Carzone drives Citroen’s quirky new C3 Hatchback which has just gone on sale
Pros: Standout styling, affordable, economical diesels engines
Cons: Uninspiring handling, styling not for everyone
The C3 was never one of the standout models in Citroen’s range, but that is no longer the case with the newly overhauled 2017 model. Gone are the bland looks of its predecessor, replaced with C4-Cactus-inspired styling and new technology such as a built-in dash camera to bring it up to speed with class leaders like the new Ford Fiesta and Opel Corsa. The new C3 is a marked improvement in our eyes, but can its quirky new looks and platform appeal to reserved Irish buyers? We spent a week driving it in Irish wintry weather to find out.
What is it like?
As far as small hatchback cars go, the new Citroen C3 certainly stands out from the crowd. The C3 borrows styling cues from its bigger brother, the Citroen C4 Cactus, including air bump inserts on the door panels and highly positioned LED daytime running lights up front. As is the case with the C4 Cactus, the new C3 can be customised with nine different body colours and three different roof colours to choose from; our test car being the ‘Orange Power’ colour option with a dark roof and eight spoke alloy wheel combination.
The C3’s interior is rather impressive when you step inside, and the driver’s seat offers a great range of adjustment to allow you to get comfortable, however the lack of an armrest or supportfor changing gears is a little disappointing. The dashboard offers a clean and uncluttered layout, mainly thanks to the standard touch screen infotainment system in the dashboard which controls everything from music to air conditioning, cabin temperature and more. The C3 is fitted with a HD camera behind the rearview mirror inside which means it is possible to record driving and also take photos on the go through Citroen’s Connected Cam App.
The C3 is practical with plenty of storage areas dotted throughout the cabin with several coffee cup holders, a USB point to charge a smartphone and 300 litres of boot space in the rear. There’s plenty of head and leg room for front seat passengers while the rear row is child friendly with good space, ISOFIX mounts and wide opening doors. We liked the presentation of the touch screen display which is easy to use for streaming music and answering phone calls through Bluetooth, although the sensitivity of the touch screen panel could be better.
Citroen is offering the C3 with a choice of three different petrol engines and two diesel engines here in Ireland. The base 1.2-litre petrol is available in three different states of tune with 68bhp, 82bhp and 110bhp options, while we drove the 75bhp 1.6-litre diesel which is likely to be the most popular choice with Irish buyers. Performance isn’t a strong point of this engine as it accelerates quite slowly, however it is economical and cruises well at higher speeds. We achieved 4.5-litres per 100 kilometres (over 60MPG) during our test, and motor tax comes in at €180 for the full year.
Out on the road the C3 offers a comfortable and quiet ride thanks to its soft suspension setup. This means it doesn’t handle as well as other cars in the segment such as the Ford Fiesta with lots of body roll and a lack of overall steering feel. That said, we found that overall ride comfort is strong on longer journeys and the 1.6-litre diesel engine is quiet even at higher motorway speeds. There are three different specifications to choose from with the base ‘Touch’, mid-range ‘Feel’ and the highest specification ‘Flair’ model, which is the example that we drove.
The level of equipment is good from base specification with features such as a reversing camera, blind spot detection system, lane departure warning and even a coffee break alert system which alerts the driver after two hours of driving at speeds over 64km/h. With prices starting at €15,490 for the base 1.2-litre petrol Citroen C3 Touch, it undercuts both the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta on price with a better specification, though we wouldn’t expect its residuals to be as strong as its more popular rivals.
Carzone verdict: 3/5
The new Citroen C3 is very different to the outgoing model and for all the right reasons. It’s well equipped, well priced and comfortable in and out of town, while it’s styling is substantially different to anything else in the small hatchback class. It isn’t as engaging to drive as the class leaders though and its outlandish looks won’t appeal to everyone though. Family buyers seeking an affordable and spacious hatchback, with something a little different will be best pleased with the new C3.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Citroen C3
Prices from: €15,490
Price as tested: €20,790
Annual Road Tax: €180
Engine: 1560cc four-cylinder diesel
Power/Torque: 75hp, 233Nm
Top Speed: 170 km/h
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 300 litres