New Citroën e-C3: The cheapest full-sized electric car on sale?
Priced from just £22,000 – with a £17,250 version soon to follow – the e-C3 is Citroën’s 2CV for the 21st century.
As the story goes, the original car of the people (Citroën’s 2CV) was designed to carry four people and a basket of eggs across a plowed field at 30 mph without cracking a single shell or upsetting the occupants. And, while the new e-C3’s objective might be less oddly specific, it promises to revolutionise affordable EV motoring much in the same way Deux-Cheveaux did for combustion travel.
In a world where very few proper sub-£30,000 electric cars exist (let alone sub-£20,000 ones) the notion that you could get a full-sized EV capable of a reasonable range and seating five in comfort from just £17,250, is one which should surely chime with a huge audience.
According to Citroën the e-C3 is ‘The First European Affordable Electric Car’ and is said to offer ‘An Easy Electric Life’. Sounds intriguing, right? Well, the salient facts are these: a 44-kWh battery pack (in the £22,000 launch model) provides a usable range of just under 200 miles. It won’t take long to charge either. Thanks to 100 kw DC fast charging, 20 to 80 % can be achieved in just 26 minutes.
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It's no hot-rod: just one 111 bhp motor propels the front wheels to achieve a lethargic 11 second 0-60 mph time and 84 mph flat out. On the flipside, unlike previous budget-spec EVs like the Ami and Topolino, this means motorway journeys are not only legal, but comfortable too.
Helping to ensure the e-C3 delivers the ‘magic carpet ride’ of its predecessors, Citroën will also fit Advanced Comfort® suspension with hydraulic bump stops as standard. This two-stage system should be able to negotiate cobbled city streets with ease and ‘give the impression that the car is gliding when driving over uneven ground.’
There’s more to shout about on the inside. A head-up display comes at no extra cost, as do the suite of driver assistance features and built-in smartphone holder with NFC technology. In true French style, clever cubbies are also abundant with stowage available in the door panels, center console, and under the armrest.
So, what’s the catch? Well, it’s not exactly going to rival Rolls-Royce for interior quality or material choice, but you do get what you pay for — and a fair bit more besides. A more realistic criticism would be the lack of a heat pump to combat battery range drop-off in colder temperatures. Citroen argues this was a conscious, cost-saving measure, and for the shorter journeys for which the e-C3 is likely to mostly be used, it’s probably a justifiable compromise.
For those looking for true bargain basement deals, Citroen has also reportedly engineered the e-C3 with an ICE powertrain in mind. This means an even cheaper Dacia Sandero rival could be on the cards, although there is no word yet whether this, or the circa £17,000 EV version, will be coming to the UK next year with the rest of the line-up. Either way, Citroen’s ingenious new EV could well be the key to unlocking electric travel for those who can’t afford the lofty asking prices of established competitors.
Do you think the e-C3 will appeal more to British buyers than some of the lesser-known Chinese alternatives?
Hero image credit: Citroën