Citroën has presented “the first affordable European electric car.” With its technical specifications, a range of 320 kilometers, and a price of € 23 300, the ë-C3 will indeed set standards. In Flanders, considering the premium of € 5 000 for individual buyers, the car will cost € 18 300 in 2024.
The model could become very popular in Europe, mainly because the price is affordable and the technology doesn’t lag behind the competition. A range of 320 kilometers, according to WLTP (in the combined cycle, not in the pure city cycle), for this price wasn’t available until now.
For urban and suburban traffic
The ë-C3 is not yet based on the upcoming small car platform SLTA Small but on a version of the flexible global ‘CMP Smart Car’ platform from Stellantis. However, it is not the eCMP known from other models, which is too expensive.
As expected, the ë-C3 uses a less expensive LFP battery (lithium-iron-phosphate). The battery pack has an energy content of 44 kWh. In addition, the ë-C3 can be charged at a peak of up to 100 kW, and the French company states that the charging process from 20 to 80 % takes about 26 minutes.
On the AC side, charging is possible with 11 kW. It should take 2 hours and 50 minutes to charge from 20 to 80%. If only single-phase charging with up to 7 kW is possible, it supposedly takes around four hours.
An 83 kW electric motor provides the drive. It takes eleven seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 100 kph; the top speed is 135 kph. The driving characteristics are undoubtedly less vivid than in other, much more expensive EVs, but Citroën sees them as sufficient “to cope with daily journeys and traffic, especially in urban and suburban traffic”.
Compared to the other, still scarce models in this price range, Citroën offers decent values. In addition, there is networked navigation via the new ‘ë-ROUTES App’, which is supposed to shorten driving times and provide live data on the charging network.
Despite its price, the ë-C3 is not intended to be an economy model. In the press release, the French company emphasized the driving comfort typical of the brand. All versions of the C3 get the so-called ‘Citroën Advanced Comfort’ suspension (with special shock absorbers) and the ‘Citroën Advanced Comfort’ seats.
“Comfort is a key part of Citroën’s DNA. It’s very important to us because it’s very important to our customers. That’s why we have gone to extraordinary lengths to make the all-new ë-C3 the most comfortable car in the B-hatch segment,” says Laurence Hansen, Director of Product and Strategy at Citroën.
The new C3 is 19 millimeters longer and six millimeters wider than its predecessor. However, at 1,57 meters in height and with an SUV-like body, it sits significantly higher than before. This should make it easier to get in and out but also increase comfort when driving over bumps, curbs, and potholes. Ground clearance is 163 millimeters, up from 135 millimeters.
No instrument cluster
This should ensure more space throughout, with headroom and elbow room increasing noticeably, according to Citroën. However, the spaciousness is not the most striking innovation of the ë-C3. Citroën has dispensed with a classic instrument cluster in the new model.
Instead, a new Citroën Head-Up Display is used for the first time, projecting vehicle information onto a glossy black area between the dashboard’s top edge and the windscreen’s bottom edge.
The compact new multifunction steering wheel is smaller and can be adjusted in height and distance, helping to keep the Citroën Head-Up Display in view during operation. In the dashboard’s center is a 10,25-inch infotainment touchscreen that can also be used with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Citroën refers to the interior as the “C-Zen Lounge”.
Two versions, maybe three later
For the 23 300 euros mentioned at the beginning, there is the so-called ‘You’ basic model. This comes as standard with front LED headlights, Citroën Advanced Comfort suspension, Active Safety Brake (emergency braking system), the new Citroën Head-Up Display, infotainment with smartphone integration, electric door mirrors, automatic lights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, air conditioning, and six airbags.
The other, more luxurious version is called ‘Max’. It adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a two-tone paint finish with contrasting roof, LED tail lights, Citroën Advanced Comfort seats, tinted rear side windows & rear window, automatic climate control, a reversing camera, the 10,25-inch color touchscreen with wireless connectivity to Apple Carplay and Android Auto, 3D navigation, wireless charging, a leather-look steering wheel, and a 60/40 folding rear bench seat. An optional ‘Winter Package’ offers a windscreen, front seats, and steering wheel, all heated.
With these two versions, the ë-C3 will arrive at dealers in spring 2024. In 2025, a version should follow with a range of 200 kilometers for € 19 990. There are no further details on this as yet.
One thing is clear: the demand for an affordable electric car is there, and other manufacturers like VW (with the ID.2) and Renault (with the electric 5) will take a little longer to come to the market, especially Volkswagen. Citroën is undoubtedly hoping for sales success, being a forerunner.
“Our mission is to build the Citroën presence in Europe to at least 5% share of the European market. The addition early in 2024 of the affordable all-new, all-electric ë-C3 to our portfolio is a key enabler to achieving that roadmap,” said Citroën CEO Thierry Koskas.
“All-new ë-C3 also plays a major role in further strengthening Citroën’s accessible electrification program, complementing the arrival of our new extended range ë-C4 and ë-C4X models, as well as the unique mobility solution that is the Citroën Ami,” he added.
In the second half of next year, the new Fiat Panda EV will join the ranks. Being part of the same Stellantis Group, this small and affordable Fiat will be technically almost identical to the ë-C3. Undoubtedly, the prices will be at the same level.