In-depth reviews

Citroën C3 hatchback review

“The Citroen C3 is now just as quirky as iconic models from the French firm’s past, boasting novel features that help it stand out”

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Pros

  • Distinctive style
  • Loads of tech
  • Comfy ride

Cons

  • VW Polo feels classier
  • Diesel engine doesn't justify extra cost
  • Rivals are sharper to drive

The previous Citroen C3 had a difficult time against competitors that were better in many respect. The latest C3 aimed to redress that with a thorough new design, punchier engines and new technology, but it has been a little overshadowed by the adventurous compact C3 Aircross SUV. Fortunately, the latest C3 is imbued with far more personality than its predecessor, and fits in far more comfortably with the funky style found elsewhere in Citroen's range.

Top 10 best small SUVs 2022

If you're looking for a car that stands out from the supermini crowd, the C3 could well be your car, particularly since its midlife facelift. It certainly doesn't blend in among a car park full of Ford Fiestas and Vauxhall Corsas, while SEAT Ibiza and Toyota Yaris buyers will also appreciate its individual looks. The C3 competes strongly on price – essential in fighting the Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and Skoda Fabia, and its price could sway you away from the much costlier Fiesta. If you’ve been frustrated with firm-riding superminis designed to be ‘sporty’, the comfort-orientated C3 could be a breath of fresh air, too. There's even a 'C-Series' version aimed specifically at online buyers, as Citroen makes moves to attract a new generation of customer. 

Its unique looks are largely down to its tall roofline, upright stance and fairly high ground clearance, which make the C3 look like a supermini-sized SUV. A wide grille is set high up on the nose, flowing into LED daytime running lights where you’d traditionally find the headlights. Rather like a Nissan Juke, these are positioned lower in the front bumper. It’s a design that owes a lot to the Citroen C4 Cactus, and some trim levels even get a strip of its ‘Airbump’ plastic bubbles to help protect the C3 from minor scrapes and car-park dings. The midlife makeover saw the front end updated with a new grille and bonnet, while LED headlights became standard.

More reviews

The engine line-up is a lot more conventional but customers should find one of the options fits the bill. The 1.2-litre petrols are branded PureTech, with 82 or 109bhp, and return fuel economy of around 50mpg whether you choose the manual or the automatic gearbox. The higher-powered version comes with a turbocharger, so it's quicker and better suited to mixed driving. It’s therefore a little disappointing that the 109bhp engine is only offered on the Saint James and Shine Plus trim levels, and it’s auto-only on the former.

The one diesel is badged BlueHDi and is larger, measuring 1.5 litres, with 99bhp. This engine manages over 65mpg and just 113g/km of CO2, but it's worth noting that the diesel is only expected to sell in small numbers and is limited to the top trim, making it an expensive choice.

Every version of the C3 will cost the standard VED rate each year to tax, while company-car drivers should seek out the 82bhp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol, thanks to its low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band and price.

From October 2019, Citroen made choosing a C3 easier by slimming down the selection of trim levels from six to three – Feel, Flair and Flair Plus - and in 2021 it mixed things up again. Trims are now called Sense, C-Series and Shine Plus, with a special-edition Saint James version replacing the old Shine trim. Every C3 gets features like a seven-inch touch screen, ‘Airbumps’, DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control as standard.

The online-only C-Series sits above Sense but gets a lower price, unique styling tweaks and 'C-Series' badges on the front doors. Extra equipment fitted includes one-touch electric windows, privacy glass, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and auto wipers and lights.

A special-edition Saint James version is next up. It’s slightly more expensive than the Shine trim it replaces, but gets additional features like a reversing camera and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Stepping up to the Shine Plus trim brings 17-inch alloy wheels, navigation and Advanced Comfort seats, plus a Safety Pack that adds autonomous emergency braking and high-beam assist. The C3 is also available with a front-facing dashcam that can record your journey and even upload clips to your social media accounts. As aftermarket dashcams are becoming more and more popular, Citroen has taken the decision to offer one that's factory fitted. It could help show what happened in the lead up to a collision.

You could say these trims are just the start, because there are lots of ways to personalise or increase the specification of your C3. Roof colours, interior ‘ambiances’, exterior trim (like coloured door mirrors) and lots of accessories are offered to suit your personality and style.

After Euro NCAP crash tests in 2017, the C3 was awarded four out of five stars for safety, with 88% for adult occupant protection. A large number of airbags, electronic stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring and lane-departure warning are fitted across the board. There’s also technology to sense if you’re getting tired and warn you to take a break, along with speed-limit warnings. ISOFIX points for securely attaching child seats are found in the front passenger and both outer rear seats. Auto emergency braking really should be fitted as standard, though.

