Here’s C3 - and not before time

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THE C3 was a game-changer for Citroen. Launched in 2002, it catapulted the brand to the top of the supermini class with a car which offered space and value.

THE C3 was a game-changer for Citroen. Launched in 2002, it catapulted the brand to the top of the supermini class with a car which offered space and value.

Some rivals gave better performance and others offered more quality but as an all-rounder, the C3 was hard to beat.

But Citroen didn’t keep up with the competition and the model, though still selling in respectable numbers, failed to match fresher and sleeker rivals.

But here comes the new C3, a model which seems destined to restore our faith in the brand. It is the boldest Citroen of recent years, borrowing some of the styling cues from the company’s upmarket wing DS.

It has huge door panels which seem to split opinion. Some people love them, saying they look good and offer car park protection. Others reject it as a gimmick. Either way, it makes a statement and helps C3 stand out in a crowded market.

It has a hard act to follow: C3 sold more than 3.6m cars and was more popular with drivers than it was with critics.

But new C3 seems capable of handling the pressure. It is a well-priced model, costing from £10,995, undercutting a series of key rivals, and it has many of the features that younger, trendier hi-tech drivers insist upon such as ConnectedCAM, more of which later.

So, how exactly does C3 shape up? It’s just under four metres long, similar to a Fiesta, Jazz or Polo and it competes in what the industry calls the B-segment, or what we call superminis.

This is a market full of quality and style, so the C3 has a job to make a mark, but it has enough chutzpah to succeed.

The cabin, for a start, is super. Citroen dashboards used to be cheap and unimpressive but this model is fantastic with unusual fabric-covered surfaces and easy-to-fathom controls.

It also has ConnectedCAM, an on-board HD camera that allows drivers to share their road-trip photographs and videos directly with friends and family. This is a world premiere aimed at the Facebook and Twitter generation.

The car is customisable to ensure each owner can create a bespoke look that suits their individual style. This is such an important feature these days, especially for younger drivers who like to stand out.

The exterior has a two-tone paint option, with a choice of three roof colours and touches of colour around the car such as fog lights, door mirrors, rear quarter panels and on the Airbump panels). Inside, customers have a choice of four interiors.

On the road, the ride and handling isn’t as sharp as some of its rivals but that means it offers greater comfort. In fact, Citroen call it the Advanced Comfort programme with especially comfortable seats, a panoramic glass sunroof that fills the cabin with light, colours and fabrics inspired by travel and home interior design, a seven-inch touchscreen that groups together all of the key vehicle functions and a keyless entry and start system.

It also has an advanced driver assistance system including voice controlled 3D navigation, a reversing camera, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. Finally, the efficient, high-performance powertrain options continue the technological theme with PureTech petrol and BlueHDi Diesel engines.

As an all-round package, C3 is much-improved and is a car which will find favour with many, especially the young.

Citroen C3 Flair PureTech 110

THE CAR FACTS

Price: £17,485. From £10,995.

Engine: A 1,199cc three-cylinder petrol engine

Power: 110ps

Torque: 205Nm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual mode

Top speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 9.3 seconds

Economy: 57.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 110g/km

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles

Summary: A characterful car which is easy to personalise and offers decent power and economy.

Rivals:

Volkswagen Polo: A more grown-up car in style and quality but it costs substantially more.

Ford Fiesta: Better to drive but the C3 edges it in terms of looks and value for money.

Honda Jazz: A very practical car which is commendable but more expensive than the C3

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