit more space with their first car. 
  • On sale since 2011, with the second generation following in 2018. Remains one of the most popular new EVs
  • Early cars had limited electric range due to small battery, but new models can travel up to 239 miles on a charge
  • Family hatchback size – similar to a Ford Focus
  • 24kWh to 62kWh battery options available

2. Renault Zoe

This electric hatchback is affordable, compact and a great choice for drivers new to the road. Despite being one of the smallest EVs on the market, the Zoe still packs a punch, with a range of up to 239 miles on some of the latest editions (less so on older ones). That smaller size makes them great for city driving, parking and manoeuvring – you’ll have no trouble showing off your parallel parking in these 4-metre-long cars!

Zoes have been around a while too, which means they’ve been tried and tested and are regarded as reliable and nice to drive. All in all, they’re a great electric car for teens and younger drivers looking for something affordable, without sacrificing on quality. 

Best Features

  • The Zoe was another early electric car, with used prices starting from £6,500, it’s a great, low-cost choice
  • Nippy to drive around town, helped by good visibility and relatively compact dimensions
  • Rapid charging is optional on the Zoe, so if you want to be able to charge quickly, make sure it has this capability fitted (you can check by looking in the charge port)
  • Newer EVs do perform better in recent Euro NCAP safety tests 
  • 22kWh battery versions on early cars, but latest cars use 52kWh battery
  • Early cars had a minimal electric range (less than 100 miles), but the latest cars can travel up to 239 miles on a charge
  • Supermini size – similar to that of a Renault Clio, but it’s a taller design and you sit higher up 
  • Good standard safety equipment across the board

3. Honda e

This funky electric car is ideal for around town, and is a really good first electric car, thanks to its ease of use, compact size and tech. The drawback is that it doesn’t come cheap.  

Despite being fairly pricey, the Honda e should still make your list – it handles very well as a car for urban driving, helping you cruise through city streets with ease. It’s also got tons of tech inside, from parking assist to multiple screens, charging points and lots of other bells and whistles. And while the range might be a little less than other models (topping out at 137 miles), it’s more than enough for most people’s commute to work, college or uni. It’s also got a cute, fun design – making it a great electric car for teens who want an EV with personality. 

Best Features

  • Honda’s first EV looks like no other car on the road thanks to its retro-inspired design
  • Huge fun to drive, and very nippy. Plenty of safety equipment included too 
  • Compact size and amazingly small turning circle make it a brilliant urban car but compromised by small range
  • Relatively small, but lightweight 35.5kWh battery is used
  • Small battery limits the Honda e’s range somewhat – claiming just 137 miles 
  • The car is absolutely crammed with technology. Ideal for those that like cutting-edge features, but could prove daunting for some new drivers, particularly the camera-based rear-view mirrors
  • Compact supermini size – smaller than a Ford Fiesta

4. Volkswagen e-Up!

This fun city car offers great value and a respectable EV range. The e-Up! is VW’s electric version of their popular Up! petrol car. And it offers the same great driveability, easy manoeuvring and compact size and shape, which makes it great for bombing around town, nipping to the shops and short commutes. 

Some of the more recent iterations give you a decent range of up to 159 miles too, which is plenty for short trips (and is competitive with other more expensive compact EVs). It doesn’t come with huge amounts of tech or modern stylings – but you might not need all those extras on your first car anyway. 

Best Features

  • The e-Up! is generously equipped, with models featuring a reversing camera and heated seats from the outset
  • Very easy to drive and compact dimensions make it superb around town
  • 159-mile range and rapid charging means longer journeys are possible without too much hassle 
  • Compact electric city car retains strengths of petrol Up! with the efficiency and low running costs of an EV
  • Early versions featured a tiny 18.7kWh battery, but VW almost doubled the battery size in 2020 to 36.8kWh
  • Compact city car size
  • Early versions had a claimed range of just 99 miles (less in real-world), but this was boosted to 159 miles with a larger battery

5. BMW i3

The BMW i3 is easily one of the best first electric cars out there. In fact, it’s one of the best EVs full stop. Highly regarded since its first arrival in 2014, the i3 gives you a very respectable range for such a small car (up to 188 miles on newer versions), it’s quick off the mark, and comfortably fits four adults.

As you’d expect from BMW, the i3 is a very smooth drive, and it just feels good to be behind the wheel. While the futuristic design divides opinion, it’s definitely a striking first car.

Best Features

  • The i3 was BMW’s first EV, and continues to remain futuristic even a decade after first arriving on sale
  • Various versions offered, including a range-extender that featured a small petrol engine for greater long-distance trips
  • Sustainability is front-of-mind, with various recycled materials being used for its construction 
  • Fun and great around the city, but might prove pricey to insure for new drivers
  • Choice of i3 and slightly sportier i3 S model
  • 21.6kWh to 42kWh battery models offered
  • Compact electric hatchback
  • The i3 offers a maximum claimed range of 188 miles 

6. Kia Soul EV

This funky electric crossover is ideal for new drivers wanting a compact SUV. There’s a lot to love about the Soul EV – it handles incredibly well, on both city streets and motorways, which will help with your confidence as you drive more widely.

The car also comes with some of the longest range in this list – up to 280 miles on newer versions – making it a great first car if you need to commute longer distances or your job requires car travel. And as an SUV (‘sports utility vehicle’ – basically more spacious cars that are higher off the ground), you get more internal storage too.

