Citroën ë-C3 Review: The Good Compromise the French Market Needed

Citroën ë-C3 Review: The Good Compromise the French Market Needed
Citroën ë-C3 Review: The Good Compromise the French Market Needed

The Citroën ë-C3 is one of the electric models expected by customers for its attractive price, starting at €23,300. How is this new electric model worth on the road? Numerama was able to test it.

The announcement of the Citroën ë-C3 in October 2023 has sparked a certain wave of enthusiasm. Its price of less than €30,000 is no stranger to all this. Is the model really up to the task of relaunching Citroën on the electric car market? It had to be put to the road to judge. That’s what we did with the Max version at €27,800.

Overall, the first driving impressions are quite good. However, Citroën took a rather risky gamble by testing poorly finalized pre-series models almost 4 months before the first deliveries to customers. The test models did not have any driving aids and a few other known bugs: this was clearly stated to us before we were allowed to take the wheel, with the promise that everything would be corrected for customer deliveries. The first post-delivery feedback will therefore be followed with interest to validate our impressions.

Citroën ë-C3 exterior design: a trompe-l’oeil with an SUV look

Citroën has decided to make a fairly radical departure from the previous generation with its rounded design. The model takes up all the stylistic codes of the SUV, but it is still a versatile city car according to the French manufacturer. The model is 4.01 m long, or 2 cm more than the old model. The ground clearance has increased by 10 cm. The Citroën ë-C3 is now 1.57 m high (without the roof bars of the Max finish).

Despite appearances, the ë-C3 is only 4.01 m long // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Aesthetically, everything gives the illusion of a slightly more luxurious model. The design teams knew how to play with materials to give this car character. It’s pretty clever for a car that has to limit expenses. The whole thing is quite successful, whether or not we like this all-SUV trend.

Interior: Citroën keeps up the good work with its ë-C3

Here again, the teams in charge of the project had to deal with a tight budget, but the result is nevertheless quite pleasing to the eye. There is creativity to create a space that invites comfort and stands out from the competition. Inevitably, hard plastics and lacquered black elements (piano black) are everywhere in the cabin, it is difficult to avoid them in this price range.

Citroën ë-C3 review // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Compared to its main rival, the Dacia Spring, the Citroën ë-C3 is a cut above. The imitation textile covering of the dashboard is original and above all, the seats are comfortable. The basic version, called You, offers a little less comfort in terms of seats, but it is still very correct for an entry-level model.

Finition You

Max Finish

The shape of the steering wheel and the small instrument display, for the main driving information, will delight those who want a different environment. The driving indications are well positioned and sufficient for driving.

The 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which equips the Max version, has the merit of existing. However, the panel is very glossy, visibility can quickly be impaired. As for the on-board system, it takes us back a few years. It makes you wonder if the You version, without a central screen, but with a smartphone clip and a dedicated application, is not more relevant in this car.

A real mirror this 10.25″ slab // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

There is one small element that confused me a little during the test: even if the seat is at a good height to facilitate access on board, the center of the seat is a good distance from the door sill, difficult to sit down without having your calves pressed against the bodywork. For a car that is also aimed at slightly older people, it will be necessary to check the accessibility with this target clientele.

Engine and road handling of the Citroën ë-C3: a pleasant surprise

A more affordable electric car does not necessarily have to imply restricted performance. This was the main criticism of the first generation of the Dacia Spring. The Citroën ë-C3 does much better. With its 113 hp, acceleration and recovery are not amorphous. The car also does not bring fears to venture on the highway, it easily goes up to 130 km / h. Consumption will however necessarily be impacted and the rolling noise will be very present, it is still more comfortable on the secondary network.

Test of the Citroën ë-C3 in a two-tone black & white configuration // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

In terms of road holding, this Citroën ë-C3 is far from ridiculous either. While the car will not forgive excessive optimism about the speed of entering a bend on winding roads, the chassis is rigorous enough not to cause unnecessary scares. At the right pace, the model appears to be a very good compromise for this price range.

