First drive review: Citroen C3
Reassuring cost of ownership, engaging handling, distinctive looks, and a wide variety of personalisation options make the C3 a fun lease.
When the C4 Cactus turned up, complete with its distinctive Airbumps, the world thought Citroen must have finally lost it. Then we drove it and realised it was a thoroughly sensible car at a thoroughly sensible price, with plenty to be positive about. Yes, it was styled to be bold, but Citroens of old always were a little left field.
Confident that the public at large are accepting of this new design direction, Citroen has doubled down and replaced the mundane C3 hatchback with this, the new C3. The only thing it seems to share with the outgoing model is the name, as this new model is as much a break from the norm as the Cactus was.
Confident that the public at large are accepting of this new design direction, Citroen has doubled down
New technology is one of the big talking points with any new car launch now, and the C3 brings its own spin on that to the table in the form of ConnectedCam, Citroen’s version of a dash-cam.
Mounted behind the rear view mirror, it constantly records what’s going on outside, and will save 90 seconds of footage in the event of an incident. Nobody could pinpoint what the car decides qualifies as an ‘incident’, but during some very enthusiastic driving on closed roads the car picked up five of them and saved the footage from each. These ‘incidents’ included severe braking, a slight lift over a crest, and a slide from the back end of the car as it I took it ever so slightly beyond its dynamic capabilities.
Should you wish to capture something that the car hasn’t detected, a quick press of a button on the camera will save the same video, or take a still photo.
Happily, especially for corporate customers, the C3’s data is stored on a memory card in the car and not uploaded to Citroen’s computers meaning you retain full ownership of the data. You can then choose to delete files, should that be, erm, necessary…
Even on mud covered country roads [...] the C3 remained safe and stable, which is reassuring
Elsewhere there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, offering full mobile phone connectivity. An app even connects your phone to the camera, allowing you to download images and videos directly.
Beyond the tech (and those Airbumps) the C3 is rather conventional. There’s seating for five passengers, all of whom get sufficient space to be comfortable, while the boot is a decent size. Dotted around the cabin are countless cubby holes and pockets to store the detritus that family cars collect, although the glovebox is almost entirely useless size-wise.
Out on the road, the C3 is pretty handy. It’s no hot hatch - although there are rumours that one will follow in time - but the handling is engaging enough to keep most people happy. Similarly the ride quality is also impressive, and far better than you might expect from a car of this size. Throwing the car around to its limit reveals a lack of tail-out powerslides, leaving you with safe and predictable understeer to deal with. Even on the mud covered country roads I faced through the Peak District, the C3 remained safe and stable, which is reassuring.
The Citroen C3 [is] a compelling choice. I might even lease one myself.
Reassuring too is the cost of ownership. With a claimed 76.3mpg from the 100bhp diesel-powered variant tested here, and CO2 emissions of just 95g/km, you’ll be facing few fuel stops and, as long as you move quickly, a zero car tax bill. There’s also another slightly less powerful diesel option to choose from, as well as three petrol engines.
The money gets you a decent amount of kit, with the Flair spec full of gadgets – from satellite navigation and climate control to a reversing camera and the aforementioned dashboard camera. While the lower spec models miss out on some aspects - including the Airbumps - there’s still Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio as standard across the range.
An optional panoramic roof sets off the interior nicely, but the personalisation options on the exterior mean it’s quite a colour-dependent car. A white roof with panoramic glass just doesn’t work, but a white car with red roof works exceptionally well.
There are three interior options too, from a pretty conventional grey fabric through to a distinctive and traditional tan colour scheme, via a modern sporty number with red stripes. These options don’t just include the seat trim, but spread across the dashboard and door panels, giving the Citroen three distinctive interior styles.
Pick and choose the colour options carefully and with the capable chassis, well thought out interior, and genuinely useful technology on offer, the Citroen C3 becomes a compelling choice. I might even lease one myself.
Model tested: Citroen C3 BlueHDi 100 S&S Flair
|Official fuel economy:||76.3mpg|
|Car tax band:||A / £0|
|Insurance group:||20A /|
|Luggage space:||300 litres|