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New Citroen e-C3 packs 199 miles of range for under £23,000

The supermini-sized Citroen e-C3 will be one of Britain's cheapest electric cars when it arrives next year

Electric cars are expensive, or that’s what we’re told. Yet Citroen is about to say otherwise with a new-generation EV ready to challenge that preconception. 

This is the all-new Citroen e-C3, a battery electric B-segment supermini that will launch in the UK early next year for “under £23,000” – and with a very reasonable 199-mile range. It will be joined by petrol-powered C3 models down the line, but for now Citroen is leading on its low-priced EV halo, which might just kick off a new era of affordable EVs. 

The e-C3 is built on a flexible ‘smart car’ platform, which places a 44kWh LFP (lithium ferro phosphate) battery pack underneath the rear seats. This type of battery chemistry isn’t quite as efficient at low temperatures as other, more expensive battery tech, and nor will Citroen offer a heat pump. But in response, the maker says the majority of e-C3 customers will drive less than 50 miles a day, making ultimate range less important than keeping costs down.

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Citroen hasn’t skimped on charging performance, though, with up to 100kW capable via DC fast-charging, which will replenish the battery from 20 to 80 per cent in 26 minutes. AC speeds on a home wall-box are available in standard 7.4kW and optional 11kW speeds, which will still get the battery from 20 to 80 per cent in just over four hours for the base, or just under three hours for the uprated 11kW system. 

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Citroen will also offer an even cheaper battery option at a later date, with around 124 miles of range. Prices for that version could kick off closer to £20,000, although specific details are still to come. 

The e-C3’s front-mounted electric motor, inverter and all its corresponding electronics take up the space underneath the bonnet. The motor produces 112bhp and will get the car to 62mph in around 11 seconds, while top speed is rated at 84mph. 

The C3 is only marginally larger (18mm longer and 6mm wider) than the previous-generation petrol supermini. It does, however, sit 70mm taller than before, yielding improved visibility and, allegedly, a more comfortable driving position. In fact comfort has been a major deliverable in this car’s development, with Citroen even introducing its hydraulic bump-stops across the range – a first in the supermini class. This should give the e-C3 excellent ride-quality and refinement, even on rough roads.

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We were given an exclusive early look at the car, and can confirm that space in the rear is a bit tight – certainly when it comes to legroom. The boxy shape and upright stance, however, ensure headroom is generous. 

Yet it’s the interior design that makes a bigger statement with its fresh look and feel. The first thing you’ll notice is the lack of an instrument binnacle; rather than a typical set of dials or LCD screen, the e-C3 uses a small head-up display that sits within a full-width cavity high up on the dashboard. All your key information is available on this small display, with speed and range taking pride of place – with large numerals easily visible in your peripheral vision when looking down the road ahead. This works with a miniaturised oblong-shaped steering wheel that looks and feels very contemporary, and is not unlike the one found in a Peugeot e-208.

The upper section of the e-C3’s dash features a 10-inch touchscreen that’s purely for the infotainment system, as Citroen has retained a set of separate heating and ventilation controls lower down. This might be an inexpensive car, but thanks to the use of fabric inserts and clever detailing, it feels typically French in its execution. The pillow-soft Active Comfort seats are another Citroen trademark, and should help create a serene and calming driving experience. 

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Outside, the Citroen features crossover-like styling elements such as a relatively high ride height, black wheel arch extensions and a chunky upright stance. There has been some attempt to channel the Oli Concept car, but other than the bold lighting signatures and its new badge, the connection between the two are tenuous at best. It’s still interesting to look at, however, with 16-inch (or optional 17-inch) alloy wheels, plus coloured plastic inserts on the rear pillars and front bumper which can be easily swapped for a variety of different colours to accent the two-tone paintwork on higher trim levels. 

UK models will be available in three trim lines: You!, Plus, and Max, each with varying levels of standard equipment, with the cheapest version costing less than £23,000. Regardless, all e-C3’s pick up cruise control, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, LED headlights and automatic autonomous braking. Citroen’s roll out of value-driven EVs isn’t due to stop here either, as the new e-C3 will also spawn a new generation Aircross SUV spin-off, expanding its range yet further.

Details on the petrol-powered versions of the C3 are yet to be confirmed, but it’s likely to use Citroen’s familiar 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine mated to both automatic and manual transmission options. The rest of the underlying chassis is relatively simple, so expect MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear end.

Click here for our list of the cheapest electric cars on sale...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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