Pre­pare for French flair

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - Stu­art Martin

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.

Value

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.

De­sign

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.

Technology

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.

Drive

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.

Ver­dict

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