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Citroen C-Zero

French firm re-badges Mitsubishi to get its first electric model. Is it a hit on UK roads?

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Anyone who is expecting Citroen’s first electric motor to be a revolution will be disappointed. However, the C-ZERO does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a zero-emissions city car that has enough punch for town driving. It’s well equipped and will seat four in relative comfort and safety, too. Only the high asking price, expected to be around £25,000, is a disappointment. But for the local authorities and fleets Citroen is primarily targeting, that shouldn’t be too much of a turn-off.

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Most car makers would like to add an electric vehicle to their line-ups. But fulfilling such an objective isn’t easy – unless a company you share a product with has already done the hard work.

So for Citroen, extending its relationship with Mitsubishi to re-badge the Japanese maker’s electric city car must have been a no-brainer. The result is the C-ZERO – a new version of the zero-emission i-MiEV.

And re-badged is the best way to describe it. While Citroen has replaced Mitsubishi’s three diamonds with its own double chevrons on the bonnet, in every other way the C-ZERO is visually identical to its Japanese cousin.

It looks oddly narrow on the road, but there’s plenty of room for four adults inside. And even though a 47kW electric motor sits beneath the load space, there’s still a 166-litre boot.

Power
The motor draws its power from 88 lithium-ion cells stowed beneath the floor. These are charged simply by plugging into the mains. The only drawback is that a full top-up takes six hours from a domestic supply – it’s less from a commercial output.

Keyless go is standard so, as long as the fob is in your pocket, all you have to do is turn a switch on the steering column and a beep tells you the car is ready to go. Slot the shift lever into ‘Drive’ and the C-ZERO moves off, accompanied only by a muted swish of tyres on tarmac.

The engine provides its full 180Nm of torque throughout the rev range, giving more pulling power than Citroen’s C1 and C2. Acceleration is adequate, if not brisk.

Despite the skinny tyres, handling is stable. And while the C-ZERO has been designed for the urban environment, it certainly isn’t disgraced out on the open road.

Citroen claims a top speed of 80mph and says the car will accelerate from 37-56mph in six seconds. Of more interest is the range. A conservative estimate of 80 miles will be enough for most owners.

Rival: Think! City
It's been a long time coming, but the Norwegian project that started life as a Ford is nearly ready. While handling is decent, above 50mph, speed is limited, plus the car has only two seats.

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