Review

Citroën C3 hatchback

Price  £11,075 - £16,860

Citroën C3 hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Quiet and spacious
  • Decent interior
Cons
  • Not great to drive
  • Entry-level models poorly equipped
  • Four-star Euro NCAP safety rating

At a glance

The greenest
e-HDi 70 Airdream EGT VTR+ 5dr £15,210
The cheapest
VTi 68 VT 5dr £11,075
The fastest
VTi 120 Exclusive 5dr £15,250
Top of the range
e-HDi 90 ETG6 Airdream Exclusive 5dr £16,860

"The Citroen C3 is a comfortable, well-built and stylish supermini, but isn’t particularly good to drive."

The Citroen C3 is a supermini, which puts it in the same class of car as models like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Suzuki Swift and Kia Rio. It's a good looking car and it's very comfortable, too. In fact, it's one of the most comfortable cars in its class, making it a great motorway cruiser. Many models come with a distinctive panoramic windscreen that extends the glass way past the roofline – which not only looks good but also makes the cabin very light and airy.

There are four specification levels to the C3: VT, VTR+, Selection and Exclusive – entry-level VT models are very competitively priced but don’t come with much equipment, making mid or higher spec models a better bet.

There's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, including some small three-cylinder units that offer very low running costs. In addition to the standard C3, Citroen also make a bigger C3 Picasso mini MPV – for those who need more space – a sportier and more upmarket Citroen DS3, and a convertible DS3 Cabriolet.

Not sure what you're looking for? Find out what we think is the best small car by watching our video below.

 

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.5 / 5

C3 offers low running costs with some models emitting less than 100g/km CO2

The C3 comes with a broad range of engines, and all of them offer low running costs. The most efficient engines in the range are the diesel Airdream units. The 1.4-litre eHDi Airdream will do 83.1mpg and 87g/km CO2 – making it exempt from road tax. The 1.6-litre eHDi Airdream has a bit more power but will still do 74.3mpg and emit less than 100g/km CO2. The 67bhp 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine is also free to tax – it will do 65.7mpg and 99g/km CO2. And the more powerful 81bhp 1.2-litre VTi isn’t far behind, offering economy of 61.4mpg and emissions of 107g/km CO2.

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

Glides over bumps and potholes thanks to soft suspension

The Citroen C3 wasn’t designed to be a sporty car, it was designed to be comfortable – and it is. The suspension has been set-up to be soft and it easily absorbs the bumps from even the roughest of roads. The seats also offer plenty of support and feel comfortable, too. Head and legroom is also decent and although you probably wouldn’t want to cram three adult passengers in the back for longer journeys, there's more than enough room for three children or two adults in the back.

All-in-all, the C3 is a comfortable car about town and a great motorway cruiser, and the cabin does a good job of keeping wind and road noise to a minimum, which helps to make long journeys a little more relaxing.

Practicality & boot space

3.2 / 5

Interior is spacious and boot capacity is among the best in class

There is plenty of space inside the C3 – it's so cleverly packaged that it rivals many bigger cars, like the Ford Focus, for space. The boot is pretty big, too. It has 300-litres of capacity, bigger than the 290-litre boot in the Ford Fiesta, and the 280-litre boot in the Volkswagen Polo, and only 16 litres smaller than the one in the Ford Focus. You get 60:40 split-folding rear seats as standard, and folding them increases capacity to 1,121 litres. There's also additional storage beneath the boot floor, which is useful for stowing away the parcel shelf.

There are some downsides, though. The boot opening is a bit tight, which makes loading bulky items harder than it should be. The load lip is pretty high, too, which again makes it awkward to squeeze in large and heavy loads. The glovebox is also tiny, because a large fusebox takes up most of the room. This is a minor complaint, though, as there are plenty of other storage cubbyholes located around the cabin. And, because the C3 only comes as a five-door, getting in and out is of all seats is easy.

Reliability & safety

3.0 / 5

Poor reputation for reliability and only a four-star safety rating

Unfortunately, Citroen doesn’t have a glowing reputation when it comes to reliability. The quality of its current line up of cars is certainly streets ahead of its old models, but the brand has still been faring poorly in customer satisfaction surveys. It came 24th out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer rankings – a fall of two places from 22nd in 2012, a disappointing result for a major mainstream brand like Citroen. There weren’t enough responses from C3 owners for the car to qualify for the Top 100 Cars league table, but the C3 Picasso mini MPV came 63rd and the DS3 came 36th. Owners are clearly impressed with both of those models, and as the C3 is built using many of the same components, it's likely that the C3 will prove to be more reliable other models in the Citroen range.

Sadly, the car picked up a sub-par safety score, though, with just four-stars from the Euro NCAP crash tests. It was marked down because electronic stability control is an optional extra on all but top-spec cars (it's worth noting that only top spec cars get six airbags as standard, too), where as most rivals offer it as a standard feature on all versions.

Engines, drive & performance

2.7 / 5

Performance isn’t impressive but it’s easy to drive and comfortable

If you want a supermini that offers sporty handling, take a look at the excellent Ford Fiesta or the DS3. Sporty handling is not what the Citroen C3 is about – it's not particularly sharp and it tends to lean quite a bit through bends. It's still a perfectly capable supermini and although its light steering may not be good on twisty country roads, it does make navigating town and city streets a breeze. The C3 is also comfortable and quiet at motorway speeds.

There's a choice of four petrol engines and four diesel engines, and all offer low running costs. The PureTech petrol engines are a little underpowered, which means you often have to work them quite hard to get the speed you want – especially on motorways. The diesel engines are more responsive and more economical but also more expensive. Our picks of the range would be the 1.2-litre VTi PureTech petrol engine or the 1.4-litre HDi diesel.

Price, value for money & options

3.0 / 5

Entry-level cars don’t get much equipment but mid-spec models look like good value

There's a choice of four specification levels on the C3: VT, VTR+, Selection and Exclusive. Entry-level VT models are very competitively priced but don’t come with much equipment. Kit levels start to look better on VTR+ models, though. You get 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, MP3 connectivity and air-con. Selection spec adds the panoramic windscreen. Exclusive models also get six airbags instead of four, electronic stability control, all-round electric windows, 16-inch alloys and a number of interior trim upgrades.

Servicing costs are pretty reasonable and Citroen offer a range of pre-paid plans that include things like servicing, insurance and roadside assistance cover. Used values are particularly poor, though, so make sure you haggle hard when buying to minimise the loss when you come to sell or part-exchange the car.

What the others say

3.6 / 5
based on 4 reviews
  • 4.0 / 5
    While the old C3 was too small and unrefined to ruffle the feathers of the class leaders, the fresh model rights those wrongs with spectacular results. Offering luxury and comfort in equal measure, it’s nearly as quiet and composed as the Polo, and certainly an interesting alternative to more racy rivals such as the SEAT Ibiza.
  • 11.0 / 20
    It's not a driver's car, but if you're looking for something that covers bases and has a bit of character, the new C3 will put a satisfied little smile on your face.
  • 4.0 / 5
    The C3's a super-stylish supermini that feels as plush as it looks – with a comfortable ride, too. The wrap-over windscreen is a novel selling point, but sloppy handling and tight rear space stop it beating the best in class.
  • 3.5 / 5
    Chic, sophisticated and refined. These are the qualities Citroen has aimed to instil in the C3 - a car designed to rival the likes of the Ford Fiesta. While it retains the similar rounded shape of the original C3, this model is far superior in every department with a giant leap forward in quality and refinement.

Last updated 
21 Mar 2014

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