2023 Citroen e-C3 Electric Hatchback Review With Video

  • C3 EV is based on the regular petrol C3
  • No compromise on boot space
  • 106 km/h top speed, 300km+ range

Pros : What we like!

  • Spacious cabin that feels airy as well
  • 315 litres of boot space useful for weekend outings
  • Real world range of 250km possible on a single charge
  • Colour options on offer are bold & funky
  • Low centre of gravity means super dynamics
  • Long list of custom options and accessories
  • Battery supports back to back DC fast charging
citroen c3 electric

Cons : What we don't!

  • Missing features : climate control, cruise control, rear wiper etc
  • 56 bhp motor isn't very peppy. Top speed limited to 106 km/h
  • Battery pack does not offer liquid cooling
  • Limited dealership network
  • No AC fast charging on offer

Who is Citroen?

The brand is over 100 years old and has 14 factories across the globe. This French maker is well known for two important things - design language and segment leading comfort levels. We have seen these two factors in both the C5 AirCross as well as C3 hatchback. Their Indian innings started in 2021 and by the end of 2023, they will have a total of four products on sale. The company is in rapid expansion mode and will have 75 showrooms before the end of 2023.

The brand also updated its logo recently - the latest version is as seen above.

What is the eC3 all about?

The C3 EV is based on the C3 petrol model. Infact, Citroen says that work on the electric version of C3 started in parallel with the petrol model years back. This also allowed the engineers to find ample time to come up with a platform that could easily take in the battery pack between both the axles. The C3 EV will be sold in two versions and bookings started on 26th January. Pricing will be out in Feb'23. There are no external or internal design changes as compared to the petrol C3

Citroen C3 Electric Exteriors

  • Similar dimensions as compared to the petrol C3
  • Ground clearance down by 10mm
  • No design changes, not even the grille!
citroen c3 electric
Above: Front looks identical to its petrol cousin

The eC3 looks identical to its petrol sibling. The only visible change on the outside are the badges and the outlet for charging the car. The latter is placed above the front right wheel. Interestingly, the e-hatchback retains the fuel filler cap on the left rear panel. The only reasoning could this be cost cutting measures - developing a new panel would not be free afterall!

citroen c3 electric
Above: Charging outlet located above front right wheel

Citroen has even retained the same grille design and lower front bumper design - its not the 'shut' type single piece we see on EVs. The top version comes with DRLs and full body cladding all around. The pictures here have alloys wheels on the media car but Citroen have told us these will not part of the standard equipment.

citroen c3 electric
Above: the low placed battery pack is visible even from this angle

The C3 is a sizeable hatchback, being just 12mm less in length as compared to the Nexon EV. Likewise, it is just 2mm shorter in height! It has excellent ground clearance of 170mm for a hatchback. The eC3 has a wheelbase of 2540mm which is way longer than the Nexon's! Further, Citroen is offering multiple single tone and dual tone colour options and even 3 custom packs of polar white, zesty orange, and platinum grey.

Citroen C3 Electric Interiors

  • Sufficiently spacious thanks to the height
  • Floor is slightly higher due to placement of battery pack
  • 315 litres of boot space is pretty good
citroen c3 electric
Above: Cabin design is similar to that of the petrol C3

Step inside and you will notice the same airy cabin as the petrol C3. No design change whatsoever apart from the omission of a gear lever. In comes a C5 type toggle switch that allows you to move between D (drive), R (reverse) and N (neutral). It also frees up space between the front two seats and looks clean.

citroen c3 electric
Above: Slightly contrast finish for horizontal fascia panel

The eC3 gets a dark colour theme on the inside with a slightly lighter finish for the horizontal dashboard panel running across the width of the car. We like the unconventional design for the AC vents and the large touchscreen sits proudly in the centre. The small LCD speedometer console is retained and as expected, it gets a display for the charge left and DTE (distance to empty). The overall build quality is pretty good for the segment and what keeps you happy are the seats. These feel comfortable and should be good for long runs.

citroen c3 electric
Above: Gear lever gets replaced by this

Up front, tall individuals won't have a concern in terms of headroom as well. Driver's footwell also does not have a clutch now in the eC3. At the back, a small issue is the raised floor. Likewise, none of the seats offer adjustable headrests. Apart from this, the rear bench feels comfortable and is good for 2 adults and a child

citroen c3 electric
Above: Sufficient room for back seat passengers, but no middle row head-rest

The boot offers 315 lites of space which is 31% bigger than the Tiago EV's but 10% smaller than what the Nexon EV Prime offers. The parcel tray is pretty big and useful.

