Meet the new Citroën C3. It won’t be in our showrooms until 3 January 2017, but motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, has been to Barcelona to review one.
Yes, I know, Citroën is French, so why did I go to Spain to test the new C3 out? Well, that’s where the international media drive event was happening. I was invited, so it seemed rude not to oblige. Rather than a sunny, blue-skied two days, we were met by rain that bore a resemblance to stair rods, so the Citroën C3 was tested in an environment that, we British, are used to. It wasn’t the plan – but I actually enjoyed seeing how much grip I could get out of the C3 on the twisty, wet, entry and exit roads on Barcelona’s motorway system.
Well, I’m still here and the Citroën C3 1.2 Puretech 82 Flair I drove is still unsullied and undamaged over on the continent. The result? Yes, the new C3 has bags of adherence to the tarmac. It’s a shame there are no interior grip handles, though, as the car’s seats, comfy though they are, don’t have enough side bolstering to keep you from leaning into your passenger’s lap.
I say ‘new’, but the 2017 Citroën C3 is actually constructed on the platform of the outgoing C3. That’s no big issue, as everything above ground is as fresh as a daisy. The new C3 is also safer, having been strengthened, should a crash occur. But the car’s nose has also been modified so that any pedestrian unlucky enough to be struck by the C3, will come away less injured than before.
Even, though the 2017 Citroën C3 has more traction that ever, the ride is actually softer – and far more comfortable than the old C3. The French car-maker isn’t trying to make the C3 a sports car, it’s focusing on quirkiness, style and real comfort.
Citroën makes a big thing about technology in its adverts, so it’s no surprise that tech plays a big part with the new C3, too. The planet’s first factory fitted dash cam comes as standard on the flagship Flair model. It’s an ingenious piece of kit, which will surely have an impact on the insurance world. The camera, which can take stills and video, will record 30 seconds of footage before, and after, any collision. Of course, depressing crashes aside, there’s a fun element to this, where you can place any images taken via the dash cam on social media. You have to get an app downloaded onto your smartphone first before you can share (or bore) the whole world with your road trip snaps. The other main piece of tech is the infotainment system. It’s new, and simple to work, but the sat-nav did suffer from a bit of lag in my car. As it’s an option on all but the higher range cars, it’s just as easy to use the new C3’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto gadgetry. This way you can mirror your sat-nav from your smartphone onto the car’s touch-screen.
The Citroën C3 1.2 Puretech 82 Flair, tested here, is a top car, first and foremost, for city driving. It has a real nippiness about it in urban areas, but it does take a while to show off any kind of real speed out of town. That said; as long as you don’t mind working the rather long legged, loose, five geared manual gearbox and pressing your right foot into the carpet, the C3’s three cylinders don’t resist. In fact, they seem to like being pushed hard – making a satisfying noise, like a cat in peak purring mode. There’s not even much detectable wind noise or tyre roar, either, when you finally get going. The new C3’s biggest talent is definitely refinement – not many cars of this size come close. Yes, the Ford Fiesta offers a better dynamic drive, but it’s less fun to look at and Skoda’s Fabia is positively dour in comparison.
Parking the 2017 Citroën C3 is a doddle – mainly because of its light steering, good visibility and overall size. At speed, the steering becomes a little numb, but it’s no deal breaker. The driving position is great and there’s loads of legroom for the front seat passenger. Most rear-seat occupants won’t be comfortable on long journey’s due to the rear sloping roofline and lack of legroom. That said; two young kids will be fine sitting in the back of the car all day long – but adults won’t thank you if you take them further than the city limits. The boot is a nice size, though – and certainly big enough for the weekly shop or a toddler’s buggy.
Less is More
The dashboard and cabin are best expressed as minimalistic – but Citroën has deliberately taken this ‘less is more’ approach. For example, rather than proper interior door pulls, you get leather straps; basic, but clear, instrumentation and, instead of soft touch materials, the dash, doors and centre console brazenly show off shiny plastics. They are recycled, though – so you kind of feel quite ‘green’ driving the C3. It actually all works very well indeed, and makes the new C3 an easy ‘plug and play’ car to drive. It would definitely suit new drivers, young drivers – and small families.
The Citroën C3 1.2 Puretech 82 Flair is available with loads of different roof and body colour combinations, while the Airbumps that first appeared on Citroën’s Cactus model, are an option. So, the car is far funkier than many other superminis, and while it may not have the power to match some rivals, at over 60mpg, it’ll be cheap to run. You’ll also be making quite a statement about yourself if you choose to buy or lease this car. It’s definitely got the ‘cool’ vote from me.
Why not contact one of Perrys Citroën dealerships to find out more?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Stylish √
- Comfortable √
- Boot Space √
- Tech √
- Rear space X
Fast Facts (1.2 Puretech 82 Flair)
- Max speed: 104 mph
- 0-62 mph: 13.0 secs
- Combined mpg: 60.1
- Engine layout: 1199cc 3-cylinder petrol
- Max. power (PS): 82
- CO2: 109 g/km
- Price: £14,795