Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force
- Great value for money
- Funky design
- Practical for city driving
- Funky design may not be to everyone's taste
- Entry-level models are on the basic side
- Steering isn't the most responsive
What's the Citroën C3 like?
The latest Citroën C3 is excellent all round, with a wide range of capabilities, not least of which is a very good ride that makes it the most comfortable car in the supermini class.
It’s so comfortable that it puts cars two classes higher to shame, and it makes the ideal car for someone downsizing.
The rather quirky looks, with unmistakable airbumps of plastic on the sides to help ward off careless doors in tight car parks, really make it stand out from the crowd.
And that’s a real plus for many people who do most of their driving in the town or city and want their car to be different from the raft of Fords, Vauxhalls, and VWs.
The sleek nose with its day running lights and narrow headlights not only looks good, but helps cut through the air to improve economy.
And it even rides beautifully at town speeds, where it takes speed humps easily and smoothly, and simply shrugs off the appalling multi-repaired surfaces we all have to face every day.
I was aware of rougher surfaces at higher speeds, but they never intruded on those riding inside.
Such a supple ride would affect handling and roadholding in some cars, but not here. A small amount of roll means the chassis keeps its poise even when pushed hard through bends, and grip is excellent.
Even hitting a serious bump mid-corner made no difference to its fantastic composure, so it’s a car that will help keep you safe in difficult situations even before the built-in safety devices come into play.
The steering could be a little more responsive, if I’m being picky, but can be forgiven when everything else about the car is so top-notch.
There’s plenty of space for four inside, with five doors as standard and a reasonable boot with a split-fold rear seat.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and it’s a pleasant place to ride or drive, with plenty of light and good vision all round.
There are basically three engines available, but in a wide range of power outputs - and it’s becoming rare to find a smaller car that can be had with a diesel engine these days.
That is the latest version of the Peugeot/Citroën 1.6-litre HDi in most models, with either 75 or 100bhp, and capable of no less than a real 60+ mpg.
The 75bhp models reach 60mph from rest in 13.3 seconds, while with 100bhp, this comes down to an excellent 9.7 seconds.
When I drove one of the more powerful models pretty hard over a 100-mile journey, it returned no less than 55mpg, which has to be truly superb.
Latterly, the latest 1.5-litre diesel is also available in upper models, and has the same 100bhp, but it brings even better economy.
The petrol engine is a free-revving and refined 1.2-litre 3-cylinder. In lower models it comes with 68 or 82bhp, giving a 60mph sprint of 13.9 or 12.4 seconds respectively, and economy of 45+ mpg.
Top models are also available with a 110bhp turbo version of the same engine that covers the sprint in an excellent 9.0 seconds and yet can still do about the same economy.
Performance in the top diesel and petrol models is very good, with exceptional pull in the mid-range or from a standing start.
The mid-range 'Feel' comes with good seat and column adjustment, traction control, stop/start, cruise, alloys, audio remote, air conditioning, and three ISOFIX child seat anchorages.
But there's a vast array of personalization available when new, and first owners will almost certainly have added extras from the list.
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The Citroën C3 is an economical supermini that doesn't lack in comfort or style. If you're looking for a perfect car to suit the demands of urban driving, the C3's distinctive looks and exterior features make it an ideal buy.
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