Citroen's new C3 was launched earlier this year and since then has started to carve out a niche for itself.
Road Tested by Hugh Maguire
Competing in the tough B segment where rivals include the likes of the ever popular VW Polo, Opel Corsa or Renault Clio to name but a few this new small Citroen needs to be good and I can tell you after some 600km behind the wheel during this road test it is actually very good.
There are essentially two models a 1.4 litre petrol or a 1.4 litre diesel HDI, in VT or VTR+ trim levels both in a five door hatch bodystyle. The version on test here is the Citroen C3 VTR+ with the 1.4 HDI diesel.
The C3 measures just 3.94m long and is actually shorter than a Clio or Corsa but with class leading interior space. The style is distinctive with the VTR+ benefiting from the huge "Zenith" panoramic roof, and 15 inch alloys. More on that later.
Behind The Wheel
I like the interior of the C3 it is both functional and attractive. The dashboard houses the neat analogue instruments which are clearly and logically laid out. Neat touches include the air freshener which allows you put a variety of different scents through the ventilation system via a replaceable scent cartridge. Unique to the B segment the C3 VTR+ features the aforementioned panaromic front screen.
This massive front windscreen reaches 1.35m from bonnet to roof, the panoramic Zenith windscreen is 36% bigger than a normal screen on an average 5-door small car and the angle from the driver's eye line to the top of the windscreen is a huge 108 instead of the segment average 28. The effect inside the cabin is to allow huge amounts of light into the cabin. The roof headlining can be pulled forward to block sunlight if needed.
Overall accommodation is good for a car in this class. The rear boasts ISOFIX and even with a child seat in place in the rear an adult can sit comfortably up front which is not the case in many small cars. The largest in class boot can hold a respectable 300 litres and the rear seats fold 60/40. Standard equipment in both models includes, an MP3-compatible radio/CD player with steering mounted controls, electrically adjustable door mirrors, front electric windows and a multi-function on-board trip computer.
While ABS with EBD and EBA as well as a host of airbags looks after the safety side. Surprisingly in a way there is no form of stability control. Ford offer ESP on the Fiesta as standard!
The VTR+ trim as tested here gains the panoramic Zenith windscreen, air-conditioning, 15" alloy wheels, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and cruise control with speed limiter.
The 70 bhp 1.4 litre 8valve diesel powers this small car along very well indeed. It's not quick taking about 14 seconds to hit 100km/h from a standstill, but somehow it feels livelier than its on-paper figures suggest. Mated to a good 5 speed gearbox it performs well even when laden. Of more interest will be that it costs just €104 to tax due to its low emissions and burns on average just 6.1 litres of diesel per 100km.
As with all Citroen cars it rides and handles very well. I found noise levels to be commendably low indeed better than most rivals in this area and the handling is surefooted whether on wet or dry roads.
Entry to the C3 range starts at just €14,900 for the 1.4 VT petrol while the higher specification VTR+ HDI costs €17,900. Overall then my lasting impressions were of a well built, practical, well equipped small hatchback that offers low running costs and good value. A nice alternative to its better known rivals.