The Citroen C3 has improved massively in second generation guise and the 2012 version is the cleanest of the latest crop. The second generation Citroen C3 has established itself as a refined and well-equipped supermini that’s leagues better than its plasticky forebear. The point of this new model is low emissions and a scarcely believable fuel economy figure, something it proves rather good at.
You might reasonably expect a 70bhp Citroen C3 to be rather tame to drive, but the C3 chassis is a class act. Citroen’s efforts to reduce noise levels in the car with more insulating material in the engine bay and improved joints around the doors has paid off. The light steering and 10.2m turning circle will help owners out of many a tight spot, as will a good field of vision around the car. The EGS gearbox takes a little time to learn to drive smoothly but after a bit of practice, you learn to pre-empt when the box will change up and find yourself subconsciously lifting off the gas to avoid it lurching when the next gear engages. Likewise you might well find the sharply servoed brakes a bit much the first couple of times you drive the car but after a few days you’ll have no trouble with them.
On an open road, the C3 feels stable and comfortable at motorway cruising speeds where engine and tyre noise are decently muted although there remains some wind noise created by the door mirrors. Through corners, the C3’s soft set-up contributes to more body lean than the best handling superminis. It’s not too bad though and the car changes direction sweetly, so it’s perfectly possible to have some fun driving it. If you’re after a sportier supermini, Citroen will be keen to point you in the direction of the more aggressive DS3.
Unusually for a supermini, the C3 is barely any bigger than the car it replaced. At 3940mm long, it’s not one of the larger models in this sector and keeping a tight rein on the exterior dimensions helped the designers to pull the neat trick of actually maintaining C3’s weight compared to its forbear. Inside, there’s little sign that the car’s had its growth stunted. It boasts one of the biggest boots of any supermini at 300 litres and there’s room for four adults. Six-footers will struggle for headroom in the back but legroom behind the front seats is good for a supermini. The panoramic Zenith windscreen makes the cabin feel airy and spacious but on sunny days, most owners will have to pull the shade forward as the sun can overwhelm the tinted top section.
It’s clear that Citroen went out of its way to make the C3 cabin environment feel special. There’s a vast range of different textures and finishes around the interior and some engaging design features. The centre console controls are neat and easy to operate, the steering wheel is well shaped and the design of the instruments demonstrates some flair. There are quite a few small storage areas dotted around and although the door-pockets are a little truncated, the glovebox is surprisingly large.
The C3 betters the specifications of most economy hatches. Customers get air-conditioning, cruise control, electric front windows and a trip computer are standard.
The C3 scores massively when it comes to the ongoing cost of ownership. The extra-urban fuel consumption figure of 88.3mpg is quite amazing and the combined figure of 83.7mpg barely any less so. Emissions are rated at just 87g/km so if you have an aversion to payinghigh road tax, this is certainly the vehicle for you.
The build quality of the C3 is massively improved compared to its predecessor and the teething problems that Citroen experienced when trying to integrate complex electronics systems have now been well and truly overcome. The result of this is that the C3 boasts decent residual values and the demand for an extremely economical, low emission vehicle isn’t about to pall anytime soon.
The Citroen C3 Airdream is a decidedly focused thing. It’s a vehicle you’ll buy if you resent the ongoing costs associated with motoring today. If you find standing at fuel pumps a chore and paying high road taxes something you’d sooner avoid, the Citroen is a prime choice. Likewise, if you’re a business buyer who prefers to keep money in the pocket rather than giving it to the Government, you’ll find a lot to like.
Unlike some eco cars, the C3 Airdream is a vehicle that doesn’t punish you for your frugality. It rides well, the diesel engine has a decent slug of torque.
Go along to PG Duffy Motors and check out the C3 for yourself.