Citroen has regained its mojo of late and the new C3 supermini is proof positive.
The outgoing car sold well enough, but it was bland – something that could never be said of the third generation C3.
Funky and distinctive, it takes some styling cues from its big brother, the C4 Cactus, so it boasts features such as Airbumps on the doors, the two-tier headlight signature, straps for internal door handles and a clutter-free dashboard.
With its chunky, cheeky styling, it certainly will have urban appeal, but it’s the opportunity for personalisation that also sets it apart.
Thanks to its “floating” roof, it’s possible to specify two-tone paintjobs. In fact, there are 36 colour combinations available, meaning that you’d very unlucky to end up with the same look as your neighbour. There are also three interior trims.
If we had to spec up a car we’d go for the Polar White body, Sport Red roof and Colorado ‘Hype’ ambiance inside, though Power Orange with an Onyx black roof and a Red ‘Urban’ ambience interior looks good too. Frankly, there’s a lot of fun to be had configuring your C3 before you even get on the road. Oh, and we’re saving the best bit till later, so read on…
The new C3 is available with a thrummy 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine with three power outputs (68PS, 82 and 110), plus a lazier 1.6-litre diesel unit (75 and 100).
There are three trim levels – Touch, Feel and Flair – while the range starts at £10,995.
There’s a reasonable amount of tech as standard, including cruise control, DAB radio, Bluetooth and lane departure warning, but you have to move up to mid-level ‘Feel’ (from £13,045) before you get a 7-inch touchscreen with full connectivity, alloy wheels and wheel arch extensions.
We tested two top-of-the-range ‘Flair’ versions of the C3, with a PureTech 100 petrol engine and a BlueHDi 100 diesel unit, both mated to 5-speed manual gearboxes. The engines are tried and tested across the Citroen, Peugeot and DS, and highly recommended.
The petrol unit is capable of 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 117mph, while 61.4mpg is possible on paper, and CO2 emissions are low 103g/km.
The diesel has a top speed of 115mph, it can reach 62mph in 10.6 seconds and is capable of 76.3mpg, while CO2 emissions are just 95g/km.
The choice you make depends on your regular driving patterns. For more local, lower average speed journeys you might be better off with the petrol version, but if you spend hours cruising on the motorway, the more relaxed diesel would be best.
With light steering, good visibility, comfy seats and plenty of space up front, the C3 is a classic and classy supermini.
Luggage space is a decent 300 litres (rising to 922 litres with the rear seats folded down), but taller adults may struggle for leg and headroom in the back (especially if you opt for the full-length panoramic sunroof).
The handling is good too, unless you try to drive it like a hot hatch when body roll becomes more apparent and it’s slightly unsettled over rougher surfaces.
That said, the C3 isn’t likely to be bought for its ability to be driven at speed over challenging roads – this is a car that will spend most of its time pootling around and looking very cool.
Now we come to the C3’s pièce de résistance. In what Citroen calls a world first, it’s available with a built-in GPS-enabled dash camera, called ConnectedCam.
Concealed within the housing for the rear-view mirror, it allows you (though preferably your front seat passenger) to take pictures of the road ahead, or short videos. Just press a big button below the mirror.
So, whether it’s a bizarre car up ahead, a traffic jam or an unbelievable sunset, there’s no need to miss it. And if that’s not enough, you can instantly share your media via social media using a free app.
With GPS as part of ConnectedCAM, you can also geolocate your vehicle and store the position so that you can find it easily, so no more hunting around dark multi-storey car parks when you’ve forgotten where you parked the car.
Most importantly, in the event of vehicle impact the system switches on automatically to record and save. The video can run for up to 1.5 minutes (30 seconds before and 60 after) and the footage can be useful as evidence.
As you can see, the C3 has a lot to offer and the headline figure of £10,995 sounds good, but the reality is that you’re going to have to spend closer to £15,000 in order to get the must-have options including the touchscreen, Airbumps and ConnectedCam.
Verdict: The new Citroen C3 is a breath of fresh air. Funky, comfortable, easy to drive and boasting a pioneering piece of tech, it will rightly be on many people’s supermini shortlists in 2017.