Have you got a note from your mum?

The C3’s ex­cused sporti­ness, and all the bet­ter for it. We’re lov­ing its chilled-out com­fort. By James Tay­lor

CAR (UK) - - Our Cars - @JamesTay­lorCAR

me wit­ter on about the Citroën C3 for four months now, but more than a few other mem­bers of the

CAR team have also re­cently put miles un­der its softly sprung wheels, so it seems a timely junc­ture to let you know what they’ve been say­ing about it too.

A well-rested Ben Barry praised the C3’s epi­cally comfy seats: ‘There’s some­thing fun­da­men­tally French about them; no-one else does seats quite like that. They’re sup­port­ive as well as com­fort­able, and I like the way they’re canted back, with a rel­a­tively low driv­ing po­si­tion.’

Mark Wal­ton liked the soft seats and the softer sus­pen­sion, too: ‘I think the last time I sat in a car that felt so spongy, with marsh­mal­lowy seats, was my dad’s Re­nault 30, circa 1982. It’s a credit to Citroën’s engi­neers that the sup­ple­ness of the C3 doesn’t cross the line to be­come un­con­trolled or wal­lowy. Nor­mally I find soft cars a bit vomit-in­duc­ing, but I re­ally liked driv­ing the C3.’

Ben B too liked the way the C3’s sec­ondary ride agree­ably bil­lows with the road sur­face, but wasn’t so en­am­oured with the pri­mary ride, sug­gest­ing it would ben­e­fit from a stiffer struc­ture. As Chris Chilton put it, ‘It’s great to see Citroën em­brac­ing the art of the lope.’ Al­though when the C3 joined our su­per­mini Gi­ant Test July 2017), it ceded vic­tory to Suzuki’s more nim­ble Swift, Chris feel­ing that for all the C3’s bound­less feel­good fac­tor it’s just a bit too lack­ing in steer­ing pre­ci­sion and body con­trol.

But ev­ery­one who’s been in the C3 has admired its idio­syn­cratic charisma – there isn’t an­other su­per­mini out there with a char­ac­ter quite like it. Wal­ton likes the way the Citroen ‘carves it­self a char­ac­ter with­out re­sort­ing to “sporti­ness”, like vir­tu­ally ev­ery other man­u­fac­turer on the planet.’

‘The C3 is about as sporty as a baguette,’ Mark says, ‘yet the way that three-cylin­der en­gine thrums, it feels like it has a dis­tinct iden­tity that’s very will­ing, very en­thu­si­as­tic, cheer­ful even – with­out ac­tu­ally try­ing to be fast.’

Tim Pol­lard likes the spirit of the C3, if not the ex­e­cu­tion. ‘So much about this car is true to Citroën’s her­itage: the cud­dly style, an im­pres­sively soft, cushy ride and its gen­tle gait. For me, a lot of that good­ness is un­done by some shonky ba­sics – the baggy gearchange spoils ev­ery jour­ney. The shift from first to sec­ond mea­sures more than six inches!’

Ben Barry shares a few of the frus­tra­tions I’ve en­coun­tered: an un­re­spon­sive ig­ni­tion but­ton and the stop-start sys­tem con­spire to fire the en­gine up again just as you’re try­ing to switch it off, the nar­row power­band de­mands con­cen­tra­tion to make un-shunty progress, and some of the touch­screen in­ter­face’s el­e­ments feel wil­fully ob­struc­tive.

None­the­less, as Ben notes, ‘there are a few lit­tle bits you could look at and say “I’d have done that dif­fer­ently,” but ul­ti­mately it’s one of those cars where its char­ac­ter makes up for all its flaws. It’s not pre­ten­tious, it’s not showy, it’s very easy to like. I’d quite hap­pily have one in the house­hold.’

Ev­ery­one seems to agree – there’s no short­age of nits to pick, but the C3’s charm out­weighs the vast ma­jor­ity of its short­com­ings. Which is ex­actly how I feel about it too.

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