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.
Citroen is famous for its quirky superminis but the last C3 fell short of the mark. Having taken stock, Citroen is back with a rebooted C3 that has rivals sitting up to take notice.
It’s not as good to drive or as upmarket as a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo but the C3 has something neither of those cars, or its other rivals, has: bags and bags of charm. This is a car only Citroen could make, combining style, technology and comfort to give this car some real spirit.
Comfort, in modern Citroen speak, now means more than just silky ride quality – this is a car designed to make you feel good, from visibility to ventilation, connectivity to usability. That's especially the case in the indulgent Flair and Flair Nav Edition trims, sitting at the top of the range.
Starting with the inside, the C3 is full of well considered and easy-to-use features. It has a seven-inch touchscreen that is as intuitive to use as a tablet computer - something even the luxury car makers don't always get right. The boot is one of the biggest in the class. The door bins are painted white to make them easier to see and, from whichever seat you’re sat in, you get a great view out, improving comfort for all passengers. This is a car designed around its passengers.
Of course, this is still a supermini so space in the rear seats isn’t great – and some of the plastics used in the interior don’t feel particularly upmarket. But we can excuse its flaws for the clever design features.
One in particular that caught our eye was the built-in dash cam standard on Flair models. More cars should be offering these kinds of features, helping avoid aftermarket versions with unsightly wires. Citroen’s version even lets you share clips to your social networks via an app.
Thanks to its luxury status in the range, the Citroen C3 Flair also gets features like a leather steering wheel, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, privacy glass, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Security is also boosted with an alarm that should also help reduce your insurance costs. You can also opt for the ultimate Flair Nav Edition, which costs around £1,200 extra. For this, you'll also get a striking contrasting red roof, door mirror caps and fog light surrounds, against Perla Nera Black, Cumulus Grey or Platinum Grey metallic paint. The theme is even continued with red trim highlights. Safety is boosted with intelligent headlights that dip automatically, driver attention alerts and autonomous emergency braking.
You can feel the association with the funky Citroen Cactus, too. The C3 Flair gets similar airbumps down the side (which protect the side panels from trolleys and wayward car doors), strap door pulls and colour inlays inside, which add to the car’s funky vibe. At the front, narrow led lights swoop around the front giving the C3 a futuristic look.
Citroen has spent a lot of time improving the overall feeling of comfort and style, but mechanically not much as moved on from the previous C3. Even so, its engineers have revamped the driving experience for a better balance between comfort and handling.
The version we drove had the 109bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and it encourages you to drive the car enthusiastically. If you drive considerately, you should even manage to see up to 50mpg. The Flair trim is also available with an 82bhp petrol engine and a BlueHDi diesel with 101bhp, capable of up to 51.3 and 67mpg respectively.
But we’re saving the best bit to last. You might expect to pay a premium for a car this well resolved but with prices for the Citroen C3 Flair trim starting at £16,725, the C3 makes its rivals look not just a little dull but expensive, too.
Verdict - 4.0/5.0
The C3 is a game-changing supermini, a car that has been designed around its users. Citroen calls its approach ‘Citroen Advanced Comfort’, which is their way of saying that comfort is more than just the ride quality; it’s how it makes you feel. It’s great to see Citroen back doing what it does best with the Flair trim – and as a result the C3 is a car with which it’s very easy to fall in love. Before you rush out and buy a Fiesta, Polo or Corsa, try one of these first.
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