Citroen takes the quirky approach to the supermini market
This is the car Citroen wants you to buy instead of a Ford Fiesta. But rather than trying to beat the Fiesta at its own game, the new C3 ramps up the comfort levels with an easy-does-it suspension set-up.
On sale from the start of next year, the C3 sits on a revised structure whose integral crashworthiness has been boosted – to the benefit of those both inside and out. It’s also pretty distinctive to look at, in a way that has a touch of the love-it-or-hate-it going on but certainly won’t be tainted with any is-that-one-of-them-Micra-things action.
Citroën C3 1.2 Puretech 82 Flair
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 104mph
Fuel economy: 60.1mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
When we canvassed opinion on the C3, at any rate, it got more smiles than scowls. And it you’re a grumpy old man, or probably in reality a minimum of any one of these things, you’ll be pacified to hear that the mouldings on the sides of the Flair model tested here can be deleted for free.
Said Flair model is the range-topper, so we gloried in a cabin featuring a much-improved media system with top-line smartphone pairing as standard. This allows you to use your phone as a sat-nav via the 7.0” screen, so why you’d choose to splurge £500 on an integrated system is a bit of a mystery. Our test vehicle had it, however – though having used it, why you’d splurge £500 on it is more of a mystery to us than ever.
Something you’ll hopefully never use is a standard-fit dash cam which will automatically record 30 seconds’ footage both before and after an accident. The C3 is actually the first car in the world to get this simple and potentially very worthwhile feature – whether crash-for-cash scumbags will know not to target the vehicle is doubtful, but the good news is that your car’s evidence could help put them where they belong.
Well, in prison, at any rate. Obviously, where they really belong is face-down in a canal, but there’s only so much you can do.
Space and practicality
If you were to take the above a little too literally, the good news is that the C3 has a fairly generous boot in which to transport the insurance fraudster you’ve just murdered. If your friends are a bit lanky, however, you’ll only be able to fit them in the back seats by cutting their heads off, which isn’t the idea at all.
It’s different up front, where a very good driving position means getting comfy is a breeze. Getting up to speed is not a breeze, however, more of a gale – the engine in our test car was perfectly peppy around town, but on faster roads it needed a lot of revs.
Engine and driving
Said engine is the mid-range option in a choice of three petrol units. The C3 is a rarity in that there’s no diesel model at all, but the 1.2 Puretch 82 unit sings away cheerfully – unless you ask it to settle on the motorway, in which case it moans like a frustrated teenager. The lack of a sixth speed in the manual box doesn’t help here.
Keep it in its natural habitat, though, and the C3 can romp around town with the best of them. It doesn’t pepper you with bumps, though body roll is your constant companion, but it’s easy to drive and that’s what it feels like Citroen was aiming for.
It also feels like Citroen was aiming to make the C3 stand out from the crowd, and it’s certainly mission accomplished there. While there’s a more conservative mainstream rival waiting to beat it in every major area, as a whole it’s a perfectly decent car – and when you factor in its character, you’ve got a more attractive proposition than you might originally expect.
We think it would be more attractive still with the range-topping Puretech 110 engine, however. The 81bhp unit is one of this car’s weak points – adding a turbo, we think, would make all the difference.