Prepare for French flair
EUROPEAN cities are littered with many things and chief among them are small, chic French hatchbacks.
Australia’s new car showrooms aren’t quite so choked with cheeky French machinery but even the Citroen lots have been devoid of the C3 for months – the little Citroen has racked up more than 2 million global sales and will make a return to Australia in force next year.
The French marque aims to more than quadruple the little hatchback’s 2010 performance and sell 500 next year, alongside the sportier DS3 range that carries a target of 420 units.
Citroen Australia general manager Miles Williams says the brand is aiming to almost double its sales tally to 3000 units next year.
‘‘For 2011 we’ll have a full bottle of DS3 and C3, we’ll run out the C4 and introduce the new one, C5 we’ll keep at, but the small cars will make a big difference for us,’’ he says.
The new C3 has been given a pricepoint base-model, the VT five-speed manual-only that is powered by a 54kW/118Nm 1.4-litre engine, which will go on sale for $19,990.
The VT has 15in steel wheels, front disc and rear drum brakes, anti-lock and stability control systems, dual front and front side airbags, remote central locking, reach and rake adjustable steering, front power windows, airconditioning, a six-speaker CD sound system and a trip computer.
The mid-range VTR+ will be priced from $23,490 for the 1.6-litre petrol four-speed automatic or $23,990 for the 1.6-litre turbodiesel five-speed manual.
The increased price adds curtain airbags, front fog lights, a leatherwrapped steering wheel and a cruise control with speed limiter function.
The range-topping Exclusive is available with the same drivetrain options – in petrol/auto from $25,990 or the turbodiesel/manual model from $26,490, upping the equipment list to include the Zenith high-rise windscreen, climate control, power windows, Bluetooth and USB audio and phone link, folding and heated door mirrors and 16in wheels, although alloy wheels are an option.
The new-look C3 shares some styling cues of the outgoing car, its sportier DS3 sibling and has the funky new face of the breed.
Citroen is claiming improved interior quality and space within the new C3, which has grown 90mm to 3940mm in length, with an increase of 63mm to 1730mm wide.
The C3 doesn’t offer many hi-tech features but it does have Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, as well as a cruise control with speed limiter and a gearshift indicator.
Price: from $19,990 Engine: 1.4 and 1.6-litre turbo petrol and 1.6-litre turbo diesel Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed auto, front-wheel-drive Power: 54kW, 88kW, 66kW Torque: 118Nm, 160Nm, 215Nm Performance: 0-100km/h 10.9-14.2 seconds. Top speed 163-190km/h Economy: 4.3-7 litres/100km, tank 50 litres (diesel 48 litres) CO2: 110g-160g/km Suspension: MacPherson strut (front); flexible beam (rear) Brakes: front ventilated discs, rear discs (rear drums VT and turbodiesel), with anti-lock and stability control systems Dimensions (mm): 3941 (l), 1728m (w), 1538 (h), 2451 (wheelbase) with the front pair fitted with pretensioners and load-limiters.
If the DS3 is an upstart sports-hatch then the C3 is the metrosexual city car – there’s little chance these two will cannibalise sales from each other.
The first few seconds behind the wheel of the C3 sees it quickly betray its city-car origins.
One-finger light steering at parking speeds is not a bad thing, but the weighting doesn’t get too much heavier, or offer as much feedback as the DS3 – which around town is superfluous.
The only model on offer is the 1.6 Exclusive petrol four-speed automatic, which is smooth enough in shift-shock terms but the steps between ratios are on the wide side and Sports mode might as well be a default position.
The 1.6-litre turbo four works hard to shift the new C3 and does a serviceable job in most situations.
The extra insulation of the new model has removed a lot of road and wind noise from the little five-door hatchback, but the Michelin tyres didn’t care for the coarse chip bitumen and were over-inflated, which probably didn’t help the ride.