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Electric Citroen C1

19 Jun 2009

evo has a drive of the electric version of Citroen's highly likeable C1 city car

Like it or not, electric cars look like they’re here to stay. In the shape of performance cars like the Tesla Roadster that’s no bad thing, but what about the opposite, more attainable end to the market?

It’s a genre best known for the deeply undesirable G-Wiz, but now there’s a far more appealing alternative if you feel the urge to go electric. It’s from the Electric Car Company and it’s a conversion of the Citroen C1 city car.

That’s not a bad place to start, the C1 being our favourite when we compared budget cars last year. Much of its appeal comes from the slightly uncouth but characterful 3-cylinder 1-litre engine that lies under the bonnet, though, so if this is replaced with the silent, smooth torque curve of an electric motor, do things fall flat?

Not quite. Up to 30mph this C1 Evie feels quicker than its petrol equivalent, the power delivery feeling unnaturally constant thanks to its torquey, single-speed delivery. Beyond that speed things are less impressive, the car quickly running out of puff, and feeling laboured by the weight of all its batteries.

For urban, sub-30mph driving, though, it’ll no doubt suit its target driver just nicely. Power source aside it’s the same as any C1, so is a compact but practical five-door city car that refreshingly puts function above form.

The main negative comes courtesy of Citroen’s donor car – the regular, petrol C1 is already admirably economical and light on carbon emissions, making the case for the Evie – which kicks off at £16,850, double the price – a difficult one. As a step towards a likeable electric car, though, it’s a good one.

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