New Citroen e-C3 vies to be Europe’s cheapest homegrown electric car in 2024 | CAR Magazine

New Citroen e-C3 vies to be the UK’s cheapest electric car in 2024

Published: 17 October 2023 Updated: 17 October 2023

► Specs and details of new Citroen e-C3 revealed
► 199-mile e-range, Advanced Comfort engineering
► Launches in early 2024 priced from under £23k in UK

The race to create cheaper electric cars is heating up with this, the new Citroen e-C3. The battery-electric supermini has been revealed in Paris and intends to rewrite the rulebook on how much European-built electric cars should cost.

Citroen says its new e-C3 is ‘the first European affordable electric car.’ The word ‘European’ is the key caveat because the Dacia Spring is cheaper and already on sale in Europe – but it’s Chinese-made. The Spring will launch in the UK in 2024.

The new e-C3 will cost from around £23,000 and it will compete with other lower cost rivals such as the upcoming Renault 5 and VW ID.2.

It looks a bit different to current Citroen cars…

Inevitably the new hatch has a touch of the crossover SUV about its stance, but this is not the replacement for the C3 Aircross: that will come next.

Some of the e-C3’s design details have been inspired by the Oli concept car, and the overall look of the car includes many more angular and clean-cut lines than Citroens of the past. That’s something that Citroen design director, Pierre Leclerq, has been working on this past year, with the more aggressive look starting off with the facelifted C5 Aircross.

‘Think more consumer electronics with how we’ll treat things like headlights and grilles going forward. This is the start of something that we’re going to continue to explore in every car that I really believe will give us much more chances to be successful in terms of sales – making everything round is extremely difficult to make a success,’ he told CAR in early 2023.

On top of that, the new e-C3 is the first car to launch with Citroen’s new (and yet rather old-school) logo. The brand’s return to the oval badging with the two chevrons housed inside apes that of Citroen’s branding over many decades of its more than 100-year-long history. ‘We tried it first on the 1919 concept car, and we thought it looked pretty cool and would try it out on projects we were working on in the studio,’ Leclercq told us in early 2023. ‘I wouldn’t say everyone was convinced – we had to work on the proportions and, while it might look like the original logo from 1919, we actually did a lot of work to fine tune it.’

How has Citroen made the new e-C3 cheaper?

By being smart with materials, technology and engineering. The most obvious strategy is its shape; the new e-C3 is based on the ‘Smart Car’ (no, not that Smart) platform being deployed by Stellantis in markets like India and South America. In fact, the new e-C3 shares a lot of componentry with the ‘CC21’ C3 (which is much boxier and crossover-ier than the outgoing Euro-spec C3) available in those markets.

Naturally, though, the biggest expense of an EV is the battery pack. Here, the new e-C3 uses a lithium ferro phosphate battery pack instead of a more traditional lithium ion one, which uses far fewer rare earths like cobalt or manganese, making it cheaper and less reliant on the rather iffy supply chain of those materials.

The battery pack is rated to 44kWh here, and Citroen claims a 199-mile electric range for this model. The brand says the e-C3 is also capable of 100kW DC charging, allowing a 20-80 per cent charge to be done in 26 minutes. Sadly, unlike the Oli concept, the e-C3’s charging point is placed in a rather conventional place rather than neatly behind the badge.

Any performance specs for the new Citroen e-C3?

As well as the info about the battery pack, Citroen has confirmed some performance data. The new e-C3 is powered by a single 111bhp electric motor driving the front wheels, which is good for a 0-62mph time of around 11 seconds and a top speed of 84mph.

As for any bonus engineering, Citroen says it’s included some of its Advanced Comfort features in the new e-C3. As well as super-squishy seats, the suspension features the brand’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushions normally only seen on the brand’s larger cars.

What about the Citroen e-C3’s interior?

Full of clever cost-saving measures in here, too – without looking too cheap and tacky. Citroen calls the e-C3’s interior the C-Zen Lounge (ugh…) and it features some interesting details.

First of which is the ‘Citroen Head-Up Display’, which isn’t technically the kind of HUD we’ve come to know (i.e.: a digital image reflected onto the inside of the windscreen). Instead, the drivers’ instruments are positioned at the very top of the dashboard and inset into it; driving data like your speed and the state of charge are displayed there, with little else to distract you. It arguably reminds us of the high-set dot-matrix displays of the mid-2000s Xsara Picasso and C4 hatchback.

Other simple details include some handy cupholders in the centre console, physical climate control switchgear low down in the dashboard and some soft materials used.

Citroen e-C3: prices and specs

As mentioned, Citroen plans to launch the new e-C3 in the first few months of 2024 priced from under £23,000 in its entry-level model, and is expected to launch in the UK in August 2024. More detailed UK pricing information will be revealed closer to its launch.

Citroen also makes a point of introducing only three trim levels to simplify the range offered: entry-level You!, mid-tier Plus and top-spec Max. You! models feature the brand’s Advance Comfort suspension, auto headlights, rear parking sensors, manual air con and six airbags. This model also does without a central infotainment display; instead, Citroen supplies you a docking point for your phone.

Plus includes 17-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch central infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Advance Comfort seats, auto wipers, split-fold rear seats and the option of two-tone paint.

Max, meanwhile, tops the e-C3 spec off with LED rear lights, tinted rear glass, automatic air con, navigation, a wireless charging pad, rear parking camera and rear electric windows.

Citroen has also confirmed that a second e-C3 variant is due in 2025 with a smaller 124-mile range will launch in 2025. This model is unconfirmed for the UK market, but Citroen says it’ll arrive in Continental Europe with a list price starting at €19,900.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches