Citroën C3

Ur­ban­ite su­per­mini takes to the open road to test its long-dis­tance cruis­ing po­ten­tial


It’s sur­pris­ingly good on long-haul trips

Atrip to Crewe to see the new Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT loomed and I toyed with the idea of swap­ping the C3 for one of the more suit­able long-dis­tance cars on our test f leet. But in the end, I didn’t, de­cid­ing that this was an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to see how the C3 fared out­side of its ur­ban re­mit.

It’s fair to say it didn’t have the com­fort or re­fine­ment of a Bent­ley grand tourer, but then what do you ex­pect at a frac­tion of the price? None­the­less, Citroën has a sharp fo­cus on of­fer­ing com­fort­able cars and the C3 ab­so­lutely bears that out. There are very few cars in which I don’t get fid­gety or suf­fer from the com­mon af­flic­tion of ‘numb bum’ on a 100-mile-plus jour­ney. But with the C3, it never hap­pened. I was happy all the way to Crewe and back to Lon­don again, via the Cotswolds. Even bet­ter, the C3’s bench-like seats, in­spired by those in the C4 Cac­tus, look dif­fer­ent from al­most ev­ery other car mak­ers’ out there. So they’re not only in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able but also orig­i­nal in de­sign.

A few weeks later, I headed to the depths of Suf­folk for a yoga re­treat. From my house, there is not the lux­ury of a di­rect mo­tor­way route. In­stead, I tra­versed mo­tor­ways, A-roads and B-roads be­fore a fi­nal stretch on the never-end­ing A143. The jour­ney had the same re­sult: I was com­fort­able through­out.

The C3 can also hold its own on higher-speed long jour­neys. Our car’s 1.2-litre Puretech 110 engine is the most pow­er­ful in the range. That equates to a 0-62mph of 9.3sec – not enough to do more than moder­ately paced mo­tor­way cruis­ing, but suf­fi­cient. To get up to speed re­quires some per­sis­tent foot-down driv­ing, but it’s never to the point where you feel that you’re des­per­ately will­ing the C3 to ac­cel­er­ate more quickly.

The other up­side of long-dis­tance jour­neys in the C3 is also the big­gest down­side for its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of towns and cities. The gear­box feels notchy and rough when chang­ing through its lower cogs. This makes stop-start ur­ban jour­neys less fluid than you’d hope. So, of course, with no low-end gearchang­ing nec­es­sary out of town, this isn’t a fac­tor.

The Citroën also has firm rear sus­pen­sion, which causes it to crash hard over speed bumps. That’s un­avoid­able to an ex­tent on roads like the one on which I live, which have the worst kind of speed bumps, but ri­val hatch­backs such as the Ford Fi­esta feel bet­ter damped. Again, this is much less of a fac­tor on longer jour­neys out­side towns. So I’ve touched on its long-dis­tance ca­pa­bil­i­ties and my main woes on short jour­neys. But as my daily driver, cov­er­ing 20 miles a day in the sub­urbs of Lon­don, this is a car I’ve be­come fond of. I’m now used to that less-than-bril­liant ride and those not-as-smooth-as-i’d-like gearchanges and I’m en­joy­ing the C3.

It’s also very prac­ti­cal. The boot’s ca­pac­ity is 300 litres, which is more than the Fi­esta’s, and it is cleanly shaped for op­ti­mum space. My Volk­swa­gen Golf-own­ing mum, on see­ing the C3’s boot af­ter a trip to a gar­den cen­tre, re­marked on how spa­cious it is. On that same visit, my mum, dad, part­ner and I piled into the C3 for a short drive for a Sun­day roast. My 6ft 2in part­ner drove us back home, with my 5ft 4in mum sit­ting com­fort­ably be­hind him, demon­strat­ing a re­spectable amount of space for all oc­cu­pants.

It has also been very us­able for trans­port­ing my two-year-old niece in her car seat. And if any­one’s seal of ap­proval counts, it’s hers. She said, on first see­ing the C3: “I like your car. Nice wheels.”

Smart seats are comfy; there’s room in rear, de­spite tall driver

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