Citroën C3 hatchback
“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”
- Distinctive style
- Loads of tech
- Comfy ride
- VW Polo feels classier
- Diesel engine doesn't justify extra cost
- Rivals are sharper to drive
The Citroen C3 has always had a difficult life, made harder by competitors that were far better in most respects. This latest C3 aims to redress that with a thorough new design, punchier engines and new technology, but it's still a little overshadowed by the adventurous compact C3 Aircross SUV, as well as the very individual C4 Cactus. 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.
If you're looking for a car that stands out from the supermini crowd, the C3 could well be your car. It certainly won't blend in to 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 also competes strongly on price – essential in fighting the Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio. 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.
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 engine line-up is a lot more conventional but customers should find one of the four 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. The one diesel is badged BlueHDi and is larger, measuring 1.5 litres, with 99bhp. This engine's official WLTP fuel economy figures are 67mpg and just 90g/km of CO2, but it's worth noting that the diesel is only available in Feel and Flair Plus models.
From October 2019, Citroen has made choosing your ideal spec easier by slimming down the selection of trim levels from six to three – Feel, an Origins special edition and Flair Plus. Every C3 gets features like DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control as standard. The Feel trim also has a contrasting black, white or red roof and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with a seven-inch touchscreen and alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the Origins edition (introduced in 2019 to celebrate Citroen’s centenary) brings the ‘Airbump’ cladding, rear parking sensors, active safety braking, sat nav with real-time traffic updates and colour packs inside and out. The top-spec Citroen C3 Flair Plus gets a reversing camera, leather details in the cabin and automatic lights and wipers. It also has the quirkiest feature: a front-facing dashcam that can record video of 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 the guilty party in the event of 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.