16.6.2011 Citroen C-Zero review
Both the C-Zero and the Peugeot iOn are essentially Mitsubishi i-MiEVs wearing Citroen badges – the pioneering trio were really the first mass produced electric vehicles available in the UK that are not classed as quadricycles. The three models use the same drivetrain and the body work is almost identical, but the interiors vary slightly from one to another.
The C-Zero can be bought outright for £28,155 (including the £5,000 Government grant) or leased over 4 years for £415 monthly. These prices may be off-putting, but once paid for, running costs are particularly low. Like most new EVs, the C-Zero is well equipped and smooth to drive with tax and Congestion Charge exemption.
Review by John Ironmonger for nextgreencar.com
Unlike conventional vehicles, power and torque do not need to build up with revs, so 180 Nm of torque is instantly available at the accelerator pedal. There is more than enough acceleration from a standstill – the C-Zero's 0-30 mph time is quicker than even sportier conventional vehicles, although 0-60 takes a longer at around 16 seconds. These statistics are well suited to urban driving. 16 kWh Lithium-ion batteries power a 47 kW synchronous electric motor which delivers a top speed of 81mph and maximum power of 64 bhp.
The C-Zero looks slim and tall, and not particularly stable sat on its skinny tyres. However, the heavy 88-cell battery pack strategically located underneath the vehicle gives the car a low centre of gravity and balanced stability. There is little body roll in corners as a result, and contrary to its looks, it feels reasonably solid and safe. The ride is smooth and quiet, and with no gearbox it is very easy and peaceful to drive – steering is responsive. We were testing around Rockingham race track in the rain and around some of the sharper corners, skidding didn't feel too far away.
Along with its two siblings, the C-Zero's body is essentially a revamped Mitsubishi 'i'. Its egg-shaped body looks small and skinny, which almost makes it look unstable. However, this does make it practical for urban motoring, with easy parking due to having almost no bonnet and short chassis. The driver sits quite high up and the windscreen is large which provides good vision and a feeling of control. The body curves nicely over the rear wheels. It is 3,475mm in length and 1,594mm wide and 1,600mm tall.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The interior is adequately equipped, although not as technology and gadget packet as the Nissan LEAF, for example. A fob must be nearby and a button is pressed to start the vehicle – although still in complete silence it is then ready to operate. Seats are comfortable, and driving is particularly smooth and relaxing.
The C-Zero is not massive, although easily offers enough room for four adults – boot space however is limited at just 170 litres. Dials inform the driver of remaining range and driver's efficiency – however, you are not overwhelmed by hundreds of futuristic dials as with other electric models. It seems as though Citroen have aimed not to scare those who are new to electric driving, nothing looks surprisingly new or different to a conventional vehicle. Air con does drain the battery charge, as does the heater.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
A full recharge at home will cost £1.50 on average, providing 93 miles of motoring. The C-Zero therefore costs around 2p per mile as opposed to an average of around 11p per mile for a petrol equivalent. Purchase costs are high, but they come with an 8 year/80,000 mile warranty for the vehicle, battery pack and electric motor – full servicing and maintenance are included for 4 years/40,000 miles. It is VED tax exempt and free from the London Congestion Charge, subject to a £10 annual registration fee. Many London boroughs offer free or reduced parking for electric vehicles. 100% first year capital allowance write-down is available for business use, and BIK rate is 0%.
With no tailpipe emissions, the C-Zero produces no emissions whilst in operation. This has many positive implications for city driving in particular, as local air pollutants are not emitted during use. However, it must be remembered that with most of today's grid electricity coming from fossil fuel fed power stations, there are 'upstream' emissions. With this taken into account, overall lifecycle CO2 emissions are expected to be around 70 g/km. Next Green Car gives a Green Car Rating of 21 if charged with the standard electricity mix, which drops to 10 if charged renewably. Up-to-date locations of all public recharge points can be found using Next Green Car's Zap Map.
Standard features include air conditioning, electric windows, alloy wheels, power steering, ABS, traction control, ESP and six airbags, among others. Heated seats and door mirrors are available at extra cost. There is also the option of satellite navigation – which can be especially useful for EVs when it comes to locating publically accessible charge points.
Model tested: Citroen C-zero
Body-style: 5 door city car
Engine/CO2: 47 kW synchronous electric motor / 0 gCO2/km
On-road price: From £415 monthly for 4 years / £33,155 outright payment
Warranty: 8 years / 80,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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