You could be forgiven for not knowing that a replacement for Citroën’s C3 supermini had been unveiled, thanks in part to its sexy, MINI rivalling, DS3 sibling hogging all the limelight. But now it’s time to turn the spotlight onto the DS3’s more practical, volume selling brother, the brand new C3.
With over two million C3’s sold since its launch back in 2002, it’s an important car for Citroën, and fans of the original certainly won’t be offended by the new model. The French car maker is aiming to achieve a 10 per cent market share of the B segment class, with its C3, C3 Picasso, DS3 line-up, as well as its C1 city car. While many rivals have grown in size, the C3 remains the smallest supermini in the class at 3.94 metres, yet offers the largest boot at 300 litres.
It’s clear that when designing the new C3, a quality look and feel was sought and built into it at every stage of the design process. Compared to the old car, the new C3 feels like a much more expensive proposition, with its chrome detailing on the side windows and tailgate appliqué, to the first application of the new-look Citroën double chevrons up front. Everything is tastefully applied, and wouldn’t look out of place on a car costing several thousand pounds more.
Climb into the interior and you’ll immediately notice the wide-spread use of soft-touch plastics and quality materials. The two-tone dashboard is distinctive and distinguished, with a strongly sculptured feel. All of the controls have a solid, durable feel – something that couldn’t always be said for some past Citroën offerings. In particular, the MyWay colour satellite navigation system fitted to the test car is neatly integrated, and one of the best installations that we’ve experienced. It’s a piece of cake to programme, with easy to navigate menus, and really easy to live with on a day to day basis. Interior space is generous, with room for four in comfort, while rear space is exactly what you would expect from a small car. The really surprising feature on the C3 is the fitment of what Citroën calls a Zenith panoramic windscreen – standard on Exclusive models, and optional on mid-range VTR+ versions. It’s a wrap around screen that forms part of the car’s structural rigidity, and goes up, over and behind your head, giving an unprecedented feel of light and airiness, and totally transforms the C3.
Compared to cars fitted with a regular windscreen, the driver experiences a 28 degree field of vision, but with the innovative new Zenith screen, there’s a massive 108 degrees of vision. It’s similar in design to the panoramic windscreen already seen on Vauxhall’s Astra Sport Hatch, but has never before been found in a supermini sized car. On summer days, when the glare from the sun is unbearable, there’s a sliding blind that converts the baby Citroën back into something resembling a normal windscreen, with proper sun visors. Our test car came fitted with the 1.6-litre HDi engine, developing 89bhp, and in top of the range Exclusive trim. Immediately, as soon as you pull away, it’s obvious that Citroën has paid close attention to refinement – in particular engine, road and wind noise. Soundproofing has clearly been beefed up, resulting in low levels of noise intrusion into the cabin. Ride comfort is impressive, tackling broken and poor surfaces with aplomb, while handling is safe and predictable, with added dynamism compared to the previous generation car. Performance feels spritely, with a 113mph top speed, and the zero to 62mph dash completed in 11.0 seconds. Fuel economy is a strong point at 67.3mpg on the combined cycle, as is low CO2 emissions of just 110g/km, placing it in band B for vehicle excise duty, and resulting in £35 being payable for the annual tax disc.
When the new C3 arrives in showrooms in late January next year, Citroën will be fielding a five model diesel range, with four trim levels and a choice of four HDi engines. Prices start from £12,700 for the VT 1.4HDi and rise to £16,200 – which buys you the top-of-the-line Exclusive model, coupled with the 110bhp 1.6-litre HDi engine. This compares well to Ford’s Fiesta, which seems to cost several hundred pounds extra at each price point.
RIVALS: FORD FIESTA, PEUGEOT 207, RENAULT CLIO, VAUXHALL CORSA, VOLKSWAGEN POLO
- Engine: 1560cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 89bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 159lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,150kg
- Max speed: 112mph
- 0-62mph: 11.0secs
- Combined consumption: 67.3mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 110g/km (B)
- Boot space: 300litres
- Insurance group: tba