Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are two battery options available for the Citroën ë-Relay, starting with a 37kWh battery pack that gives you a modest official range of 73 miles. A larger 75kWh battery increases that to a more respectable 154 miles, but that's still less than the Fiat E-Ducato and Ford E-Transit can manage.
Power comes from a 121bhp electric motor, which replaces the diesel engine in the regular Citroën Relay. That's at the lower end of the power spectrum for your average large van, but as an electric van with instant torque (192lb ft), it should do the job for most drivers. That said, the ë-Relay doesn’t surge forwards when you put your foot down with quite the same enthusiasm as some rivals – instead, it limps to life.
There is a slight slowing down as you lift off the accelerator, but it’s not enough to be useful unless you’re able to plan hundreds of metres ahead to bring your speed down. Instead, you’ll have to use the conventional brakes more often than you would in rivals that offer several degrees of regeneration.
Big vans usually have a hard suspension set-up to cope with the heavy payloads they carry, but the ë-Relay doesn’t feel all that uncomfortable. It rides well and can even handle a twisty road with a minimum amount of fuss and body roll. The steering is quite heavy (even by large van standards), but it does lighten up as the speed increases.
The ë-Relay has front-wheel drive, and that means you can hear more of the electric motor than in the the rear-wheel-drive E-Transit. It’s not particularly noisy, but coupled with a higher level of road noise and the sound of wind whipping its way around the van’s large wing mirrors (especially at motorway speeds), it is noiser than the more refined E-Transit and eSprinter.