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What is the best electric car on a budget?

What is the best electric car on a budget?
Top Gear Advice

Smart’s electric Fortwo is the cheapest EV on the market, but is it also the happiest?

“You get what you pay for” is one of the most annoyingly obvious expressions ever, but it does explain commerce usefully in a handy short sentence. Its true meaning, of course, is that if you’re not willing to spend a lot of money, you shouldn’t expect much in return. Unless you’re buying a couch, there’s always an offer somewhere, but hurry, it should be finished by Sunday.

Electric cars are a particularly good example – the cheapest on the market right now is the Smart EQ Fortwo, at least until the Citroën Ami arrives on the UK scene. It says a lot about the current state of the car market that the cheapest electric vehicle you can buy is a perky £20,725 (just £70 extra to get the bigger Forfour, by the way) including the government’s plug-in £1,500 Grant , which in the past he likes to wipe away in a heartbeat. Presumably as an incentive to buy an EV before it gets more expensive.

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For that £21k you get the familiar city-friendly Smart package, but equipped with an 80hp e-motor, 17kWh battery and a 22kW on-board charger. That battery is especially on the small side, teenier than you’ll find in many PHEVs for sale today, with an official WLTP range of about 80 miles. Which in practice means a range of significantly less than 80 miles. You don’t have to go far, do you?

The entry-level model is the Premium spec car, which gives you a panoramic sunroof (although how panoramic can it be in such a small vehicle?), heated seats, smartphone connectivity and even a rear view camera for the daunting task of parking the Smart . There’s even a little extra insulation in the doors to keep the heat from escaping, as heating up the cab has a terrible effect on range.

Those are all wonderful luxuries – if you want a car that carries its low price on its sleeve, you’d probably rather wait until June, when the worn-out Citroën Ami goes on sale. The French company is still busy deciding what it can afford to stay in the car and not lose money on it, so it has yet to confirm final prices and specs. But suffice it to say that smartphone connectivity here probably involves sticking your mobile to the dashboard.

But who can complain about a lack of standard equipment (power windows? Pah, you get little glassy flaps like cars from the good old days) when the Ami’s suggested price is under £6k? With prices like that, millennials can still eat crushed avocado for breakfast every morning and have some wheels to call their own. Until it comes to charging the car again, of course. But at least it isn’t powered by gas.

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Sure, the Ami is limited to a sluggish 28 mph, and yes, it has a paltry 5.5 kWh battery and 46 miles of range, but who needs more than that in the city? For the 300 people who will eventually buy one (versus the many thousands who say they would on social media), it will be perfect. Besides, you get what you pay for, don’t you.

Best electric car on a budget – Smart EQ Fortwo
Price: £20,725
Range: 81 miles
Engine: 80 hp e-motor
Battery: 17kWh
Top speed: 81mph
Storage space: 260 liters
Likely number of miles before the distance anxiety becomes paralyzed: 14

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