The Citroen C3 is a French-designed five-door light hatch, offered in one specification only, and aimed at buyers prepared to pay a premium for generous equipment, ample design flair and customisable paint and trim. It’s powered by a very frugal 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and drives the front wheels. No manual gearbox is available.
- It has bold, eye-catching exterior design. The Citroen C3 brings a generous splash of design-driven pizazz and customisable style to what is a mostly sensible, pragmatic segment. If you think a Toyota Yaris is a bit boring, or a Mazda 2 is a bit common, this may be the car for you.
- You really can make it your own. There’s ample potential to spec one that’s unlike anyone else’s via nine body colours ($290 for solid colours, or $590 for metallics), three roof colours, the no-cost option of black 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and three choices of interior trim combinations ($150 or $400). Apart from that, the options list is limited to a $600 sunroof or a $600 feature called Citroen ConnectedCam, which is a wide-angle HD dash camera positioned behind the rear-view mirror to record traffic incidents or allow you to share pics or video on social media.
- For a small car, it’s not too cramped. Smart packaging means there’s enough leg, foot and shoulder room in the back for two average-sized adults if the front occupants don’t require full rearward travel of their seats, or it will easily take three small kids. Seat-up cargo capacity is 300 litres, ample for this class, and expands to 922 litres with seats folded.
- It’s a fun, engaging small car to drive. The steering is light and direct, and once on the move, the engine has plenty of pulling power to deliver ample zip out of corners or when overtaking. The C3 also handles bumps nicely, with a ride that’s composed and comfortable.
- It’s well equipped. Safety gear includes front, side and curtain airbags, lane departure warning and speed limit recognition, driver attention alert, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Convenience equipment includes dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, smartphone integration for Apple and Android devices, 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. And you will have noticed the Airbump protectors on the front doors, designed to prevent dings and scratches on these most vulnerable panels.
- It comes with a five-year warranty and five years of roadside assistance. Not the absolute best in the business, but still very good.
- It doesn’t have a full suite of safety features. The crucial omissions are Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and blind-spot monitoring, which explains why the C3 only achieves an ANCAP rating of four stars. AEB is only now making it onto European cars; the Australian Citroen importer won’t say when the safety system will make it onto Australian C3s; only that it will.
- The engine exhibits a mild band of vibration at low revs that is noticeable when moving away from standstill and at crawling speed. Then there’s the transmission calibration, which errs toward early upshifts to reduce fuel consumption. This is not an issue in daily driving, and there is a Sport button for a more aggressive calibration to cater for those with a more ‘enthusiastic’ driving style.
- It’s not cheap. The price is clearly aimed at customers amenable to paying a premium for fashion: the C3 retails for $23,490, with an initial driveaway deal of $26,990. But if the Japanese or German alternatives in this segment leave you uninspired, perhaps the price of French chic won’t be insurmountable.