What a difference a month makes. After ending the relationship with the DS 5, I take delivery of a new C3 hatchback from sister brand CitroÎn, and I really couldnít be happier.
Itís unusual to give away the overall view on a car in the first paragraph, but the little C3 has been an excellent companion over the last few weeks, managing to fulfill the role of long-distance cruiser, family car and load-lugger, although itís not quite perfect for the former and latter uses.
Itís near perfect in every other area though. The cosmetics are a little divisive, I grant you, but they work well for me. Choosing to go with Cobalt blue with a white roof (one of 36 colour combinations) makes the car stand out, even amongst other C3s, the majority of which seem to be white with a red roof. Itís both funky and unique, while also being just about conventional enough not to startle more conservative motorists. CitroÎnís first stab at this style was with the C4 Cactus and, while many liked it, stylistically it fell slightly wide of the mark. Learning from that, the C3 has it nailed.
CitroÎn hasnít forgotten how to make a sensible family car in the process of making something exciting, although the C3 is rather more compact than it might first appear. The rear seats will squeeze a couple of adults in without too much issue, but headroom is rather tight. Children will be perfectly at home though. The boot is a decent size, too, although thereís quite a lip to lug anything heavy over.
Itís better up front where even the sturdiest combination of driver and passenger wonít be rubbing shoulders. Itís also quite minimalist, with just a seven-inch infotainment screen sitting above a row of four buttons. Those physical buttons operate the rear window demister and hazard warning lights, sitting alongside a rotary knob for the audio volume. Pretty much everything else is operated via the touchscreen which is mostly fine, but Iíd much rather have some physical controls for heating and ventilation.
Under that curvaceous bonnet lies a 1.6-litre diesel engine producing just 98bhp, but itís been something of a revelation. Itís a little grumbly when cold or under pressure, but it fades to a quiet rumble once trundling along nicely. And, once itís there, itís remarkably frugal. The first 1,000 miles or so has seen the car return an impressive 58.5mpg, with some individual journeys recording more than 70mpg, and one at 83.2mpg. No single journey has dropped below 40mpg, which bodes well for long-term efficiency.
Thereís also some interesting technology on the car. The infotainment system that we chose as an option comes with a navigation system developed by TomTom thatís identical in all but fonts and colours to the system in the top-of-the-range DS 5, and itís a system that works well, especially when it comes to traffic issues. However, itís been relegated to second place thanks to the inclusion of MirrorLink ñ this allows a driver to hook their smartphone up to the car and use familiar systems through the car’s touchscreen. A dashcam is also fitted behind the rear-view mirror, constantly watching whatís going on ahead of the car. It promises to record up to a minute of video footage in the event of an accident (the preceding 30 seconds, and then 30 live seconds) but Iíve not yet triggered the automatic recording, Should the worst happen and the C3 is involved in an accident, it could prove vital in apportioning blame. If itís a really big bang, the car will call the emergency services automatically, pinpointing my location using GPS coordinates.
But just as I am getting used to the C3, I parked it at Heathrow airport where it will remain for three weeks or so as I take a holiday. However, knowing itís there when I return means Iíll actually have a reason to look forward to coming home. Itís then that Iíll really start to get under the skin of the CitroÎn, and see if itís really as good as I think it is.
Date arrived 17th May 2017
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 64.2/88.3/76.3mpg
Citroën has found its mojo and produced a distinctive, comfortable and useable small hatchback that stands out from the norm.
While ideal for small families, once the kids have grown up, they’ll find headroom in the rear is tight.