Citroen C Zero Hatchback Leasing
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The Citroen C-Zero has smooth, strong acceleration at town speeds, with zero emissions and minimal running costs beyond the monthly leasing fee.
Maximum range is fewer than 100 miles and public charging points are few and far between. However, the biggest problem is the high cost.
You can’t fault the zero tailpipe emissions, but the Citroen C-Zero costs far too much to lease for us to recommend it.
The car is powered by a 47-kilowatt (66bhp) electric motor fed by a 16 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. There’s 140lb ft of torque from standstill, so it accelerates strongly and smoothly up to typical urban speeds and can embarrass many a small petrol or diesel car. The lack of a gearbox makes it a doddle to drive, too.
Ride & Handling
The car is quite tall, but the batteries and motor are housed beneath the floor to keep the centre of gravity low. As a result, the C-Zero feels stable in the urban conditions it has been designed for, and there’s enough compliance in the suspension to absorb most of the effects of potholes and bumps. However, it doesn’t grip well if you get over-enthusiastic at roundabouts, and when you leave the city behind, the car is all too easily upset by side winds and the wake from HGVs.
One of the delights of electric cars is that they are almost silent when running. In this car, there’s a bit of whirring from the motor, but it’s a mere hum in the background - in town. On faster roads, this turns into an irritating whine, and because the car is so tall it stirs up a fair amount of wind noise at relatively modest speeds.
Buying & Owning
The only way to get a C-Zero is to lease one for four years/40,000 miles, which costs more than £400 a month (after reclaiming VAT). That's very dear for a car of this size, especially compared to the (larger) Nissan Leaf, but it does take care of the worry about battery life and costs. The range on a full charge is fewer than 100 miles – much less if you constantly use the heater or air-con. Full recharging takes six hours, but you get 80% of capacity in 30 minutes from a quick-charge point.
Quality & Reliability
Mitsubishi assembles the car for Citroen in Japan alongside its own i-Miev, and the build quality seems solid enough. Reliability is an unknown quantity at this stage, but there ought to be few problems since electric cars are simpler than those with petrol or diesel engines. The cabin trim is durable, but it’s a distinctly dour and unappealing place to sit.
Safety & Security
While many cheap electric cars are classed as quadricycles, which means they don’t have to meet the crash standards of cars, the C-Zero has been put through the same crash tests as anything else in the manufacturer’s range and scored a four-star Euro NCAP rating. It has stability control, emergency brake assist and six airbags as standard.
Behind The Wheel
Citroen has done its best to make everything seem familiar so as not to scare away newcomers to electric cars. The drive selector looks like a regular auto gearbox shifter, for instance, and the battery-condition dial has been styled like a fuel gauge. The oddest thing about the driving position is that it forces you to sit high up and some drivers may struggle to get comfortable.
Space & Practicality
The car is billed as a four-seater, but it depends who the four are. Headroom isn't the problem, but adults in the rear will be short of kneeroom, so they'll be kneading the backs of people in front through the thinly padded seats. There's not much boot space with four aboard, either.
Citroen is equipping the car for the urban conditions it has been designed to run in and for the governmental and business users it is aimed at. There’s air-conditioning and power steering, for example, plus electric windows to make it easier when extracting tickets or paying at multi-storey car parks.