Recommended

Toyota C-HR SUV review
Toyota CHR
Toyota C-HR
19 May 2022

Toyota C-HR SUV review

Audi A6 saloon review
Audi A6
Audi A6
19 May 2022

Audi A6 saloon review

New Citroen C3 Elle starts at £18,150
Citroen C3 Elle front corner
Citroën C3 hatchback
18 May 2022

New Citroen C3 Elle starts at £18,150

Fiat 500X SUV review
Fiat 500X driving
Fiat 500X
18 May 2022

Fiat 500X SUV review

Most Popular

Speed awareness course: how much does it cost, how long does it take and how do you do one online?
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
19 May 2022

Speed awareness course: how much does it cost, how long does it take and how do you do one online?

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Fiat 500 deals
Deals
20 May 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

New car delivery times: how long will you have to wait?
Mazda3s at Bristol port
Car buying
17 May 2022

New car delivery times: how long will you have to wait?

More on C3

Show me:
New Citroen C3 Elle starts at £18,150
Citroen C3 Elle front corner
Citroën C3 hatchback
18 May 2022

New Citroen C3 Elle starts at £18,150

The French car manufacturer is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Citroen C3 with a special edition Elle model
Top 10 best cheap cars 2022
Dacia Duster SUV
Best cars
13 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap cars 2022

We look at the best cheap cars on the market that offer spectacular value for money, proving that you really can spend a little but get a lot
Citroen range gets new ‘C-Series Edition’ trim
C3 C-Series
News
14 Apr 2022

Citroen range gets new ‘C-Series Edition’ trim

The Citroen C3, C3 Aircross SUV, C4 and C5 Aircross get a new value-focused trim level
New Citroen C3 You supermini starts at £12,995
2022 Citroen C3 You
Citroën C3 hatchback
11 Apr 2022

New Citroen C3 You supermini starts at £12,995

Citroen takes aim at the Dacia Sandero with its new entry level C3, which replaces the C1
Top 10 best cars for £15,000
Kia Picanto X-Line
Best cars
16 Feb 2022

Top 10 best cars for £15,000

If your budget for a new car is £15k, you can choose from an appealing selection of hatchbacks and SUVs. Here are the best ones
Top 10 best cars for under £150 per month 2022
Renault Captur Iconic
Best cars
7 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cars for under £150 per month 2022

£150 a month is enough to get you a great set of wheels. We pick over the most attractive offers around right now.
Top 10 most comfortable cars 2022
Mercedes E-Class saloon
Best cars
21 Dec 2021

Top 10 most comfortable cars 2022

Fast driving can be fun, but what if you just want to chill behind the wheel? We show you 10 cars designed to relax more than to entertain.
Top 10 best motorway cars 2022
BMW 5 Series driving
Best cars
10 Dec 2021

Top 10 best motorway cars 2022

Need a car that can tackle serious motorway miles with ease? Look no further than our list of the best cars for the job.
2021 Citroen C3 updated with more equipment
2021 Citroen C3
Citroën C3
21 Oct 2021

2021 Citroen C3 updated with more equipment

Citroen has announced a set of updates for the C3 supermini, including the withdrawal of the Shine trim
2020 Citroen C3 facelift arrives with a price of £16,280
2020 Citron C3 - front 3/4 static
Citroën C3 hatchback
1 Jun 2020

2020 Citroen C3 facelift arrives with a price of £16,280

Citroen C3 supermini receives a mild facelift for 2020 with additional personalisation options
Top 3 used first cars for £6,000
Top 3 used first cars for £6,000
Skoda Citigo hatchback
20 Mar 2020

Top 3 used first cars for £6,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I’m looking for a first car for my daughter that’s easy to drive. What can you recommend for £6,000?”
Citroen C3 Flair review
Citroen C3 Flair hatchback front 3/4 tracking
Citroën C3
21 Aug 2019

Citroen C3 Flair review

The C3 Flair trim brings a much-needed dose of fresh and funky fun to a segment desperately in need of it.
Used Citroen C3 buying guide: 2010-2016 (Mk2)
Citroën C3 hatchback
8 Jan 2018

Used Citroen C3 buying guide: 2010-2016 (Mk2)

The Mk2 C3 hatchback might not stand out from a crowd on looks, but its low purchase price and running costs are undeniably attractive
Citroen C3 2017: full prices and specifications
7 Feb 2017

Citroen C3 2017: full prices and specifications

Full specifications, facts and figures for the 2017 Citroen C3 have been announced
Citroën C3 hatchback (2009-2016)
Citroën C3 hatchback
21 Jul 2016

Citroën C3 hatchback (2009-2016)

"The Citroen C3 has low running costs and a practical interior, and thanks to its soft suspension it’s one of the most comfortable superminis on the m…

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
3 Feb 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022