citroen c3 electric
Above: ample boot space on offer

Citroen C3 Electric Features

  • This is one area where the eC3 misses out on
  • Like the C3 petrol, lot of features missing here
  • 2 versions on offer
citroen c3 electric
Above: Screen looks large, good touch receptionAbove: Above: Screen looks large, good touch reception

The biggest shortcoming of the C3 has been the lack of features. We did spot a version with added goodies few months back but sadly, the eC3 continues to miss out on a lot of items. From a rear wiper to alloy wheels, climate control to from arm-rest, the eC3 does not get adjustable head rests, rear arm-rest, reverse camera or even powered outside mirrors.

citroen c3 electric
Above: placement of rear power window switches behind the hand brake

What it offers is a LCD speedometer console, a sizeable touchscreen system, all four power windows and keyless entry. For a car that would cost about Rs 12 lakh, these are very basic features on offer.

Citroen C3 Electric Powertrain

  • Electric motor is rated at 56 bhp / 143 Nm
  • Gets power from a 29.2 kWh battery pack
  • No liquid cooling for this battery pack
citroen c3 electric
Above: Home charging cable looks like this

On paper, the C3 Electric motor is good for only 56 bhp which is way less than what the Tiago EV offers - 74 bhp! What matters here is the torque output as the C3 EV's motor delivers 143 Nm of torque as compared to 114 on the Tiago. This is what makes the eC3 quick enough for a heavy hatchback. Citroen says the C3 EV does the 0 to 60 sprint in just 6.8 seconds - this is more than good but yes not as quick as the Tiago EV we know.

citroen c3 electric
Above: eC3 hits a top speed of 107 km/h

Flat out, the eC3 hits a limited top speed of 106 km/h and we do agree this could be a sore point for some buyers. In this era of fast charger availability on highways, we are sure a lot of people do like to explore triple digit speeds in their EVs. That said, for urban runs, the push from 30 to 50 or 50 to 70 is good enough and will be helpful during overtaking manoeuvres. You also get creep function wherein the car moves ahead without accelerator inputs - very helpful for start-stop traffic conditions.

citroen c3 electric
Above: High speed manners are good

The claimed range is 320 km on a full charge and during light accelerator inputs, we saw the car consuming 1% of battery charge every 2.5 to 2.6 km - for this we had kept the eC3 between 65 to 70 km/h. So yes, with light throttle inputs 250+ is possible. Do note this was done in normal model and not Eco - yes, the C3 EV does come with an Eco mode as well.

citroen c3 electric
Above: Battery pack reduces ground clearance by 10mm

One potential shortcoming we see in the powertrain is the natural air cooling for the battery pack. Even the Tiago EV uses liquid cooling but Citroen seems pretty confident with their selection. The company further says the battery pack has been tested in extreme weather conditions, with temperatures ranging from as low as -10 to as high as 55 degrees. That said, some buyers might still not get the peace of mind factor that comes along with a liquid cooling set up.

Citroen C3 Electric Ride & Handling

The regular petrol C3 has always been known for its mature and comfortable ride quality. The car feels bigger than what it is and the same gets carried forward to the electric sibling as well. Although the test track did not have much undulations or any broken patches, during the 30 minute stint, the eC3 felt good enough.

citroen c3 electric
Above: The C3 EV is a neutral handler

The addition of the battery pack sees the overall kerb weight going up by 260 kg. However, all this is placed at a lower level, between the axles. This in turn gets the centre of gravity lower which ends up aiding dynamics. Even taking the longish curve flat out at 106 km/h did not make me feel nervous at all. The eC3 should be a sorted car in terms of handling behaviour. At the same time, the steering isn't too heavy or light and does offer reasonable levels of feedback to the driver.

Citroen C3 Electric Rivals

The C3 EV sits in a segment that has limited options right now. On the lower end is the Tata Tiago EV which is a hatchback and on the higher end is the Tigor EV. We believe (as of Jan 2023) that the eC3 will be priced between these two Tata Electric cars. Likewise, on the higher end is the Tata Nexon EV that has a starting price of Rs 14.49 lakh post the revision.

Citroen C3 Electric Verdict

citroen c3 electric
Above: eC3 is a smart move by the French maker

The 2023 Citroen eC3 sits in a comfortable zone. Its a first mover advantage by Citroen in terms of providing a large hatchback with a decent range, ample space and good looks. The company is also working hard to increase its pan-India dealership. If launched at a tempting price, this could be a game changer for the French marker in India.

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