By: Byron Mathioudakis

While the small car category has continued to shrink overall, the selection of small electric cars (EV) now available in Australia has seen a modest increase. So if small is big enough for you, here are your current choices in EVs.

For other electric vehicle categories, see SUV EVs, EV utes, Large EV sedans, Mid-size EV sedans and EV vans.

BYD Dolphin from $38,890 (estimated)

A white BYD Dolphin electric car against a white background

The pricing war between inexpensive EVs from China hots up.

Buoyed by strong sales of the Atto 3 small SUV, the hotly-anticipated Dolphin five-door hatchback is amongst the cheapest EVs on sale in Australia.

But a low price isn’t the Toyota Yaris-sized hatchback’s only trick, thanks to crisp styling, a pleasant interior and efficient space utilisation.

Known as the BYD Atto 2 elsewhere, the Dolphin’s electric motor comes in two versions for now: 70kW/180Nm (Dynamic) and 150kW/310Nm (Premium).

There are also various battery options abroad, but for Australia we’re only seeing the 45kWh and 60kWh sizes, delivering 340km and 427km of range respectively.

BYD is famous for its light and robust ‘Blade Battery’ tech, which is claimed to require about 60 minutes for a 30 to 80 per cent top-up using a 50kW DC public charger. The car can also charge electrical equipment.

With order books open, local Dolphin deliveries are due to commence towards the end of 2023.

BYD Atto 2 specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 44.9kWh or 60.48 Lithium Iron Phosphate
Power/torque: 70kW/180Nm, 150kW/310Nm
0-100km/h: 12.3s, 7.3s
Consumption: 15kWh/100km (estimated)
Electric range: 340/427km
Warranty: 6yr/150,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: N/A

MG4 from $38,990

An orange MG4 EV in front of a steel panel

The MG4 is bound to change the face of Australian EV motoring.

As well as being startlingly affordable, the MG4 is a much-more advanced EV than the ageing ZS EV SUV, combining a sleek five-door liftback body with an equally stylish, spacious and sophisticated interior, offering plenty of practicality and features to boot.

Sitting on MG’s new scalable EV architecture, three battery sizes are available: the 51kWh unit in the base car, a 64kWh version and a 77kWh Long Range grade. In all three, electricity is sent to a rear-mounted motor driving the rear wheels.

Find a 50kW DC fast charger and you can replenish the two smaller-battery MG4s from 10-80 per cent in about 70 minutes, or 10 hours and 32 hours with an optional 7kW Wallbox and normal home socket respectively. Add about 20 per cent more time for the Long Range.

Sleek, safe, sprightly and fun to drive, the MG4 is poised to truly democratise EVs in Australia.

MG4 51/64/77 Long Range specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/RWD
Battery: 51kWh/64kWh Lithium Iron phosphate/77kWh Nickel-manganese-cobalt
Power/torque: 150kW-180kW/250Nm
0-100km/h: 7.9s
Consumption: 16.0kWh/100km (estimated)
Electric range: 350km/435km/530km
Warranty: 7yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 7yr/unlimited km
Safety rating: 5 stars

GWM Ora from $39,990

A blue GWM Ora parked on a city street

One of Australia’s cheapest EVs, the Great Wall Motors (GWM) Ora is a spacious five-door hatchback with a Volkswagen Beetle look outside, yet adopts a contemporary, big-screen dashboard style reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz EQA inside.

Aimed at the BYD Atto 3 and built in China, it features a front-mounted 126kW/250Nm electric motor, driving the front wheels. The Standard Range (SR) offers a 48kWh battery for a 310km range while the Extended Range (ER) ups that to 63kWh for 420km.

For the SR, a 50kW DC public fast charger should result in a 30 to 80 per cent top up in about 60 minutes (ER: 75min), nearly eight hours with an optional 7kW Wallbox (ER: 10hr) or about 24 hours plugged into a regular socket (ER: 30hr).

GWM also offers an Ora GT, with a bit more power and luxury equipment like a panoramic sunroof and electric tailgate.

GWM Ora specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 48 or 63kWh Lithium Iron Phosphate
Power/torque: 126kW/250Nm
0-100km/h: 8.4s
Consumption: 15kWh/100km (estimated)
Electric range: 310-420km (WLTP)
Warranty: 7yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Nissan Leaf from $50,990

A white Nissan Leaf in the driveway of a modern home

Nissan’s game-changing Leaf originally launched in 2010 as the first modern EV, became history’s bestselling EV (until Tesla’s Model 3 overtook it) and then underwent a complete restyle in 2017.

Still Corolla-sized, Leaf II reached Australia in 2019 with a big battery boost (to 40kWh) to address earlier low-range issues. A 110kW motor drives the front wheels.

There’s now also far-better steering for more precise handling, a high-resistance throttle setting so when backing off, the Nissan slows down as if it were being braked and feeds more energy back into the battery.

On a 50kW DC public charger it needs about 45 minutes to go from 10 to 80 percent full, while an optional 7kW Wallbox takes 13 hours to get the battery to 100 per cent. Otherwise, using the household mains needs 20 hours.

