Small French five-door hatch is quirky, cool and practical
What we liked:
• Mid-range torque
• Balanced handling
• Comfortable interior
Not so much:
• Frustrating infotainment screen
• Four-star ANCAP rating
• Small cup-holders
What’s it all about?
The all-new third-generation 2018 Citroen C3 arrived earlier this year as the entry-model for the French brand in Australia.
The Citroen C3 uses the EMP2 platform shared across Peugeot, Citroen and DS; and while it appears to have squared its shoulders in a tall-SUV stance, it actually competes in the light car class against the likes of the upper-spec Mazda 2, Skoda Fabia and Suzuki Swift.
The C3 Aircross, due next year, is Citroen’s ‘genuine’ small SUV category alternative, although like the C3, it is front-wheel drive only.
How much will it cost?
The Citroen C3 costs $23,990 drive-away (plus options). You can have any spec with any power train you like as long as you choose a C3 Shine with the 1.2-litre Puretech three-cylinder turbo-petrol with six-speed automatic.
There’s a stack of standard features though, such as 17-inch alloy wheels, lane-departure warning, speed limit recognition, driver attention alert, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The C3 was awarded a disappointing four-star ANCAP safety rating in May, held back primarily by its pedestrian protection score and the risk of head trauma to adult occupants.
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is not available, but will be. Peugeot spokesman Tyson Bowen said that AEB is now available for C3 in Europe, and “it’s not a matter of if but when we get it here”.
While powertrain and trim spec level are both fixed, the C3 does have an options menu that allows some customisation.
The first options choice involves some (free) paint alternatives – that is, you can have gloss black painted alloys instead of silver, and the roof painted either in body colour, white, black or red. The roof colour is matched on door mirrors, fog-light surrounds, Airbump side panels and rear quarter panels.
To begin with, there are nine different exterior colours and three contrasting roof colours to choose from. White is the standard body colour, while Almond green solid paint costs $290 and metallic paint is $590.
Different interior colours can be chosen too, with optional $150 Urban Red interior atmosphere or $400 Hype Colorado interior atmosphere. Citroen ConnectedCAM (dash cam) costs $600 while the Panoramic glass roof is $600—one of the cheaper glass roof options on the market.
The C3 we drove was optioned with Citroen ConnectedCAM and metallic paint, making it $25,180 drive-away.
The Citroen C3 comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assistance package. Capped-price servicing is available for the first six services, either annually or every 15,000km with pricing totaling $3837 over that period.
Why should I buy it?
The C3 drives really well; it isn’t a sports hatch but has enough grip and poise to makes for an entertaining if not exhilarating drive not only in the city but also on a snaking mountain pass.
The turbo three-cylinder engine is responsive down low and has much more mid-range torque than you’d expect. Aside from an occasional moment or two of vibrations at idle, it was smooth throughout the rev range and sounded great too.
The six-speed auto teams well with the three-pot engine and even rev-matches on downshift in manual mode (even though it won’t hold gears to redline).
The C3 averaged 7.3L/100km, with about 60 per cent highway driving and the remainder in short city runs.
The C3’s seats could have more side support but are big, comfortable chairs. There’s enough room for four adults in the C3, with a fifth wedged not too uncomfortable in the centre seat of the back bench.
Like so many of its brethren, the cup-holders in the C3 are tiny, and the infotainment touch screen menus are not intuitive. The Citroen ConnectedCAM dash-cam also took a while to set up, but once it was sorted its 120-degree HD camera appeared to work well.
When is it available in Australia?
The Citroen C3 was unveiled at the Paris show in August 2016, and went on sale in Australia in March (2017).
Who will it appeal to?
This is a funky, fun and practical city car that will happily accomplish the weekly grind.
With a 300-litre boot size (922 litres with rear seat folded), the C3 will also comfortably handle a weekend away for a family of four.
Reassuring if you do get a flat tyre is the full-size (steel) spare wheel, shod with a 185/65R15 tyre.
Where does it fit?
The C3 competes in the small car over $25,000 category locally (rather than the small car under $25,000 category), perhaps because of the initial $26,990 drive-away, metallic paint-included deal.
As it stands, it competes with the likes of upper-spec Mazda 2, Skoda Fabia, Suzuki Swift and Volkswagen Polo.
So, what do we think?
In a category where mainstream, conventional cars rule it’s pleasing to see an off-beat exception like the Citroen C3.
More than most, this car would be a heart-over-head purchase, but even the most rational would find appeal in its energetic powertrain, balanced handling and comfortable interior.
How much does the Citroen C3 Shine cost?
Price: $23,990 (retail, drive-away); $25,180 (as tested, drive-away)
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 4.9L/100km (ADR Combined); 7.3L/100km (as tested)
CO2: 110g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety rating: Four-star ANCAP (2018)