The Citroen C3 is the company’s own take on a regular supermini—a rather large standout against the smaller vehicles usually offered by the company. The C3 was first released in 2002, following the AX and Saxo models. Nonetheless the C3 emerged as one of Citroen’s biggest sellers. This model is a five-door vehicle; an alternative would be the three-door DS3. The C3’s engine range includes three diesels (a 1.4-litre at 67bhp, 89bhp and 108bhp), and a 1.1-litre petrol at 59, 72, and 94bhp. The C3 also includes an eco model that’s called the Airdream, which offers a 67bhp engine thathas a 87g/km fuel efficiency.
Citroen opted to retain many design elements from the C3’s predecessor, as chief designer Mark Lloyd realized that there wasn’t much to change upon beginning this project. Evident changes are still seen in the large frontal glass area, a bulbous roofline, and a rising bonnet. These features make sure that enough light comes into the cabin, but not too much to throw off the intended latent design prestige. In terms of size, the C3 is still a compact player in its class that does away with the overwhelming size of models like the Peugeot 207.
The C3’s cabin is one of the airiest of its kind: from the Zenith windscreen that has the glass top stretching on to the roofline’s back, to the sun visors placed on a slide. The rearmost position of the slide allows for an exceptionally bright interior. The cabin also features tactile quality in its dials, centre console, and upper dash switchgear, letting the latest model compete with the best vehicles in its class. Space isn’t an issue either thanks to the C3’s 300-litre boot and the generous rear head and leg room, as well as more than enough knee room for front passengers thanks to a recessed lower dash. Driving position isn’t a problem either, but anyone who’s been in a Volkswagen Polo might not be as impressed.
The C3 faces tough competition against the many 1.4-litre petrol units sold in the UK market. The 1.4i unit can arrive at 60mph in just 10.8 seconds, is usually quiet, and can be smoothly revved. The unit is also pretty responsive in its 100lb ft torque at 4000rpm. This linear power delivery makes the C3 a relaxing drive and the gear you get predictable and easy to push in terms of acceleration. But the best engine within the range is the Airdream eco diesel’s balance of economy and performance.
In terms of ride and handling, the C3 also faces tough competition against powerful rivals such as the Ford Fiesta. The C3 shines along low speeds and driving along a straight line. Bump absorption moves this model as a forerunner among other superminis. But once you get the car around town, the C3 doesn’t perform as smoothly passing on a drain cover or a pothole. The softness of the suspension bushes damps out vibration and tends to move passengers sideways within the body. Thankfully steering is accurate and well-weighted, but tends to be unsettling if the vehicle is wound off to quickly.
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