From £10,265
New Citroen is good enough to be on any supermini buyer's shortlist

Our Verdict

Citroën C3
Citroën has plenty of takes on the small car theme, but the C3 is what you’d consider its regular supermini

The Citroën C3 is a competent and interesting supermini, but it doesn’t hit any high notes

  • First Drive

    Citroën C3 1.6 e-HDi

    It won’t save the planet, but Peugeot/Citroen’s new diesel micro-hybrid system is still worth having
  • First Drive

    Citroen C3 1.4 VTR+

    Majors on space, comfort and value - but not driving pleasure

What is it?

Citroen has been on a bit of a roll recently, so the new C3 supermini has a lot to live up to. More important, it has to compete in Europe’s biggest and toughest market, up against excellent cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.

Happily, the new C3 looks promising on every level. It’s got the same good looks as the company’s other recent offerings. It promises to be the most spacious car in its class and spec for spec it achieves the rare distinction of being lighter and more efficient than the car it replaces.

What’s it like?

There's no question that the outgoing C3 was - at least at launch - a reasonably stylish alternative to other superminis. But that was all it had on its side.

The new one, however, is miles away in just about every respect. In terms of quality it looks like it has leapt forward more than one generation.

The dash is free from gimmicks and well ordered. More important, it has a feeling of solidity missing from small Citroens up until now. The dash top itself is constructed from the sort of soft-touch plastics that give a feeling of quality. Likewise, the switchgear all operates with a satisfying clunk.

Of course, we can't yet be sure that this is going to translate into something that's going to stay free from squeaks and clunks in the future - but it looks and feels as though it's going to fare a lot better than the outgoing car.

The cabin is also made a better place to be by the huge ‘Zenith’ windscreen, where the glass also forms part of the forward roof structure. Most models will get this, and while it’s got questionable benefits for keeping weight and the centre of gravity low, it does give the cabin a terrific feeling of space and airiness.

Rear space, too, is as good as you can expect from the class; there's adequate space for two adults and a good assortment of places to store things in the cabin.

Citroen is promising that the C3 range will eventually include a variety of ultra-low-CO2 models, including three-cylinder petrol turbos and stop-start across the range by 2011. Next summer a 99g/km special-edition 1.4-litre diesel, dubbed Airdream, will also appear.

For now, however, we have familiar Citroen engines. Petrol engines range from a 60bhp 1.1 to a 120bhp 1.6, while the diesels consist of a 69bhp 1.4 and two 1.6s, one with 89bhp and the other with 113bhp.

We sampled the lower-powered 1.6-litre diesel and were left with the impression that plenty of effort has been put into the C3's refinement. The motor itself is quiet and punchy. More impressive is the authoritative way in which the C3 isolates you from the outside world. Wind noise is apparent at motorway speeds but road noise is impressively smothered, as are road scars; this is a soft and quiet-riding car.

What the C3 is not is as agile as a Ford Fiesta; body control and steering precision are not as accomplished. The gearchange isn't as crisp as it should be, either.

But the C3 is now among the most refined superminis, and that's no bad thing. Plus, the near mechanically identical DS3, being launched next year, is likely to play the role of the sportier offering.

Should I buy one?

There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to buy the outgoing C3, even at the bargain basement prices at which many of them left the showroom. All that has changed now.

The new C3 is impressively refined, spacious and good looking. It's also set to be competitively priced and equipped next to rivals. In short, Citroen has easily done enough to get on anyone's supermini shopping list. It's been a long time since we've been able to write that.

Chas Hallett

Looking for a used Citroen C3? Visit PistonHeads Classifieds

Join the debate

Comments
41

12 October 2009

£15,200? Surely a boo-boo. That's C5 territory!

12 October 2009

[quote ThwartedEfforts]

£15,200? Surely a boo-boo. That's C5 territory!

[/quote]

It's alot of money but it seems to be par for the course with mid spec, diesel superminis these days.

It looks nice inside and out. Smarter than the OTT Fiesta without being a bit dull like the Polo.

I like it but by the time you spec it up to the same spec as my C5 you're probably taking £18k. Same with the C3 Picasso. I quite like the look of it and want to downsize but what's the point if there's no real saving to be made?

12 October 2009

To be fair, it does state "Price as tested" being £15,200 and if it is the one in the accompanying photos, then it also has leather seats and satnav too - probably a top of the range model.

That said, past discounts have been good so give it 6 - 12 months from launch and we may see a good price drop.

Have to say though that it does look a huge improvement over the outgoing model, and a nice smaller alternative to the equally good looking Picasso model - if you happen to like that sort of thing (I don't but still think it looks good).

12 October 2009

[quote Lee23404]It looks nice inside and out. Smarter than the OTT Fiesta without being a bit dull like the Polo. [/quote]

<P> I love it, it look so cute and babyish. Its the perfect car for anyone who wants to stand out from the crowd. Shame that it looks like a girly car !!!

But it looks much better then the last C3 and looks a lot more attractive option then a boring Fiesta. The polo will always be for the more mature client

12 October 2009

Love it !

this will be the ideal replacement for my wifes ageing A-Class Merc (once the usual Citroen discounts have become available).......

12 October 2009

[quote moe360]The polo will always be for the more mature client
[/quote]

Moe if you remember asking me to give you an example of a car that works in low to medium spec I'ld say the new C3 is a great one.

12 October 2009

[quote tannedbaldhead]

[quote moe360]The polo will always be for the more mature client
[/quote]

Moe if you remember asking me to give you an example of a car that works in low to medium spec I'ld say the new C3 is a great one.

[/quote]

A good example there buddy, small cute french/italian cars seem to be good cars that work in low to medium spec. The C3 reminds me of a cartoon for some reason :)

12 October 2009

[quote moe360]small cute french/italian cars [/quote]

Yup. with discounts and pre-reg deals you can be put in a very nice car for about £8-9K. I checked the VW site to see how much a specced up Polo would actually cost. Easily got it up to severalteen thousand pounds. Problem there is for not that much more in monthly payments a Pasat CC could be up the drive. Wot would you 'ave? Have a feeling I can guess :-)

12 October 2009

[quote tannedbaldhead]Problem there is for not that much more in monthly payments a Pasat CC could be up the drive. Wot would you 'ave? Have a feeling I can guess :-)[/quote]

I did the same thing with the C3 Picasso as a possible replacement for my C5. The problem is that speced up it was as much a month as a 2.2hdi C5. I'm only going to downsize if it saves me some cash. That said parking my C5 on the regular trips into London is a nightmare so maybe I'll bite the bullet and go small.

12 October 2009

[quote tannedbaldhead]

[quote moe360]small cute french/italian cars [/quote]

Yup. with discounts and pre-reg deals you can be put in a very nice car for about £8-9K. I checked the VW site to see how much a specced up Polo would actually cost. Easily got it up to severalteen thousand pounds. Problem there is for not that much more in monthly payments a Pasat CC could be up the drive. Wot would you 'ave? Have a feeling I can guess :-)

[/quote]

Yup, them polo's in high spec kit get very exspensive. But they do look good with the big alloys and equipment. Oh yeh you know i would go for a Passat CC 2.0TDI 170 any day of the week :) .

But even with the Passat CC you need the big alloys, fancy paint, and extras. Then it starts getting very scary !!!

But the CC is a very slick car, looks wise beats any ford, mazda honda etc and even better then a ugly 3 series and IS. The c class is only nice looking one

CC all the way

http://www.cars.com/features/autoshows/2008/detroit/coverage/images/2009...

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka