Five minutes with a Citroen C3

What is it?

It’s Citroen’s new supermini, the C3, destined to compete against the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.

What the French firm has done to try and make it stand out is give it more funkiness than the competition, courtesy of some daring styling and an attractive interior.

Given Citroen has hived DS off into a standalone, luxury brand, it’s interesting to see precisely how it will place the C3 within its wider portfolio.

Why are you driving it?

We’re driving it because it looks fabulous, with a set of narrow daytime running lights positioned above some big headlamp units giving the car a distinctive face.

Then there are the ‘Airbumps’ along the side, the innovative creations that were first seen on the Cactus crossover and which are designed to prevent against car-park dings.

It also comes in a variety of eye-catching colours (Almond Green, at no extra cost, is the one in the pictures) and with the option of a contrast roof; so appealing a hatchback is it that we wonder why you’d need a C-segment machine from the class above.

What do you like about it?

Well, aside from the styling, the Citroen also has a fantastic interior, complete with a nice central touchscreen for all the infotainment, ‘luggage strap’ door handles, the eight scallops in the door cards that are designed to evoke to external Airbumps – and, in this particular car, an interior ambience called Hype Colorado (£380), which clothes the steering wheel, dashboard insert and the edges of the fabric seats in tan leather. It just makes everything look a bit classier and upmarket in here, and – crucially – almost all the controls work brilliantly, too (more on that in a moment). Under the bonnet is the hugely appealing 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged PureTech petrol engine, providing more than enough power and torque to make the C3 an easy-going day-to-day companion, while also turning in some decent economy figures. We saw almost 49mpg from 510 miles behind its two-tone steering wheel, and that’s not bad at all for a small city car that was being subjected to long motorway runs and

It just makes everything look a bit classier and upmarket in here, and – crucially – almost all the controls work brilliantly, too (more on that in a moment). Under the bonnet is the hugely appealing 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged PureTech petrol engine, providing more than enough power and torque to make the C3 an easy-going day-to-day companion, while also turning in some decent economy figures. We saw almost 49mpg from 510 miles behind its two-tone steering wheel, and that’s not bad at all for a small city car that was being subjected to long motorway runs and

Under the bonnet is the hugely appealing 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged PureTech petrol engine, providing more than enough power and torque to make the C3 an easy-going day-to-day companion, while also turning in some decent economy figures. We saw almost 49mpg from 510 miles behind its two-tone steering wheel, and that’s not bad at all for a small city car that was being subjected to long motorway runs and

We saw almost 49mpg from 510 miles behind its two-tone steering wheel, and that’s not bad at all for a small city car that was being subjected to long motorway runs and country lanes commuting.

Any issues?

From the outside, the C3 looks like quite a big, imposing car for a supermini but the rear seat space is tight, even by the standards of this compact class.

It’s also dynamically confused – the C3 is neither the comfiest-riding nor sharpest-handling machine in the segment.

It does strike a nice balance between the two, but there are times you wish the ride was a touch more pliant, or that there was less body roll during faster cornering.

And we mentioned almost all the controls working brilliantly? The PSA Group, Citroen’s parent that is also responsible for Peugeot, will insist on putting the climate controls on the touchscreen.

There are no physical shortcut buttons to raise/lower the temperature or adjust the fan speed on the console, which means you have to do two or three taps on the display just to turn the heater down a bit; that quickly becomes annoying.

What’s it like as a business vehicle – are there any tax benefits?

The 1.2 PureTech is a great choice for a business user, because while it might emit more CO2 than the diesel engines offered for the C3, those models are more expensive and you thus pay more Benefit-in-Kind tax as a result.

The petrol three-pot sits as low as the 19% band and so the monthly running costs are very reasonable.

Where does it rank in class right now?

If it had slightly more comfortable suspension and additional rear legroom, we might be saying this was the new supermini class leader.

We also think the Citroen C3 would be well served by having the climate controls separated out from the touchscreen in the dashboard.

But, in all other respects, this is a cracking little motor, possessing bags more character than some cars costing three or four times as much.

If what you want is a chic, affordable runaround that doesn’t feel cut-price inside or out as a result of its low purchase price, the C3 is clearly the one to have.

It’s an excellent little supermini, that’s just one or two tweaks away from true greatness. Presumably the reason why it has been shortlisted as one of the seven potential winners of the coveted European Car of the Year award for 2017…

TECH SPEC

Model: Citroen C3 Flair S&S PureTech 110
Price: C3 range starts from £10,795; Flair 110 from £16,285, car as tested £18,015
Drivetrain: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol, five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive
Economy: 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 103g/km – £0 VED first 12 months, then £20 annually thereafter, if registered before April 1, 2017/£140 annually, if registered post-April 1, 2017; 19% benefit in kind
Top speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Power: 110hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 1,500rpm