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In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review - Engines, drive & performance

"The Citroen C3 majors on comfort, so it's better at soaking up bumpy roads than whizzing around corners"

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Citroen’s focus has never really been on driver engagement, but on comfort, and the same can be said for the latest Citroen C3. It really does deliver on the comfort front too, so long as you take it easy and don’t push it too hard.

At lower speeds we noticed how well the C3 smoothed out potholes, drain covers and speed bumps. At faster speeds comfort is still good, coping with less severe bumps, but it doesn’t take much to upset the C3’s composure. The true test will be how the C3 copes on UK roads. 

Is the Citroen C3 good to drive in town?

Of all the environments you could find yourself driving in, the Citroen C3 feels the most at home around town where its soft suspension does a good job of smoothing out imperfections at low speeds. The steering is light, which makes manoeuvring around tighter streets a little easier, too.

Is the Citroen C3 good to drive on long journeys?

The Citroen C3 takes some time to get up to speed, and the petrol version sounds quite gruff when doing so – once up to speed, the engine noise never completely dissipates, so it can be somewhat of a noisy cruiser. That’s not helped by the high amount of wind noise that makes it into the cabin at faster speeds, as well as tyre roar. You might expect the e-C3’s electric motor to help somewhat, but even then there’s a noticeable amount of motor whine, so it’s safe to say the C3 isn’t particularly well refined.

Is the Citroen C3 good to drive on B-roads?

No version of the C3 offers particularly sprightly performance, but push it to its limits and it doesn’t feel particularly happy to cooperate. There’s limited grip if you go aggressively into a corner, and the C3 exhibits a lot of body roll. Generally, there’s quite a numb feeling to the Citroen C3’s driving experience, and the steering feels very light. It’s fair to say that it’s not a car built for B-road blasts.

Petrol models

This time around the Citroen C3 gets a 1.2-litre petrol three-cylinder engine tuned to 99bhp, in contrast to the previous car’s 82bhp and 109bhp units. It’s undeniably slow, but there’s enough low-down grunt to make it feel capable.

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The manual gearbox on the petrol version feels loose and unsatisfying, given the overly large gear knob and vague feel to it, but it’s still possible to get used to this and drive the C3 smoothly enough.

We’ve not yet driven it, but there’s also a PureTech Hybrid version that adds some electric assistance to the C3, though this will likely have more tangible benefits in terms of fuel economy rather than performance as it has the same power figure as the standard petrol model. Citroen is yet to confirm performance details for these models, however.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

C3 1.2-litre PureTech

99bhp

TBC

TBC

C3 1.2-litre PureTech Hybrid

99bhp

TBC

TBC

Electric models 

Though we now live in an era where it’s almost taken for granted that the electric version will feel more powerful than their petrol counterparts, that’s not the case here. While it has 12bhp more than the petrol C3, the e-C3 still takes 11 seconds to get from 0-62mph, which – to put it bluntly – is slow.

Admittedly, it doesn’t feel as sluggish as it sounds on paper, and the e-C3’s setup has clearly been designed for a smooth drive, rather than pace, so you don’t get that violent jerk as you set off that you can sometimes experience in other EVs.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

E-C3 44kWh 

111bhp

11 seconds

84mph

Carbuyer notes

“The C3’s petrol engine is a bit gruff, and there’s some whine from the e-C3’s motor, but in general both versions of the car are quick enough (just about) within the class.” John McIlroy Editor-at-large

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,120

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,120

Fastest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech 110 Max 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,075

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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