French Fancy: A Parisian love affair with Europe's cheapest electric car

French Fancy: A Parisian love affair with Europe’s cheapest electric car

There are many cities in Europe that are difficult to drive in. Palermo is a barely organised chaos, a cacophony of car horns and hand gestures flung at you from passing Vespas. Driving in Amsterdam feels like playing a real-life game of Frogger, except you are the car and the frog is a group of stoned tourists with the giggles. But for me, when it comes to Europe’s most stressful driving experience, Paris is in a league all of its own.

It’s not that the locals are bad drivers – on the contrary, they’re actually really good. That’s what makes it so stressful. They have a confidence in their driving abilities, born out of a lifetime negotiating the laneless anarchy of Parisian traffic, and it inspires them to go for gaps only millimetres bigger than the width of their own car. At speed. While beeping at you.

The point I’m making here is that driving in Paris is really, really stressful. And doing so while trying to film a car review was a really stupid idea of mine.

Still, at least I had the perfect tool for the job: the new Dacia Spring, AKA Europe’s cheapest electric car. And when I say cheap, I don’t mean ‘cheap by electric car standards’ because sadly, anything sub-30 grand still looks reasonable relative to most EVs on sale today. No, the Dacia is properly, actually affordable. Thanks to generous government grants, French residents can have one for just €12,500. And that, however you slice it, is a properly cheap car.

Fancy it is not. The wheel is adorned with fake buttons that once served various functions in whichever other Dacia model it’s been yanked off. The single motor is about as powerful as the one in my electric skateboard and the interior is made from slightly nasty, scratchy plastic. And I absolutely adore it.

Because amid the endless line of posh, 60-something thousands pound EVs getting unveiled every week, the Spring is a breath of fresh air. It is EVs made simple, and the exact type of car we desperately need more of if this whole electric thing is going to catch on in a big way.

But it also has a genuine charm to it. Yes it’s utilitarian, but that simplicity has been executed in a way that brings a smile to your face, even while an eighty year-old French man in a knackered old Clio tries to t-bone you on a mini-roundabout. It is just a wonderful little car, and I pray Dacia has the courage to bring it to the UK market – because I think UK buyers would snap it up.

The Dacia Spring is decisively Europe’s cheapest car, and one we’ve been trying to get our hands on for a very long time. And, at long last, we were able to spend some time with one in Paris for a proper road test to finally get answers to the burning questions we’ve had for some time: is it any good? Could we see it doing well in the UK? And was trying to film a car review while negotiating Parisian traffic a terrible idea? Check out the video to find out!

About the author

Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.