Citroen e‑C3 will be the UK's cheapest electric car
Citroen says the new e-C3 will be the cheapest "full-sized" EV on sale in the UK when the car hits our shores next year, priced from £22,000 and boasting a 199-mile electric range.
While the e-C3 shares a similar ethos to the 2CV – built to provide cheap and reliable (and, in this case, electric) transport to the masses – it has very little of the peasant car’s characteristic flare.
The e-C3 is based on the Brazilian C3 made for Latin and Indian markets (and infamous for securing a zero rating in the former NCAP safety testing). Standard features like automatic emergency brakes and a bolstered structure should improve that score in the UK.
Still, if you're looking for a cheap EV, the e-C3 delivers – it's more than £10,000 cheaper than a Peugeot e-208 that's comparable in size. Part of that is down to its cheap Lithium Ferro Phosphate battery which is heavier and uses less precious metals than a lithium-ion alternative. It's also more susceptible to cold weather, and, in the name of cutting costs, does without an efficiency-boosting heat pump.
In the e-C3, the battery's 44kWh capacity is good for a range of 199 miles and can be charged from 20-80 percent in 26 minutes using a DC fast charger. Power comes from a front-mounted electric motor producing 113PS for 0-62mph in "around" 11 seconds and a top speed of 84mph.
If it was in doubt, performance isn't really what the e-C3 is all about. Instead, it gets Citroen Advanced Comfort suspension with hydraulic cushions on either end of the shock absorber designed to take the edge off bumps and rebounds. It's a system that works – albeit at great expense to body control – on the company's other cars.
There are more concessions to comfort on the inside, where you'll find thick-foamed seats (on Max models) that should catch any intrusions not muffled by the suspension.
Citroen claims the e-C3's relatively tall body (1.75m) means it is roomier than its ICE-powered predecessor in "almost every dimension", and you get a cabin stuffed full of storage spaces, including a large open bin running the length of the dashboard. The 310-litre boot also has 10 litres on the boot in the old C3.
While built to a price, there's a back-to-basics charm to the e-C3's fabric trim pieces and twin-spoke steering wheel, and all models come equipped with a quirky head-up display that beams its information onto a shiny strip of black plastic trim.
You get two models to choose from – ‘You’ and ‘Max’. 'You' models are the most basic and do without a proper infotainment system, relying on a Volkswagen Up-like smartphone docking station that's likely functional if not visually appealing. Standard kit includes electrically operated door mirrors, electric front windows, rear parking sensors, cruise control and air conditioning. 'You' models are easily spotted by their plastic-trimmed 16-inch wheels.
'Max' versions are smarter on the outside – thanks to their diamond-cut 17-inch wheels, LED tail lights and tinted rear windows – and on the inside, where you get a proper 10.25-inch infotainment screen with built-in navigation. Useful additional kit includes smartphone mirroring, auto wipers, electric mirrors that fold and are heated, 60:40 split rear seats, wireless charging, electric rear windows, climate control and a reversing camera.
In time, the e-C3 will spawn a cheaper low-range electric model capable of around 125 miles on a charge, while a cheaper petrol version will also follow – more on those later.