In February 2023, yet another ‘affordable’ electric car will be launched in India. Expected to be priced about Rs 10 lakh, the Citroën eC3 is based on the C3 hatchback the French carmaker launched in 2022. We recently drove it.
What is the eC3?
It’s the C3 turned electric, i.e. the petrol C3’s engine has been replaced with an electric motor, a battery pack, and the associated mechanical changes. It has the ‘ë’ logo on the body, doesn’t have a tailpipe, and there is a charging port on the right fender (above the front tyre).
How is the cabin?
It has a spacious (although extravagantly flashy) cabin, especially in the variant with the orange-coloured dashboard panel. The flat-bottom steering wheel looks sporty and increases the space between the wheel and the driver’s seat, making it easier to enter and exit.
It has a 10-inch infotainment screen (compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it has the Mirror Screen technology to duplicate the functions of a smartphone), but the instrument panel (behind the steering wheel) looks way too basic.
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The seating area is huge for a car of this size, thanks to its large wheelbase of 2,540 mm (longer than Tata Tiago EV’s 2,400 mm).
How does it drive?
It’s got a battery pack of 29.2 kWh, claimed driving range of 320 km, and claimed acceleration of 0-60 km/h in 6.8 seconds (slower than Tiago EV’s 5.7 seconds).
According to my rough test, it went from 0-100 km/h in about 16 seconds.
Ride quality is its forte. The car appears to sail over potholes, and overall offers a plush ride. It has a turning radius of less than 5 metres, making it just the right car for driving in narrow streets and mall parking.
But the top speed has been electronically limited to 107 km/h—perhaps to save battery from draining fast. If you’re driving on a two-lane highway from one city to another, and must overtake a bus or a truck going at 100 km/h, and suddenly you see oncoming traffic approaching fast, a speed limiter can be catastrophic, because you won’t be able to touch 110-120 km/h needed to overtake in time!
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But for city usage, it appears to be the right car. The claimed driving range in 320 km, and when I got the test unit at 98% battery charge, it showed 260 km range, which is good enough for driving in any city from Monday to Friday. The 3.3 kW on-board charger can top up the battery in 10.5 hours. Also, unlike most electric cars that have liquid battery cooling mechanism, the eC3 has an air-cooled battery—the carmaker said it’s been tested for the hottest weather conditions.
Some features are missing, such as auto-dimming cabin mirror, automatic climate control, cruise control and rear camera, but it is precisely here that Citroën can cut costs.
The eC3 is crucial for Citroën
Citroën, the brand, is still French to Indians, and the eC3 will be crucial for enhancing the brand presence of the carmaker. But for that, the eC3 has to be very accessible. Its price will be announced in February, and if Citroën is able to slot it between the Tiago EV medium range (Rs 8.49-9.09 lakh) and the Tiago EV long range (Rs 9.99-11.79 lakh), it can hope to get a decent response from buyers. It has a bigger battery pack and longer range, but the brand has a much longer way to go.
Battery: 29.2 kWh
Driving range: 320 km
Power: 57 PS (42 kW)
Torque: 143 Nm
0-60 km/h: 6.8 seconds
0-100 km/h: About 16 seconds
Top speed: 107 km/h
Charging time: 10.5 hours (home charging)
Charging time: 57 minutes (DC fast charger)
Expected price: Rs 9-10 lakh (ex-showroom)
Tata Tiago EV
Medium range: 19.2 kWh, 250 km, Rs 8.49 lakh, 0-60 km/h in 6.2 seconds
Long range: 24 kWh, 315 km, Rs 9.99 lakh, 0-60 km/h in 5.7 seconds
Tata Tigor EV
26 kWh, 315 km, Rs 12.49 lakh, 0-60 km/h in 5.7 seconds