Citroen e-C3 first drive review

United Colours of Citroen

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Bringing typical French flair to the entry segment of EVs isn’t easy, but Citroen has worked smartly to infuse some freshness into this new genre.

Sticking to its promise of bringing one new car to India every year, the all-electric e-C3 follows hot on the heels of the C3 compact hatchback that came in 2022. Bearing a striking resemblance to the sophisticated C5 full-size SUV that ushered in the French revolution in 2021, it’s evident that Citroen is going for a certain kind of customer. Someone who likes distinctive and quirky design, the ability to customise their cars and values comfort over other indulgences. So the inherently long wheelbase that the e-C3 shares with the petrol-powered C3 is instrumental in making this platform a comfortable city car to ride in. Of course, Citroen had envisioned the C3 platform from its inception to accept both ICE and EV powertrains, reducing years and dollars in development costs.


Breaking away from the cookie-cutter norm, Citroen offers never-before-seen options to customise the e-C3 to suit your style. You can choose from four base colours, in monotone or dual-tone, select between chrome, orange or white external trim accents and even choose between an orange or grey dashboard panel. Overall, with its floating roof design, scooped-out fenders, air bumps on the side sills and the big chevron with split headlights face, it can be mistaken even for the larger C5 from head-on! The rear is a lot less flashy but overall if you make the right colour, roof and trim choices, the e-C3 looks appropriately zesty to rekindle your relationship with the planet.

As expected, the cabin is rife with hard plastics but the quality is acceptable and if you want to distract and attract, the orange trim is clearly the bolder option. It goes a long way in sprucing up the straightforward and otherwise functional cabin. The controls for the rear power windows are placed behind the handbrake though, perhaps a gentle reminder you that you’re in something…French. What seems to be a novelty in 2023 is also an actual key that needs cranking to start up the electrics! No engine start/stop button here and some may find the cranking to be charming, but it does take a while to get used to the utter lack of any vibration associated with an “engine” coming to life.


A new 10.2in touchscreen takes over the dashboard and it handily also supports wireless phone mirroring, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. USB-A ports front and back offer enough outlets to keep your passengers anxiety-free, but USB-C would’ve been more in tune with the times. Four speakers round off the entertainment package inside the cabin and getting about your phone’s controls via the touchscreen is a breeze as the touch response is excellent without any lag in operation. A new MyCitroen Connect car app is bundled and offers 35 smart features that can come in handy when searching for nearby charging stations, setting geofences, checking charge status, adding other app users and tons more.

For any EV in the entry segment though, the real tech lies under the hood, in the all-important “range” spec. The e-C3 packs in a 29.2kWh battery pack between its wheelbase that slots right in the middle of the Tata Tiago EV and the Tata Nexon EV. Citroen claims this battery is good for 320kms before needing to be plugged in, but as we have come to learn, these are purely indicative and like with any EV, the most significant variable is terrain and driving style. The e-C3 doesn’t make any pretences though and offers honest Eco and Standard drive modes that don’t offer much perceptible difference. Top speed is 107kmph which may not sound like it’s going to win you any drag races, but the acceleration time of sub-7 secs for a 0-100kmph sprint is respectable.

Like most things EV, the single-speed transmission can be controlled via a toggle on the centre console, which is well-built and feels appropriately futuristic. Most importantly though, it’s much quicker to react to changes than the dial on the Tata Tiago EV.


You take off without any effort or ceremony and the e-C3 makes brisk progress until it reaches its prescribed top speed of 107km/hr. Regardless of Eco or Standard mode selected, power and speed build up linearly and you don’t get the shove in your seat feeling when you stomp your foot down. Calibrated for first-time EV buyers and city commuters, this is actually a smart decision by Citroen and it’s also evident in how the regenerative braking feels. The 57hp motor produces 143Nm of torque and all that torque is harnessed to maximise efficiency, not necessarily make you a boy racer at the stop lights. Take your foot off the throttle and you will soon start seeing the battery charge percentage creeping up, indicating power being put back into the battery pack. During this process, the braking itself feels like any regular engined car, unlike the head bob you feel in other EVs when you lift off. There are no selectable Regen modes, but using the Eco drive mode and maintaining a steady throttle control will swing the digital meters heavily in the favour of battery, getting you closer to the claimed range figure. 

In our relatively short loop around the test track and limited time, it was impossible to gauge how the real-world range would be affected by different topography and driving styles. But what we could test out was steering feel, high-speed stability and cornering…all of which seemed class-leading. With adequate weight, the steering is direct and even turn-in is sharp enough, the wheels not protesting mid-corner. Wind and tyre noise, even at max speed, never got intrusive into the cabin either.

Being a Citroen, our monocle was set on suspension tuning, but again, due to the test drive being on a track, we can’t really verify the “flying carpet” ride quality that is the mainstay of Citroen’s history. The ground clearance is a shade lower than the regular C3 at 170mm but this shouldn’t pose a problem out on the streets. Cabin comfort is reasonable with supportive seats and steering that adjusts for rake but most importantly, a tropicalised AC that is designed to be effective even in the peak of Delhi summer. You could lament the lack of an armrest or wireless charging but overall, it manages to convince you that you got what you need.

Rear seat space is a bit tight, especially with a tall driver or passenger up front, so that needs consideration depending on specific family needs.


Since the air-cooled battery is designed to accept 100% DC fast charging, what it means is that you could keep the e-C3 charged up to 100% all the time without having to worry about battery age or deterioration. Accepting a max charge speed of 30kWh, the e-C3 can be topped from 10% to 80% in 57 minutes, but if you’re using a home 15A wall outlet, expect a leisurely ten hours or more. The car is bundled with a 3.3kWh home charging cable to enable this, but any Citroen dealership will host you for a fast charge, should you be living close enough to accept their hospitality.


With personality and dimensions that are tailor-made for the urban solo commuter, the Citroen e-C3 is certainly an attractive package. But then, so is the Tata Tiago EV. What sets them apart from each other is the playfulness in design and customisation, which is down to personal preference and in many cases, service and charging network may swing your decision one way or the other. The e-C3 should be priced aggressively when it is officially launched in February but until then, if you’re a budget EV shopper, time to start doing your homework!

Stuff Says

A cheerful city runabout that is capable of reflecting your personality. Could use a bit more grunt in the motor though.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Plenty of colour and customisation options

  1. Drive selector is slick and the drive is smooth

  1. Wireless phone mirroring in this segment

  1. Some ergonomic quirks, no auto climate control

  1. Could use more pep in the motor

  1. Rear seat legroom

Acceleration: 0-100 in 6.8secs
Battery capacity: 29.2kWh
Power: 57hp
Range: 320kms
Top speed: 107 km/hr
Torque: 143Nm