Citroen eC3 Electric Car Review: The Sensible EV?

Citroen’s eC3 seem to have bridged the chasm between EVs and regular cars, but is that all? This is the third time we have driven the C3 in the past year, so we clearly know what the C3 is by now.

By Dhruv Paliwal | on January 21, 2023 Follow us on Autox Google News

Citroen’s eC3 seem to have bridged the chasm between EVs and regular cars, but is that all?

This is the third time we have driven the C3 in the past year, so we clearly know what the C3 is by now. In short, it’s a small hatchback (Citroen’s words) that aims to offer comfort, practicality, and a bit of French flair with its quirky design to customers of the budget cars segment. Now, the eC3’s aim also is pretty much the same, except for the fact that it’s an electric alternative for those on a strict budget. At the time of writing this review, we still don’t know how Citroen is will price the eC3, but we can safely say it’s going to be a budget offering. Will it undercut the Tiago.ev? Well, that’s a question for another day, for the price of the eC3 will be revealed next month in February. So, let’s not waste any more time and get back into the driver’s seat and find out how does the eC3 drive.

Citroen EC3 Front Three Quarter Motion 2

Is it electric?

Well, no. Yes, it has an electric powertrain underneath its bonnet, but if I were to put you in the driver’s seat without telling you that it’s an electric car, you would hardly notice any difference. There is no instant torque madness, that we have come to expect from EVs, and it behaves more like a studious kid who sits in the first row in a class rather than back-benchers who often disrupt the class with their antics. And that’s a good thing. Most people looking to buy an EV on a budget want a quiet driving experience that doesn’t require them to relearn how to drive a car.

So, if the eC3 is the first electric car you drive, you will hardly notice any difference over regular internal combustion cars. That’s not to say the eC3 is outrightly slow. There’s an Eco mode on offer as well, and all it does is slightly alter your throttle response. The 107 km/h top speed remains the same, which, I personally think, is quite a limitation. You will face no problems in urban environments, but on fast-flowing highways, you will very quickly start feeling like a sitting duck.

Citroen EC3 Interior

Is it exciting around corners?

Well, yes and no. Let’s start with the latter first. To be honest, the eC3 is 300kgs heavier than the regular C3, and that’s a lot for a small car. Now, Citroen has placed the heaviest component, the battery pack, under the floor of the car. It keeps the weight of the car low down – at the cost of the floor height, which is now 70mm higher and reduces the under-thigh support for rear passengers – which means that even though you feel the weight, it doesn’t really scare you or throw you off-line in a corner. The steering is a tad bit heavier as well and can feel vague at certain points. To be fair though, Citroen has nailed the braking, as the pedal feels exactly like that of an internal combustion engine car. There’s no sponginess that you usually associate with EVs with regen. Speaking of regen, there are no multiple settings, but you get regen once you lift off the throttle. It feels well-calibrated and the way you slow down after lifting off the throttle feels very natural.

Citroen EC3 Climate Control

Now, it’s time to tell you how much fun the Citroen eC3 is around corners. You see, the eC3 behaves so much like a regular car that you can play around with it while attacking corners. Step on the gas, and you get understeer, which is very helpful if you want to widen your line through a corner. But with EVs, the understeer can be a little too much sometimes. That, however, is not the case with the eC3 – it’s quite predictable in the way it behaves. The second thing, and my personal favourite, is lift-off oversteer. Very rarely do you come across a budget car that genuinely has lift-off oversteer, and even though it’s mild, it’s enough to put a grin on your face. While the science might not be perfect here, there is still a lot of weight transfer when you get off the throttle, given the heavy nature of the eC3. This means that if you reduce the throttle input mid-corner or downright lift-off, the weight shifting away from the rear makes it very fidgety, and you feel that it wants to come around. It’s not unsafe in any manner because the movement feels very controlled, and that’s what makes it a lot of fun.

What about charging?

The Citroen eC3 has an ARAI claimed range of 320km, but that number is going to be way lower in the real world. And since we drove the eC3 on the track, in a controlled environment, I would like to refrain from making any decisive comment about its real-world range, for the range numbers you get on the track will have no meaning in the real world. Charging, however, is a different thing altogether. You get a portable charger with the car, which can be easily plugged into a 15amp socket and allows the eC3 to top up its batteries from 10 to 100 per cent in 10 hours and 30 minutes. You also get the option of DC fast charging, which allows you to top the batteries from 20 to 80 per cent in just 57 minutes. Fast chargers will be available at Citroen dealerships. But, let’s face it, most people will charge the car at their home most of the time, and one overnight charge should be enough to keep it going for the next three to four days.

Citroen EC3 EV AC Charger

Is that all?

For now, yes. You see, having driven the eC3 on the track, we are in no position to judge it in terms of aspects like ride quality or real-world range. For that, you will have to wait until we get to drive the eC3 in the real world. Based on what we have experienced so far, the eC3 will be a good budget offering. What can make it even better? Well, the pricing, obviously – especially if it can match the least expensive EV in India, or even undercut it. The latter would make it an instant hit.

  • Citroen eC3

Motor: Single PMS

Battery: 29.2kWh / Li-ion

Transmission: Single-Speed / Front-Wheel Drive

Power: 56bhp

Torque: 143Nm

Price: TBA

X-Factor:  A budget EV that looks good enough to stand out in a crowd.

• Stylish looks
• Touchscreen quality
• Braking feel

• Performance
• Rear seat under-thigh support

Also read:

Citroen eC3 EV Debuts in India; What To Expect?

Top Hatchbacks to Launch in India; Citroen eC3, MG Air EV and More

Tags: Citroen Citroen eC3

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