In the e-SpaceTourer, the double Chevron brand brings us a large BEV People Carrier. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
The options for full-electric power are growing in the sector for really large MPVs. Here's Citroen's take on this concept, the e-SpaceTourer. In 50kWh form, it won't go particularly far on a single charge, but it'll seat up to nine, help you move house or function as an executive minibus. All without using a drop of fuel.
Very soon, no segment of the automotive market will lack full-EV model options. One of these sectors lately gaining BEV models has been that for large People Carriers. This isn't really because manufacturers think this to be much of a potential growth area. It's more because really big MPVs are always based on the kind of mid-sized vans that car makers, pressurised by governments, are starting to offer in full-electric form these days. The Mercedes Vito, Peugeot Expert, Vauxhall Vivaro and Citroen Dispatch LCVs can all now be had in full-EV form. So their MPV counterparts (the Mercedes V-Class, the Peugeot Traveller, the Vauxhall Vivaro Life and the Citroen Space Tourer) also get the BEV treatment. The Peugeot, the Vauxhall and the Citroen are essentially the same underneath, sharing the same PSA Group powertrain; it's the Citroen model, badged the 'e-SpaceTourer' that we look at here.
Big People Carriers are largely used for suburban duties, which is just as well because this car's not much good for anything else. A huge heavy People Carrier relying on a battery designed to sustain an electric supermini was never going to travel very far between charges and, sure enough, this e-Space Tourer's 50kWh battery pack takes this Citroen only 136 miles between charges. So you're going to need to think hard if you're going anywhere more than 60 miles or so away, unless you've the time for a potentially lengthy recharging stop before your return journey. This is annoying because this car's LCV counterpart, the Dispatch van, has the option of a larger 75kWh battery that would add around 60 miles of additional range. At the time of this test in early 2022, that wasn't being offered on the e-Space Tourer. Using this MPV is straightforward. You turn the key in the ignition, wait for the starting beep, then flick the gear toggle into Drive. There's a drive-mode selector that allows drivers to switch between ECO, NORMAL and POWER modes. There's 136hp on tap and there's also a 'B' option that ploughs extra energy back into the battery, offering more resistance while you're slowing down. Top speed is just 84mph.
Apart from the badge work and the charging flap, it'll be difficult for your neighbours to spot that you've switched your big MPV to full-electric power. This big Citroen is clearly van-derived, but the looks are modern and not too LCV-like. This MPV comes with medium-length (4.95m) 'M' and long 'XL' body lengths. Inside, you get an nine-seater 3-3-3 layout (with a 3-person bench seat at the front) and you're going to need to slide the rear two rows about to facilitate legroom if a full complement of adults are aboard. The battery installation hasn't compromised passenger or cargo space in any way. All the rear seats can be removed to reveal a van-like cargo area, but they've heavy and awkward to lift and you'd need a big garage to store them in. At the wheel, there's a driver selector toggle where the gear lever would normally be and you get a power flow gauge instead of a rev counter in the instrument binnacle. What about luggage capacity? Well the space you get with all three rows of seats in place obviously varies depending on the body style you've chosen. With the mid-range 'M' body shape, there's 627mm of length from the back of the third seating row to the tailgate, which means you get 700-litres of cargo space up to the level of the load bay cover - or as much as 900-litres if you were to load to the roof. With the top 'XL' body shape, you'll have an enormous 1,060-litres to play with up to parcel shelf level - or up to 1,500-litres if you were to load to the roof.
There's a single trim level for this 9-seat 50kWh e-Space Tourer model - 'Business Edition' - but it's offered with a choice of either the mid-sized 'Medium' body shape or (for hardly any more) the largest 'XL' version. Both qualify for the government's Plug-in Car Grant - and therefore can be yours for around £30,000 for the 'M' version (it's £200 more for the 'XL' variant). Citroen still isn't offering the option of its larger 75kWh battery pack that you can get (and which gives you much greater range) in the brand's mechanically-identical Dispatch van. We'd like to see that change if this option can be introduced affordably. As you'd expect, pricing here is pretty comparable to what you'd pay for this model's mechanically-identical Stellantis Group counterparts, the Peugeot e-Traveller and the Vauxhall Vivaro e-Life. The equipment levels here are pretty comparable too. This model's 'Business Edition' spec gives you quite a lot. Specifically, you can tick off daytime running lights, front fog lamps, auto headlamps and wipers, rear parking sensors and a full-size spare wheel. Inside, there's air conditioning and cruise control. Infotainment's taken care of by a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system including a DAB radio, USB and aux-in points, Bluetooth 'phone connectivity and the further opportunity to link in your handset and view favourite apps via the 'MirrorLink' Android Auto and 'Apple CarPlay' systems.
Because the e-Space Tourer supports up to 100kW rapid charging technology, an 80 per cent charge will take just 30 minutes. This EV People Carrier also features a 7kW on-board charger as standard. A full charge from a 7.4kW domestic Wallbox takes 7 hours 30 minutes. With the alternative 11kW wallbox, you can reduce that to four and three-quarter hours. For peace of mind, the lithium-ion battery pack in this model comes with an eight year/100,000 mile warranty, for up to 70% of the initial battery capacity. To get close to the quoted 136 mile range figure, you'll need to engage 'Eco' mode frequently - which reduces power output to 80hp. The included 'Citroen Connect Box' package allows the driver to set up deferred charging or to pre-condition the vehicle via the MyCitroen mobile app on their smartphone. To enhance the ownership experience of this Citroen, the brand has partnered with POLAR, the UK's largest public charging station provider, to give customers a free six-month subscription to POLAR Plus. This brings with it the convenience of having access to more than 5,000 public charging stations across the UK.
Potentially, the e-SpaceTourer is an excellent product. We like the way that the battery powertrain has been built into this People Carrier without any compromise to interior space. It's quiet and well built, looks contemporary and is well equipped. The elephant in the room though, is the 136 mile driving range, which for quite a few families and business folk, simply won't be enough for a vehicle of this type. Hopefully, a version with Citroen's larger 75kWh battery will be along shortly. If you can live with the range though - as some city based families and business users might be able to - there's potentially a lot to like here, though it's less easy to see why you'd choose the Citroen version of this design, rather than the near-identical Peugeot e-Traveller or Vauxhall e-Vivaro Life models. If the range and the deal is right for you though, this big French MPV might be worth a look.
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