• Citroen  Ë-C3: First Drive Review

Citroen's first EV for India has lofty ambitions. Does it deliver though?

Citroen is all set to launch its first EV in India and as expected, it is the  Ë-C3, based on the C3 hatchback which came here last year with two petrol powertrains. It enters a highly-sought after segment which currently includes just another electric hatchback -the Tata Tiago EV. Like its ICE cousin, the all-new Citroen  Ë-C3 is an interesting prospect and is set to add colour to the segment.

Design-wise, it is hard to differentiate between the petrol-powered C3 and the  Ë-C3 given their similar bodyshell and styling. In fact, the only two things that set them both apart are the badging and the charging port that sits above the right front wheel. The Citroen eC3 has a good road presence given its SUV-inspired styling. This will work in its favour, especially when pitted against its only hatchback competitor, the Tata Tiago EV. 

The Citroen  Ë-C3 manages to further stand out from the competition with its customisation options. It features three new exclusive customisation packs, two interior themes, 47 customisation options and over 70 accessories. The  Ë-C3 is large and with its rugged styling, it's surprising that Citroen is not marketing it as a mini-SUV, a highly sought-after buzzword in the current automotive scenario. 

The large dimensions also translate to a spacious cabin and quite the usable 315-litre boot thanks to the battery pack mounted below the floorboard. This allows engineers to conventionally package the spare wheel in the boot itself. 

While the fit and finish levels could be better, the interior plastics have a robust feel and should last a long time without rattling. The Citroen  Ë-C3 impresses on the features front. It gets a 10.2-inch smartphone-friendly infotainment system which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and My Citroen connect which packs in 36 smart features. My Citroen Connect also packs in some unique individualistic features such as driving behaviour analysis and usage-based insurance parameters. 

One of the most important questions revolving around an EV is its range and the  Ë-C3 does not disappoint either. Its lithium iron phosphate battery pack delivers a claimed range of 320 kilometres, enough for an inter-city trip. The  Ë-C3 also supports 100 percent DC fast-charging with an estimated 10 percent to 80 percent charging time of under an hour.

The battery pack even supports 15amp home charging with an estimated 10 to 100 percent charge time of 10.5 hours. Citroen will be setting up fast chargers at its La Maison dealerships and these chargers are brand agnostic i.e customers with other brand EVs can use them as well. That's a welcome move and should help make a better EV ecosystem. 

The Citroen  Ë-C3 is powered by a PMSM powertrain that delivers 57PS and 143Nm. Citroen claims a 0-60kmph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 107kmph for the  Ë-C3.

While the top speed might seem underwhelming for a hatchback, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the  Ë-C3 reached there. The peppy motor offers good performance post 60kmph and its enthusiasm does not seem to taper off even post 80kmph. While most buyers will use the  Ë-C3 for city duties, the electric hatchback is not averse to the occasional highway runs. 

We got to drive the  Ë-C3 at the WABCO proving grounds so our driving experience was limited to the test track. However, it did give us a taste of  Ë-C3's dynamics at high speeds. The floor-mounted battery pack lowers the centre of gravity and helps offer more stability at high speeds. Again the smooth surfaces made it difficult to gauge the ride quality but given Citroen's penchant for making comfortable cars and the C3 having exceptional ride quality, we'd expect the  Ë-C3 to follow suit. While the hatchback handles well, I would have liked more feedback from the steering wheel as it feels lifeless off-centre. It brakes well with battery regeneration kicking in seamlessly. 

The Citroen  Ë-C3 is set to launch this month itself with the electric hatchback set to reach showrooms by February. Pricing remains key given the competition's aggressive price tag though Citroen is bullish about its after-sales service and warranty plans too. The  Ë-C3 will be available with an impressive warranty plan. Citroen is offering a seven-year/1.4 lakh kilometre warranty on the battery, five-year/one lakh kilometre on the electric motor and three year/1.25 lakh kilometres on the vehicle. It even gets extended warranty options which will be disclosed at launch. 

Besides this, the Citroen service promise includes virtual remote diagnosis, service cost estimate on the website, 180-minute Roadside Service assistance guarantee and service on wheels. 

The French carmaker plans to expand its showroom footprint this year from 30 to 75 dealerships across India as well. That coupled with the  Ë-C3's standout styling, good build quality, feature-packed interiors and likeable powertrain could make it an electrified favourite among the younger crowd.

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