It’s become much easier to switch to battery power recently, but I reckon it takes a full year of seasonal changes to really get to grips with what an electric car is capable of. Plunging temperatures over the last few weeks mean I’m roughly two seasons into that journey with the ë-C4, and winter has put some important features to the test.
Sceptics will tell you that electric cars are a bind; a transition that mires drivers in long charging stops and range anxiety, but it’s weather like this where the day-to-day benefits really come to life. Moments like a recent minus 7 degrees Celsius morning where, while scraping the ice off our own C4 SpaceTourer, I found myself glancing at its still-locked electric neighbour, with its pre-programmed heaters humming away on power drawn from the charge point. Or standing at the payment hatch of a fuel station having lost sensation in my fingers while filling the family car with petrol. If you have somewhere to charge at home, it takes a few seconds to plug in, then you’re back in the warm. That’s a luxury, not a bind.
Winter is ruthless at highlighting the flaws with even the newest cars, but our Citroën has fared well. It’s weathered a Welsh monsoon without its windows or headlights steaming up, and the heaters are excellent. The energy-efficient heat pump – which is standard across the range – can de-mist its windows and warm the cabin faster than anything else on the driveway because it isn’t trying to draw warmth from a cold engine. It has become our first choice for spontaneous errands, avoiding the shoulders-hunched, hand-wringing first few minutes of heading out in our own car in sub-zero temperatures.
Not all of the surprises have been this pleasant, though. Having got used to the 190-mile motorway range during the autumn, the spectre of old-school electric motoring appeared during a recent trip to Heathrow. Within 15 miles of leaving home with a full charge, the instrument cluster was showing I had used 10% of the battery capacity, but had over 190 miles left. I’m no mathematician, but those numbers don’t add up, so I assumed it was due to the heaters working hard at the start of the trip and ignored it.
This was a bad idea. Eco mode would have powered down the cabin heaters, which wasn’t sensible as temperatures outside dropped closer to freezing, and by the time I got to Reading Services I was starting to get range anxiety. Mental maths was suggesting I’d get to Heathrow with around 10 to 15 miles of range remaining, and that translates into around 150 miles to a full charge. Luckily, I could at least grab a short top-up while I planned a charging stop near the airport after my return flight. And, on a high-powered charge point, it didn’t take long to get enough range for the slightly warmer journey home.
Credit where it’s due, freezing cold motorway trips are a worst-case scenario for EVs, and the ë-C4 still managed a respectable range despite the odds stacked against it. However, I can’t help feeling that a slightly longer range – something the mechanically similar Vauxhall Mokka Electric is getting soon – would broaden the appeal of an otherwise very capable electric car.
Arrived 17th October 2022
Price when new £30,995
Price as tested £32,340
Range 219 miles
Costs None Faults None