Citroen’s dif­fer­ent take with new C3

South Wales Echo - - MOTORS -

CITROEN de­scribes it­self as a “main­stream brand that likes to shake up the rules” and that’s ex­actly what the French man­u­fac­turer has done with its best-sell­ing C3 model.

With more than 3.6 mil­lion global sales since its launch back in 2002 the su­per­mini has al­ways been a pop­u­lar choice, but the lat­est third gen­er­a­tion model adds plenty of ex­tra ap­peal with new state-of-the art tech­nol­ogy, lots of per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions and a sporty new de­sign.

The new C3 is a guar­an­teed head­turner with sharp styling cues in­clud­ing two-tier head­light sig­na­tures, a dou­ble chrome front trim that in­cor­po­rated the com­pany chevrons, a ‘float­ing’ roof ef­fect thanks to black side pil­lars, a low­ered roofline to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics, 3D rear lights, a new C3 badge, smart al­loys and the op­tion of Air­bump side pro­tec­tion pan­els.

There are three roof colours and nine body colours to choose from of­fer­ing a choice of 36 colour com­bi­na­tions, along with three in­te­rior op­tions called Stan­dard, Ur­ban Red or Hype Colorado.

The in­te­rior of the five-door, fiveseater is clut­ter-free with plenty of on­board tech­nol­ogy as stan­dard. There are three trim grades called Touch (from £10,995), Feel (£13,045) and Flair (£14,795) and de­pend­ing which spec is se­lected cus­tomers can ex­pect to see the likes of Citroen’s Con­nect DAB ra­dio with six speak­ers, Blue­tooth, a seven-inch voice and touch ac­ti­vated touch­screen with sat nav, Mirror Screen with Mirror Link and Ap­ple CarPlay, au­to­matic air con­di­tion­ing and a rather in­ge­nious sys­tem called Con­nect­edCAM.

This sys­tem which is stan­dard on Flair mod­els and op­tional on Feel (£380) uses a fully in­te­grated cam­era lo­cated be­hind the rear view mirror. For fun and games it can cap­ture pho­tos and video to be shared with friends, but on a more im­por­tant note if the car is in­volved in an ac­ci­dent it records the 30 sec­onds be­fore and 60 sec­onds af­ter im­pact and this can be used as ev­i­dence in any court ac­tion that may fol­low.

Cus­tomers can select from five en­gines – a trio of PureTech three cylin­der petrol en­gines with 68, 82 and 110bhp, or two BlueHDi diesel vari­ants of­fer­ing 75 or 100bhp. All mod­els are man­ual al­though an au­to­matic ver­sion will be of­fered from next Fe­bru­ary.

We tried a cou­ple of mod­els on coun­try lanes and mo­tor­ways near the Malvern Hills and both had their own in­di­vid­ual ap­peal.

First up was the C3 Flair BlueHDi 100 diesel priced at £17,095 (£18,555 with op­tions). This car can reach from 0-62mph in 10.6 sec­onds, topped out at 115mph, can de­liver com­bined fuel econ­omy of 76.3mpg and has car­bon emis­sions of just 95g/km.

This first thing to say about the new C3, apart from its funky and dash­ing ap­pear­ance, is how spa­cious the in­te­rior is. Even with the front seats pushed quite a way back, there is am­ple leg room for back seat pas­sen­gers. In fact, rear leg space has been in­creased by an ad­di­tional 22mm.

There is a bright and mod­ern feel to the car with all con­trols and read­outs ideally po­si­tioned for driver use. There are a num­ber of handy stor­age op­tions scat­tered through­out the car in­clud­ing a com­pact glove­box, cup hold­ers, door pock­ets that are lined with a light colour so items can eas­ily be seen and a gen­er­ously-sized boot with a ca­pac­ity of 300 litres that is in­creased to 922 litres with the rear seats dropped flat.

Com­fort was one of the key ar­eas ad­dressed by Citroen when de­vel­op­ing the new C3 and the car boats up­dated sus­pen­sion, new power steer­ing and im­proved aero­dy­nam­ics to help keep noise and vi­bra­tion lev­els to a min­i­mum.

The 1.6-litre diesel pow­er­train de­liv­ered plenty of bite and there was a con­stant sup­ply of power on tap which helped to make light work of over­tak­ing. It also coped ad­mirable with any steep climbs. The road-hold­ing was as­sured and the steer­ing nice and pre­cise. There was a lit­tle en­gine noise when pushed hard, but that was my only slight gripe … if I was be­ing par­tic­u­larly picky.

Next up was the C3 Feel stop/start PureTech 82 petrol ver­sion priced at £13,745, in­creased to £15,720 with op­tions added. This model reaches 62mph from a stand­ing start in 13.0 sec­onds with a top speed of 104mph. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial stats it can achieve com­bined fuel econ­omy of 60.1mpg with car­bon emis­sions of 109g/km.

Once again this lit­tle three-pot en­gine was great fun. It was lively and fizzed across the Tar­mac. It did strug­gle a lit­tle when climb­ing hills and sev­eral gear changes were nec­es­sary, but apart from that the car was a pure de­light to drive as it whizzed through the five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion.

The petrol model is slightly more thirsty than its diesel coun­ter­part, but we still man­aged to see 47.0 mpg dur­ing our drive. The diesel showed 54.3mpg. But in all hon­esty both cars im­pressed in their own in­di­vid­ual ways.

Since launch, more than 3.6 mil­lion C3 mod­els have been sold glob­ally with 200,000 mod­els driven away from UK show­rooms dur­ing that time. So it comes as no sur­prise that the lat­est C3 will likely be met with the same level of ex­cite­ment and en­thu­si­asm.

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