C-ertain je ne sais
CITROEN has rebooted the C3 as it seeks to log on to a sales surge for its supermini in an incredibly competitive marketplace. UK new car sales figures regularly show the sector with models in the top ten – but popularity comes at a price as everyone is vying for a piece of the action with regular new entrants and updates ensuring it is fatal to stand still. So Citroen hasn’t – recently introducing the latest hi-tech, trendy C3 which boasts French flair and a certain je ne sais quoi to ensure it stands out from the herd.
It is classy both inside and out where the influence of its sibling the C4 Cactus model is obvious thanks to the Airbump protectors on the sides of the doors, wheelarch protectors, a face that reminds me of Marvel comic superhero Iron Man, and the tidy rear end.
There are plenty of opportunities to put your own stamp on it with a number of personalisation options – including two-tone paint jobs for the exterior and different coloured trim inserts for the dashboard – while the efficient range of engines, both petrol and diesel, give fuel economy that is easy on the wallet while providing punchy performance.
Practicality is a given with a 300-litre boot and room for three adults in the back thanks to lots of passenger space while the cabin utilises quality materials and beautiful design.
The rear seats split and fold to increase capacity to 922 litres – but I do have a small quibble here as they don’t make a flat floor so although the car can cope with your golf clubs and trolley, it is a bit of a struggle to load them over the step created by the seat backs.
There are plenty of cubby holes and drinks holders although the only covered area for your valuables is the glove box, which does however offer plenty of space.
Dual zone climate control ensures a pleasant atmosphere for the cabin so it is no hardship to spend a long journey in this supermini.
Like most of the onboard entertainment goodies on the car, it is accessed via a seven-inch colour tablet-style touchscreen in the centre of the dash which is simplicity itself to use.
There is a digital radio - which on my test car briefly repeated part of the programme you had just listened to in a deja vu moment when first switched on – media streaming with USB socket and jack, Bluetooth connectivity and internet access.
It is all very cutting edge which is exactly where Citroen wants the C3 to be.
The range opens up with a price-tag of £10,995 progressing through a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines to £17,095 for the flagship model.
Trim levels start with Touch before progressing to Feel and then the Flair models – one of which I drove priced from £16,285 featuring a three-pot 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine linked to a five-speed gearbox.
The turbo-charged power unit ensures brisk progress – both from a standing start and on the dual carriageway when you’re looking for a little extra oomph for that overtaking manoeuvre. Impressive fuel economy figures are aided by stop/start while hill start assist is also fitted.
The suspension errs on the side of comfort so there is inevitably a bit of body roll in corners although the handling is generally good.
TEST DRIVE CITROEN C3 FLAIR
MODEL: Citroen C3 Flair PureTech 110 PRICE: £16,285 MECHANICAL: 110bhp, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox MAX SPEED: 117mph 0-60MPH: 9 seconds COMBINED MPG: 61.4 INSURANCE GROUP: 16 CO2 EMISSIONS: 103g/km BIK RATING: 17% WARRANTY: 3yrs/60,000miles