Citroën C3 road test

Posted on December 6th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

A great return to form for Citroën in the small car segment.

Citroën C3 road test

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What is it?

Citroën’s attempt to get back on the car buyer’s radar after the deeply dull previous C3 supermini. The new one is a very different proposition.

How safe is it?

Pretty safe. It’s impressive that every new C3 gets a lane departure warning system, speed limit recognition and warning, plus driver break alert and six airbags.

Who should buy one?
It’s not as good to drive as a Ford Fiesta, but if you value comfort and style then the new C3 is a very capable and characterful supermini.

Road test by Paul Barker 6 December 2016

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Citroën C3 road test

Citroën, true to its traditions, isn’t looking to take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta as the best handling car in the segment; it has the more premium DS3 model for that. Rather the new C3 is a comfortable and well designed car inside and out that is looking to re-establish Citroën in a sector of the market it’s lost some ground in thanks to the very forgettable previous C3.
The steering is light, which is great around town but less so on the twistier roads that admittedly won’t make up so much of the C3’s natural environment, and the pay-off for a comfortable ride quality that absorbs bumps nicely is that there is some body roll, accentuated for passengers by the absence of grab handles.
It’s reasonably refined, too, without being class-leading, and the engine range covers 68hp, 82hp and 110hp petrol engines and 75hp or 100hp diesels, with all achieving an official combined fuel economy of over 60mpg. The most popular engine is likely to be the 82hp 1.2, which offers enough performance to pick through urban traffic, and can hold its own at higher speeds.
The manual gearbox isn’t the most pleasant shift, with the long throw increasing the possibility for fluffing a change if rushed, while the optional automatic fitted to the top petrol engine and coming a month behind the C3’s January 2017 launch is, despite much improvement, still a touch jerky and lacking the finesse of most modern autos.
But visibility is good all-round, thanks in part to a driving position that feels higher than rival cars, brought on by the C3 being a bit more jacked up and having a higher stance than it appears in pictures.
An attempt to appeal more to younger buyers also means customisation is key, with the opportunity to combine a choice of nine colours with three different roof options, creating 36 combinations, joined by four different interior trims.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Citroën C3 road test

Working from the back, the 300-litre boot matches the Renault Clio’s and is a touch larger than the Ford Fiesta’s or Peugeot 208’s. However, it’s worth noting the hefty lip items will need to be lifted over to drop them into the luggage area.
Rear passengers will find reasonable legroom, as long as the driver isn’t too tall, and decent headroom.
Up front, there’s a characterful array of materials and textures on display, and it’s clear Citroën has gone all-out to make the cabin an interesting and lively space.
Everything feels chunky and well put together and the door bins are a decent size, but a bit more stowage space in the central area wouldn’t go amiss.
The seven-inch touchscreen system on all bar the entry Touch trim is a frustration, though. The company has successfully decluttered the interior, but it means switching between screens to do something as basic as changing the temperature settings or radio station; doubly frustrating if you’ve also got the £500 optional satnav.

SAFETY
Citroën C3 road test

The new C3 is yet to be Euro NCAP tested, but the lack of an autonomous emergency braking system makes a maximum five-star rating unlikely. It will be optional shortly after launch. But Citroën should be commended for fitting a speed limit reading and warning system to all models, likewise lane departure warning. Top-spec cars get Citroën’s new video recording system that will automatically record 30 seconds before and a minute after an accident.

EQUIPMENT
Citroën C3 road test

Equipment on the base model isn’t great, such as no alloy wheels, though DAB radio, Bluetooth, the safety kit mentioned above and cruise control are included.
The mid-level Feel trim adds 16-inch alloys, coloured roof, the Apple CarPlay media system, climate control and the seven-inch touchscreen. Top-spec Flair brings the airbump feature designed to protect the doors from car park bashes, along with a range of appealing kit such as auto lights and rear parking sensors.

COSTS

Citroën C3 road test

Citroën is pricing the new C3 competitively, starting from below £11,000, though it’s worth noting that there is a pretty hefty step of over £2000 between the entry Touch and middle Feel trims, and a slightly healthier £1050 journey from the Feel to the top spec Flair.
The diesel models all have a CO2 emission figure of under 100g/km, which currently means zero Vehicle Excise Duty, with the most efficient model being the 75hp BlueHDi-branded diesel.

WE SAY
A great return to form for Citroën in the small car segment.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £13,690 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 13.0 seconds
Economy: 60.1mpg combined
Insurance: Group TBC
Tax: Band B (£0 first year, then £20)

Figures for Puretec 82 Feel manual