Comfort is still a point that bothers me a little. The seats are soft, but I found the cushioning a little hard. It’s still more comfortable than in other low-budget electric models, but less so than in the brand’s other vehicles.

Embedded technologies: to be judged later

Customers of this Citroën ë-C3 will certainly not buy it for its technological equipment, even less for those who opt for the You finish at €23,300. The test did not allow us to test the model’s driving aids, as we indicated at the beginning of the article.

Citroën ë-C3: the small instrument screen is very basic but effective // ​​Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

It’s also hard to judge the infotainment system: it didn’t seem completely finished. In any case, you have to expect a rather rustic and no-frills approach.

Charging and autonomy of the Citroën ë-C3: encouraging results

The Citroën ë-C3 stands out from its competitors by integrating a fast charge of up to 100 kW on all finishes. The test planned by the brand did not allow the battery to be drained sufficiently to test the charging curve. But the rest of the group’s electric vehicles all have this level of fast charging, so theoretically there should be no unpleasant surprises at this level.

This test loop gives 13 kWh/100 km // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

On consumption, this model will of course deserve longer tests to put it to the test. The mixed route of about a hundred kilometers (city, countryside, hilly road, small section of highway) on which I tested the car gave me a consumption of 13 kWh/100 km, which would be particularly encouraging for the model.

The WLTP autonomy of the model is given as 326 km, which is quite consistent with these first observations. But it remains to be confirmed in a slightly less clement context. On the other hand, do not count too much on regenerative braking to gain kilometers of autonomy, it is quite light and does not seem to bring a real differentiating element to the model.

Price and competition: the queen of the moment

The price is the main advantage of this new model. It is one of the most affordable electric models of the moment, knowing that the ë-C3 can benefit from the ecological bonus of €4,000 (or even €7,000 for some households). Two versions are currently on sale:

  • the You version from €23,300 (or €99/month)
  • the Max version from €27,800 (€179/month)
Citroën ë-C3 in entry-level finish // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Of course, the main competitor is obvious: the Dacia Spring. Even if the Dacia is a little cheaper at the catalog price, it will not benefit from the state aid granted, because it is produced in China. The technical sheet of the Dacia also places it a little behind, a good point for the ë-C3.

Other affordable models should arrive in the coming months from Hyundai and Kia, and certainly from Chinese manufacturers like Leapmotor or BYD. We will have to see if the equipment and technology aspect does not tip the scales towards these future models. In the meantime, the Citroën ë-C3 can benefit from it, the entry-level Renault 5 is not yet there to turn away customers.

Citroën ë-C3 review // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

This Citroën ë-C3 inaugurates the Stellantis Smart Car platform that will equip other affordable versions such as the Citroën ë-C3 Aircross, Opel Frontera or Fiat Grande Panda. Finally, the biggest competition for this model is likely to come from its own group. Since the technical specifications of its cousins ​​will be quite similar, it is on the design and the price that the conquest of the market could be played out. This is the disadvantage of the Stellantis group’s clone strategy, they cannibalize each other within the group.

The verdict

We liked

  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Good road behavior overall
  • Versatility
  • First positive impression for consumption and recharging

We liked less

  • Embedded technologies are a big question mark
  • The suspension adjustment is not to my inner ear’s liking
  • Reliability that will need to be monitored

Citroën has kept the promises made at the launch of the model. This ë-C3 is a nice surprise. The exterior and interior styling is quite nice for this price range. It is mainly the road handling that widens the gap with what we know in this price range. It easily exceeds the performance of the Dacia Spring. It can even boast of offering a certain versatility, including considering longer journeys. For its price, the car could deserve a higher rating, but the limits of the affordable car are still quickly visible. In addition, the somewhat limited test and the bugs of these (pre-production) models that have barely been finalized do not allow us to fully judge the car. Too bad!



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