Citroen eC3 First Drive Review - Electric Chic For The Masses

When Citroen entered India with the C5 Aircross, the French carmaker brought its quirky sense of style and focus on comfort to our roads.

Last year, it brought that French styling and comfort-focused ride to the masses with the C3 crossover hatchback. At the time of the C3's launch, the French carmaker told the world that the new hatch would soon spawn an all-electric version of itself.

Well fast forward a few months and Citroen has made good on its promise. The French carmaker has turned up with an all-electric version of its hatchback for the Indian market, dubbed simply as the Citroen eC3.

So is the Citroen eC3 all that it has been hyped up to be? Does the French Citroen eC3 have what it takes to challenge Tata in this electric punchup for the hearts of the masses? We drove the all-new Citroen eC3 in Chennai to find out...

Citroen eC3 Design & Features - More Of The Same Please With Teeny Bit More Contrast

If you put the new Citroen eC3 next to its dino-burning sibling (the one without the e in the name) you'd be hard-pressed to find out what has changed.

While some may call this sleeping on the job, the French carmaker has decided that the C3's design didn't need to be messed around with for the transformation into its all-electric city runner.

At the front, the twin chevrons of the Citroen badge are connected to the split headlamp setup with the upper bars meeting up with the DRLs while the lower arms end in more DRLs that sit next to the actual headlamps.

Lower down on the front bumper on the black plastic-clad section of the bumper, we find the fog lamps which on the eC3 feature a new colour for the surrounds in the form of Polar White.

Polar White is the colour of choice for the new eC3 with for its new dual-tone themes. The three new dual-tone colour options for the eC3 sport a Polar White roof with the rest of the body finished in either Zesty Orange, Platinum Grey or Steel Grey. In fact, the Polar white surrounds and roof along with all the custom bits that were already seen on the regular C3 mean that the new electric hatch is offered up in 13 exterior colour combinations, 3 packs, and 47 customisations.

The polar white Vibe pack surrounds can be found on the doors as well close to which we find our other bits that help you in your quest to find which C3 is electric. The easiest of these is the small 'e' badge on both front doors.

The other EV-only design highlight is found in the door for the charging port which is located above the front wheel arch on the right. Citroen has retained the C3's fuel filler cap but that section is sealed off. The reason that wasn't retrofitted for the charging port has to do with both the extra wiring needed and the heat generated by the same.

The rear section of the eC3 is virtually identical to its ICe sibling with only the contrast surrounds on the lower bumper and the roof in the dual-tone cars and the eC3 badging at the rear letting the world know that you're in an EV. Well, that and your green plates.

Step inside the cabin of the eC3 and its deja vu all over again. Well, that is until you start wondering where the gear lever disappeared. Instead of a regular shifter, Citroen has put in a toggle switch to help you get the eC3 into drive. Also seen next to this lever is the button to switch the eC3 into Eco mode.

However, don't let the lack of changes lull you into thinking the eC3 is boring. The cabin is as spacious as ever and the dash can be finished off in an eye-searing shade of orange provided you choose the 'right' Vibe pack for the interior. We rather prefer the soothing Anodized Grey.

At the centre of the dash sits the eC3's 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen that connects with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly. That display is also what connects up with the MyCitroen Connect app that adds 35 connected car features and also helps the eC3 find vitally important chargers on your route along with the charge status of the battery on the go. Other features include geofencing, the ability to locate your car in just one tap and SOS alerts if someone else tries to access your car illegally among many others.

The seats are as comfortable as ever on the eC3. However, those at the rear will find themselves in a slightly more thigh-up position as the addition of the battery pack means that the floor is around 70mm higher on the EV.

However, one thing the added battery pack hasn't messed up is the boot space. You still get the same 315-litre boot space and the full-sized spare has been retained as well on the EV.

Citroen eC3 Electric Powertrain - No More Dino Burning

The biggest change in the Citroen eC3 of course comes under the bonnet and the hatchback's floor. The dino burner of the C3 makes for a BEV powertrain in the eC3.

Underneath the floor of the eC3 sits an air-cooled (hence the open ventage at the front) 29.2kwh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers a range of 320km on a single charge as per the MIDC test cycle.

The eC3 supports the CCS2 fast charging standard. So when plugged into a DC fast charger, the eC3 will charge up its lithium-ion pack from 10 to 80 per cent in just 57 minutes. Charging with the 3.3kW on-board charger plugged into a 15A socket at home takes 10 and a half hours.

The addition of the battery pack means a nearly 280kg increase in the weight of the electric hatch when compared to its iCE sibling - the eC3 is 1,316kg at its heaviest. The ground clearance has also dropped by 10mm to 170mm.

The battery pack powers a single electric motor mounted on the front axle of the eC3. The motor is rated at 56.2bhp and 143Nm of peak torque.

Citroen is offering substantial warranties on the eC3. The entire car gets the standard 3-year/ 125,000km dosage. The motor is under warranty for 5 years/ 100,000km while the battery pack gets 7 years/ 140,000km warranty.

Citroen eC3 Driving Impressions - Casting A Silent Spell

The first thing you notice (after that tiny gear toggle) when you get going in the eC3 is the silence the electric drivetrain provides. The overall NVH levels are better than the ICE C3.

While the eC3 may be the least powerful of the C3 lineup, the 143Nm of peak torque is available right from the start. However, there is no punch-in-the-guts acceleration on offer as the eC3 prefers to get off the blocks smoothly with the electric hatch building up speed gradually till it tops out at 107km/h. We really do think that the Citroen eC3 has a bit more to offer in terms of top speed but this was quite likely sacrificed on the alter of range.

There are two modes on offer - Eco and Standard. However, the difference between the two isn't really that much and you'll find yourself in Standard in almost every circumstance except if you want to engage in hypermiling.

As we found ourselves on the smooth tarmac of the Wabco test track in Chennai, we couldn't really find any potholes to test out the changes if any that Citroen has made to the C3's smooth suspension setup to deal with the extra weight of the electric battery pack in the EV.

However, that extra weight of the battery pack and the low centre of gravity of the eC3 means that the hatch remains planted when you push it through the corners. However, a little bit of body roll is still noticeable so don't try to push your luck on the streets.

Getting the eC3 to stop are discs at the front and drums at the rear that are aided by the regenerative braking of the eC3. While the regen braking does slow the eC3 down by quite a bit, it was still not enough to convince Citroen to add one pedal driving to the hatch. The brake pedal is a bit of a bugbear, as the travel is a bit too long for our tastes and getting used to the lack of initial bite is something that takes time to get used to.

Thoughts About The Citroen eC3 - A Quirky French EV for the Masses

The Citroen eC3 retains all the good qualities of its ICE sibling and adds the peace, quiet and green creds of an EV powertrain to the hatch. We still need a bit more time with the eC3 to test out its range, but we do feel that Citroen could have a genuine rival for the Tata Tiago EV on its hands, provided it gets the pricing right.

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Article Published On: Saturday, January 21, 2023, 11:32 [IST]
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