Citroen isn’t messing about with its electrification strategy.
Earlier this year it introduced electric drivetrains in several of its commercial vehicles and made the bold choice to abandon diesel engines in passenger versions of two of them - the Berlingo and SpaceTourer.
While the e-Berlingo is a smaller “leisure activity vehicle” with up to seven seats, the e-SpaceTourer is a full-sized van with up to nine seats.
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It is available in two lengths - M or XL - and two quite distinct trim levels with either eight or nine-seat configurations but with just one powertrain option.
The trim levels are very clearly aimed at two different markets. The £48,000 Flair Edition includes family friendly touches such as hands-free sliding doors, a two-piece split tailgate, auto dual-zone climate with additional rear vents, keyless entry and start, panoramic glass roof panels and a reversing camera as standard. It also features cosmetic touches such as body-coloured bumpers and mirrors, alloy wheels plus tinted rear glass.
The Business Edition, in contrast, starts at just under £36,000 and does without any of those baubles, although our test version did come with the Look Pack that adds body coloured bumpers, powered mirrors and rear parking sensors (£480) and the Connected Nav infotainment upgrade (£400). While the spec is a significant step down, the Business Edition does still get a small digital instrument display, seven-inch media screen with smartphone mirroring and steering wheel controls.
It also comes with nine seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, rather than the eight-seat setup in the Flair. In that arrangement it’s a hugely practical people hauler. One-third of the middle row folds forward to give access to the rear bench and each row offers plenty of room for passengers. The benches also fold flat and can be removed, expanding the standard 700 litres of cargo space to a maximum of 4,200 litres. There are also lots of storage cubbies, cupholders and tie-down points - carry overs from the Dispatch cargo van on which the e-SpaceTourer is based.
As mentioned, the e-SpaceTourer comes with just one powertrain - a single 134bhp electric motor driving the front wheels and powered by a 50kWh battery. Three drive modes - eco, normal and power - can help adjust output to conserve battery and there are two levels of brake regeneration to suit different driving conditions.
The EV powertrain works brilliantly from a van point of view, especially from a last-mile type delivery use.
As in any EV, the throttle response is instant and smooth and there’s no need to worry about shifting gear. It’s not exactly quick - 0-62mph takes 13.1 seconds - but the initial response is good. Compared to a diesel unit with a manual transmission it makes life so much easier, quieter and calmer. For drivers plying their trade in city centres where traffic and junctions lead to constant stop-start driving, the simpler, smoother driving experience is to be welcomed.
There’s a caveat, though, particularly with the Business spec. With nine seats and fewer luxuries than the Flair trim, it’s clearly designed as a people mover for the sort of companies that ply their trade as airport taxi services and the like.
Here, the e-Spacetourer’s relatively limited range could prove a problem. It is using the same 50kWh battery found in cars like the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e and, in this big boxy minibus format, can offer a relatively short 136 miles of range.
While that’s good enough for a day of urban runs, a couple of longer-haul higher-speed journeys to far-flung transport hubs will quickly deplete the battery, especially once it is fully laden with people and luggage. On the positive side, the e-SpaceTourer supports 100kW DC charging, so can be topped up from zero to 80% in around half an hour, and can also be specified with 11kW AC charging.
That lack of range is the price Citroen pays for being one of the first to sell an electric van but when the expected 230-mile-plus Ford Tourneo Custom arrives in 2024, it could become a dealbreaker for business and large families considering an all-electric people mover.
Until then, its low starting price - cheaper than some ICE rivals - the tax advantages and exemption from various congestion and low-emissions zone charges could be enough to balance out its range restraints.
Citroen e-SpaceTourer Business Edition
Price: £35,795 (£37,400 as tested); Motor: Single synchronous electric motor; Battery: 50kWh; Power: 134bhp; Torque: 221lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive; Top speed: 81mph; 0-62mph: 13.1 seconds; Range: 136 miles; Consumption: n/a; Charging: up to 100kW
- Massive space
- Cheaper than ICE rivals
- Smooth EV driving experience
- Very limited range
- Basic specification levels
- Looks and feels like a van