RESTOR­ING SOME FINE GAL­LIC FLAIR

Buy­ers given some­thing to think about by Citroen with up­dated ver­sion of sec­ond gen­er­a­tion C3

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - JONATHAN CROUCH

CITROEN’S sec­ond gen­er­a­tion C3 su­per­mini has been with us since 2009, but the French brand has never stopped try­ing to im­prove it. In 2013, the car was facelifted and a fru­gal range of three cylin­der Pure Tech petrol units added, bor­rowed from its cousin, the Peu­geot 208.

Now, this car’s diesel range has been re­vi­talised too, the latest gen­er­a­tion Bluehdi units added in to fur­ther im­prove fuel con­sump­tion and re­duce emis­sions.

If Citroen can get that mes­sage across to po­ten­tial buy­ers, it could make all the dif­fer­ence to their sales prospects in this seg­ment.

This five-door C3 cre­ates its own dis­tinct, more laid-back mar­ket niche as some­thing smartly fash­ion­able that of­fers higher qual­ity and greater com­fort than a Fi­esta with­out the po­ten­tial cost of a Polo.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

The sig­nif­i­cant changes to this im­proved sec­ond gen­er­a­tion C3 mostly lie be­neath the bon­net. Citroen has been able to bor­row the light, revy lit­tle three cylin­der ‘Pure Tech’ petrol en­gines and they re­ally trans­form this car’s buy­ing propo­si­tion for green pump buy­ers.

First up is a 1.0-litre 68bhp unit that needs to be revved quite hard if you’re to get any­where near the quoted per­for­mance fig­ures (rest to 62mph in 14.2s en route to just 101mph). Much bet­ter is the 1.2-litre 82bhp ver­sion of this unit, the vari­ant we tried. This de­liv­ers the same dis­tinc­tive three cylin­der thrum but ac­com­pa­nies it with pok­ier per­for­mance.

It also gives you the op­tion of the brand’s ETG semi-au­to­matic gear­box.

On to the latest Bluehdi diesel op­tions: there are two. Most po­ten­tial buy­ers will be look­ing at the 75bhp unit here, but at the top of the range at the prici­est trim level, a 100bhp ver­sion of this fru­gal unit is also of­fered.

And on the move? Small French cars used to ride beau­ti­fully, grip tena­ciously and flow from cor­ner to cor­ner with re­laxed, un­flus­tered mo­tion. As, by and large, this one does.

De­sign and Build

It’s quite smart isn’t it, with sleeker looks that were im­proved by this car’s mid-life facelift, an up­date that brought a bolder front end em­pha­sised by this dou­ble chevron grille.

Own­ers of the orig­i­nal sec­ond gen­er­a­tion ver­sion may also no­tice trendy LED day­time run­ning lights and a body-coloured split­ter in the lower air in­take.

At the rear, there are sleeker tail lights and some neat re­flec­tors fit­ted to the bumper.

As be­fore with this sec­ond gen­er­a­tion C3, fea­tures like the bul­bous roof and the low side win­dow­line give the cabin an airy feel that makes it ap­pear big­ger than it is, some­thing that’ll be fur­ther em­pha­sised if you get your­self a car fit­ted with a clever ‘Panoramic Zenith wind­screen’.

Out back, and rather as­ton­ish­ingly given the tight ex­te­rior di­men­sions, you’ll find one of the largest lug­gage bays in the su­per­mini seg­ment, though there’s quite a high load­ing lip to ne­go­ti­ate be­fore you can ac­cess it.

At 300-litres in size, it’s 10% big­ger than a Fi­esta’s boot and of­fers nearly as much room as you’d find in a Ford Fo­cus from the next class up.

Mar­ket and Model

List pric­ing sug­gests that you’ll be pay­ing some­where in the £11,000 to £17,000 bracket across the five-door-only C3 line-up.

There’s a choice of four trim lev­els - ‘VT’, ‘VTR+’, ‘Se­lec­tion’ and ‘Ex­clu­sive’. At the bot­tom of the range, there’s a £2,500 pre­mium to go from the base 1.0-litre petrol ver­sion to the base 1.6-litre Bluehdi diesel, that model com­ing with a £13,500 price tag which might be bet­ter spent on the al­most-as-fru­gal VTI 82 petrol vari­ant we tried.

Fur­ther up the range, the Bluehdi 100 diesel en­gine is im­pres­sively ef­fi­cient but costs nearly £17,000. If you want an au­to­matic with Citroen’s slightly jerky ETG semi-auto unit, you’ll have to have the Puretech 82 petrol en­gine and VTR+ trim — and a price tag of around £14,000.

Which­ever model you opt for, you should find this Citroen to be de­cently equipped.

Cost of Own­er­ship

Al­most ev­ery fash­ion­able type of tech­nol­ogy has been thrown at this car to drive its run­ning costs down and, as you’d ex­pect, the best re­turns can be achieved from the Bluehdi diesel mod­els. Go for the en­try-level Bluehdi 75 vari­ant and you can ex­pect 80.7mpg on the com­bined cy­cle and 90g/km of CO2. If you’re able to stretch to the top Bluehdi 100 model, then the fig­ures are even bet­ter — 83.1mpg and 87g/ km of CO2.

Don’t au­to­mat­i­cally sign on the dot­ted line for a diesel though, par­tic­u­larly if you don’t cover a huge num­ber of an­nual miles. In the Pure Tech petrol range, the en­try-level 68bhp 1.0-litre unit de­liv­ers 65.7mpg on the com­bined cy­cle and 99g/km of CO2, while even the far pok­ier 1.2-litre VTI 82bhp unit we tried man­ages 61.4mpg and 107g/km.

Sum­mary

Most look­ing at a car of this kind come in search of su­per-ef­fi­cient run­ning costs: and with the clever Pure Tech three cylin­der petrol op­tions and Bluehdi diesel units now on of­fer, that’s been achieved.

With this tech­nol­ogy in place, it’s high time small car buy­ers took a fresh look at what’s on of­fer here. True, as su­per­mi­nis go, this isn’t an ortho­dox choice, but then that’s part of its ap­peal.

Over­all, the C3 is at last a strong con­tender in the su­per­mini mar­ket­place. Best of all per­haps, it’s a car that’s distinc­tively Citroen.

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