You can add about 50 per cent more to these times if you’re talking about charging the 62kWh battery Leaf e+.

While getting on in years, the Leaf remains an affordable, comfortable and easy EV to drive and live with. 

Nissan Leaf Leaf, Leaf e+ specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 40kWh and 62kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 110kW/320Nm, 160kW/340Nm
0-100km/h: 7.9s, 6.9s
Consumption: 16.6kWh, 18.5 kWh/100km
Electric range: 285km, 385km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Fiat 500e from $52,500

A light blue Fiat 500e on a city street

While it may seem similar to the (continuing) petrol version, the 500e is actually all-new, more premium and also larger.

Designed for chic urban travel, the comparatively lightweight Italian three-door hatch is fitted with a modestly powered 87kW electric motor and small 42kWh lithium-ion battery pack, for about 315km of range.

The flipside is faster charging; an 85kW DC charger can provide a 50km boost in five minutes. A 50kW outlet needs 30 minutes to go from 10 to 80 per cent full, while an optional 7kW Wallbox requires six hours compared to about 20 hours using the normal mains to reach maximum charge.

Fiat has really laid on the luxury inside as well, with a classy and contemporary layout reflecting both the premium pricing and EV tech underneath, while the list of safety equipment is extensive.

A poor warranty and disappointing four-star ANCAP crash-rest rating are downsides.

Fiat 500e specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 42kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 87kW/220Nm
0-100km/h: 9.0s
Consumption: 14.3kWh/100km
Electric range: 315km
Warranty: 3yr/150,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 4 stars

Cupra Born from $59,990

A red Cupra Born parked in front of a cafe

The Volkswagen Group’s first-ever EV in Australia, Cupra is the sports division of the Seat brand from Spain.

Named after a Barcelonan district, the German-built Born employs VW’s MEB architecture.

Strikingly styled, the Mazda 3-sized five-seater, five-door hatchback projects a hot-hatch performance vibe, and continues that theme inside while still providing decent space and practicality.

Keeping in mind Cupra’s performance aspirations, Australians will only see the 170kW motor version powered by an 82kWh battery and driving the rear wheels.

With over 500km of WLTP range possible, the Born challenges the Tesla Model Y and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Find a 50kW DC charger, and the Born can be recharged to 80 per cent in under 75 minutes, or to 100 per cent in under 13 hours using an optional 7kW Wallbox. A household plug needs about 40 hours.

Offering acceptable performance and keen handling, the Born is an early hot hatch for the EV generation.


Cupra Born specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/RWD
Battery: 82kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 170kW/310Nm
0-100km/h: 7.0s
Consumption: 17kWh/100km
Electric range: 511km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mini Cooper SE Electric from $64,975

A Mini Cooper S illuminated by pink light

Fresh from the UK is the electric Mini, blending a sporty retro groove with progressive EV engineering courtesy of the now-defunct BMW i3.

Based on the ageing Cooper S three-door hatch, the SE’s electric motor drives the front wheels, and is fed by a 32.6kWh battery.

Though the 233km range is low by any standards, this is a city car all about right-sizing.

Using a 50kW DC charger, an 80 percent top-up is possible in 30 minutes; the 7kW Wallbox option will kick that up to five hours, while a normal home plug needs 15 hours.

For many people who don't need lengthy battery range, the Mini's smaller battery helps keep the car compact and more affordable than it would be otherwise.

The rest is familiar, from the roomy front cabin, tight two-seater rear and short-but-deep boot, to the stylised dash with circular motifs, toggle switches and sturdy build.

Add expensive options that should be standard, and this is literally the Mini of EVs.

Mini Cooper SE specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric permanent-magnet
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 32.6kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 135kW/270Nm
0-100km/h: 7.3s
Consumption: 15.2kWh/100km
Electric range: 233km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Renault Megane E-Tech from $64,990 (estimated)

A light brown Renault Megane e-tech with a modern city building in the background

One of the most advanced and exciting new-wave EVs, the Megane E-Tech is a midsized SUV designed to take on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

Due before the end of 2023, it lands as a single, highly-specified model, brandishing handsome proportions and a spacious and contemporary five-seater interior that prioritises recyclable materials.

On that subject, power is provided by a 160kW motor that avoids rare-earth elements, driving the front wheels, while a 60kWh provides a highly-impressive 450km range.

Renault says it prioritised sporty performance and agility, yet has also worked hard to make the Megane E-Tech plush and refined in the old-school French-car manner.

A 50kW DC charger needs about 60 minutes for a 10 to 80 per cent battery top-up. With the included 7kW Wallbox count on around 10 hours, or nearly 31 hours using a regular socket, for a 100 per cent refill.

Rapid, sophisticated and inviting, the Megane E-Tech is a leading EV contender.


Renault Megane E-Tech specifications
Motor: Electrically excited synchronous
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/FWD
Battery: 60kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 160kW/300Nm
0-100km/h: 7.4s
Consumption: 16.1kWh/100km
Electric range: 450km
Warranty: N/A
Battery warranty: N/A
Safety rating: 5 stars

Electric range is quoted using the World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP), or otherwise are manufacturers’ claims.

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