Best Features

  • The Soul EV was Kia’s first electric model
  • Bold styling helped to show a different side to Kia, with the latest models offering particularly funky design 
  • All Soul EVs are generously equipped from the offset, with newer cars coming with heated seats, large touchscreen and LED lights all as standard 
  • Not the most practical SUV on the market, but one of the roomiest models on this list. 
  • Introduced in 2014, second-generation model followed in 2020
  • First Soul EVs had quite a small battery (30kWh), but the second version more than doubled this to 64kWh
  • Compact SUV is a similar size to the Nissan Juke 
  • Small range on early cars, but 280 miles is claimed for the latest cars

7. Fiat 500 Electric

The Fiat 500 is an iconic compact city car (Fiat have been producing this line since the 1950s) and with this electrified version, the Italian brand has brought the car into the modern age. Its small footprint and ‘cute’ look make it a great electric car for teens and indeed, anyone after a retro look. But despite its diminutive proportions, it still has impressive range (up to 199 miles) and quick charging. 

The Fiat 500 Electric also handles very well – it’s especially impressive driving around town but is comfortable on motorways too. And with comfortable seating and a decent Sat Nav and infotainment system, it’s got everything a new driver needs. Cost, however, could be an issue – the car was only launched in 2021, so there isn’t a big used market just yet. 

Best Features

  • Fiat’s iconic 500 was launched with an electric powertrain in 2021 
  • Despite its cool styling closely resembling the petrol 500, this EV is a completely bespoke model
  • Lots of standard equipment, and high-end technology on top-spec cars 
  • Range of up to 199 miles means 500 EV can be easily used away from the city, where it excels first 
  • Though the 500 is a great choice for new drivers, its relative newness makes it a pricey choice
  • Choice of 24kWh or 42kWh battery models, with the majority of buyers choosing the latter 
  • Smaller battery capable of a claimed 118 miles on a charge, but this improves to 199 miles with bigger battery 
  • Compact city car

8. Smart EQ ForTwo

Smart cars are the ultimate city car – and this electric version is fantastic for new drivers who won’t be doing many miles. While the official range is 84 miles – and it will do less than that under most conditions – long drives are not what the EQ ForTwo is all about. This car is designed for city driving where you won’t be covering enormous distances. That is, in fact, how most people drive in the UK – a study by data firm NimbleFins shows most people cover less than 20 miles per day. If you need your first car for short drives to college, uni or your weekend job, then it’s pretty much perfect. Leave it to charge overnight, and you won’t have a problem. 

And this dinky car is also incredibly agile, easy to drive in busy city streets and is famous for letting you park in the tightest of spots. All of this makes it a great electric car for teens, new drivers, and indeed anyone living in a city. 


Best Features

  • Compact size is ideal for new drivers – great visibility and so easy to drive and park. 
  • Funky styling is popular among younger audiences, particularly in the urban areas it’s targeted at 
  • Convertible model available as well as ‘Coupe’ derivative
  • Smart has only sold electric cars since 2019
  • Despite its small size, the ForTwo has a good safety record
  • Smart first introduced an electric ForTwo in 2013, with a second-gen EV arriving in 2017 
  • Claimed range of around 80 miles very much limits the ForTwo’s use for those doing any longer trips
  • Small 18kWh battery
  • Tiny city car is so small it can be parked the other way in parallel parking bays

9. Mini Electric

The iconic British brand has long been a popular first car, and this EV version which was launched in 2020, has a lot going for it. The Mini Electric is a great all rounder. It’s smooth and easy to drive, charges up quickly, and is fast too. Despite being a Mini, the driver and main passenger have plenty of room, although if you’re carrying your friends to college in the back seats, they’ll be cramped. The car has decent boot space, and EV has lots of nifty technology, and an eye-catching circular infotainment dashboard. 

The Mini Electric doesn’t have an enormous range – 145 miles max. But like the EQ ForTwo, this is mainly designed as a city car – it’s not intended for long road trips (but its small battery means it charges up faster if you are travelling further afield). All in all, it’s one of the best first electric cars out there. 

Best Features

  • Mini Electric is a fantastic urban car with its small dimensions
  • Ultra-cool styling. Doesn’t look much different from petrol versions of Hatch, and majors on design
  • Huge fun to drive thanks to its nippy but manageable performance
  • May prove a pricey option to insure for newer drivers
  • Equipped with a 32kWh battery
  • Compact supermini
  • Mini claims a range of up to 145 miles

10. Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen’s Golf has long been one of the German brand’s best-sellers, and its electric version ticks all the same boxes as the original. Around since 2014, this electric hatchback has been tried and tested, and the technology on more recent versions keeps improving – as does the range (144 miles on the newest ones).

Golfs are loved for their great handling and reliability – these qualities have been successfully transferred to the battery-powered version of the car too. Inside, you get loads of space, a decent-sized boot, and handy tech such as parking sensors, Sat Nav, easy maintenance and fast charging. All of which makes the e-Golf one of the best first electric cars.  

Best Features

  • Popular hatchback offered as an EV between 2014-2021
  • Practical interior is ideal for new drivers looking for a little more space 
  • Not the longest range, but an EV that’s very easy to drive and live with
  • Well-built interior offers solid feel and generous equipment levels
  • e-Golf was introduced in 2014, but given a major update in 2017. Based on the seventh-generation Golf, which was also sold as petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid
  • Small battery was fitted at first, but 2017 cars gained a much larger battery. Gained most popularity in later years
  • Family hatchback size
  • Range of up to 144 miles offered

What’s the best electric car for you?

As our list of electric cars for teens and new drivers shows, there are plenty of EVs to choose from today. We selected these cars because they tick many of the boxes that new drivers are after: easy to drive, affordable, and simple to maintain. 

You’ll know your needs best. If you’ll regularly be driving long distances, then something like a Zoe, Leaf or Kia Soul will give the kind of range you need. On the other hand, if you’re mainly going to use your new car for short commutes, then a smaller city car like the Smart EQ ForTwo or the Fiat 500 Electric will more than suffice. As with buying any car, think about what you really need, then you can really narrow down the best electric car for you. 

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