We’ll be the first to admit that electric cars haven’t exactly been known for their – ahem – affordability in the past. Mainly because their engine technology and overall level of car technology was so niche (read: expensive).

But that’s all changed in recent years. There’s now a new generation of electric cars quietly zooming around the streets and what’s more, you can actually afford to run one.

A petrol/electric supermini, the Toyota Yaris is technically a hybrid and not really a fully-electric vehicle. I’m including it though because it’s a fantastic car if you’re slightly sceptical about electric cars and want to ease yourself into the world of alternative fuels gently.

With the 1.5-litre petrol engine and the compact electric motor, you get a pretty respectable 100 bhp, which is more than enough for cruising around town. Cabin space is pretty good too, with a decent amount of legroom all round. You also get a Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system, complete with a 7-inch screen too, so it’s great if you’re keen on your tech.

As an interesting aside, the powerpack included in the car is essentially a mini-version of that in the Prius, so you get a hint of luxury in the Yaris, as well as proper practicality.

91 viewed this car Yaris Hatchback View Gallery
7.9

Toyota Yaris Hatchback

71 derivatives available

  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 0.0 - 1.8
  • Fuel: D, P, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 75 - 170g/km

From £153.30 Per Month

Initial Rental: £919.80 inc VAT

The Citroen C-Zero hatchback isn’t the cheapest around, leasing from £150.38 per month, but it does offer a broad enough range of features and good performance to make it qualify as a ‘proper’ car in my opinion – not just a glorified milk float. The key draw with the C-Zero is the quality of the interior and the running costs. It’ll cost you just £2.50 in electricity to run for 120 miles.

No prizes for guessing how many seats you get in this electric hatchback… All joking aside though, the Smart ForFour is the most convincing attempt at creating an electric city car, that I’ve seen so far. Okay, it might not be best for going on long distance expeditions across the length of the entire country, but when it comes from getting you from A to B, for work or shopping, the ForFour hatchback is ideal. In terms of distances, you’ll get around 100 miles on a single charge, and with the option of a fast charger unit at home, you’ll be able to charge from flat in under an hour.

64 viewed this car Forfour Hatchback View Gallery
6.7

Smart Forfour Hatchback

33 derivatives available

  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 0.0 - 1.5
  • Fuel: D, P, E
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: None

From £124.27 Per Month

Initial Rental: £745.62 inc VAT

Available from £202.16 per month, the Nissan Leaf is at the top of the budget when it comes to affordable electric cars, but it’s priced up there for good reason.

I think the Leaf is one of the rare electric cars that actually manages to live up to the hype.

It can make 0 to 63mph in just over 8 seconds, it’s ridiculously quiet and it charges to full from empty in five and a half hours. All pretty good selling points, if you ask me.

But the thing that really sets the Leaf apart is the driving distances that you can cover. In the past, electric cars have been hampered by how quickly they run out of energy, some only giving you a few dozen miles of driving range before needing to be charged. With the Leaf though, Nissan claims that you’ll get 235 miles out of it on a single charge – a significant improvement.

30 viewed this car Leaf Hatchback View Gallery
8.0

Nissan Leaf Hatchback

6 derivatives available

  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 0.0
  • Fuel: E
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: None

From £288.62 Per Month

Initial Rental: £2,597.61 inc VAT

If you’re looking for a cheap car to run around the city streets, the Smart ForTwo is it. Stop your searching because you’ve found the car you’ve been looking for.

It’s tiny, but it’s not cramped. It’s lightweight, but it’s not jittery. And it’s innovative without being complicated to use. It even manages to boast a decent amount of storage space for such a small car – 260 litres to the parcel shelf and 350 litres to the roof.

If you’re a sucker for running costs, the Smart ForTwo’s stats will leave you gobsmacked. For just £250 worth of electricity, you’ll get around 6,000 miles out of it. Electric cars aren’t looking as dowdy as they once were, are they?

76 viewed this car Fortwo Coupe View Gallery
7.0

Smart Fortwo Coupe

37 derivatives available

  • Doors: 2
  • Engine: 0.0 - 1.0
  • Fuel: P, D, E
  • Body: City-Car
  • Drive: A, M
  • CO2: None

From £119.78 Per Month

Initial Rental: £718.68 inc VAT