RESTORING SOME FINE GALLIC FLAIR
Buyers given something to think about by Citroen with updated version of second generation C3
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.
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.
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.