With the C3, Citroën is continuing to resist what seems to be a pervading temptation for manufacturers to add ‘sportiness’ to their models by placing an emphasis on comfort.
That resistance is no bad thing. Actually, we’re quite pleased that Citroën actively rails against the trend – as long as its cars deliver the ride comfort promised of them. If the Ford Fiesta proves anything, it’s that dynamism does not necessarily have to come at the expense of an exemplary ride.
The C3 would need to be very good indeed to best the Ford overall if, by Citroën’s own admission, it is not going to touch it for driver appeal.
And the verdict is? A mixed bag. That the C3 is unable to match the handling prowess of the Fiesta is about as much of a surprise as finding that it gets dark at night, but although its ride is very comfortable, it’s not without its drawbacks.
The C3’s best work is done at low speeds and in a straight line, where its bump absorption does sit at the forefront of the supermini pack.
But with only a modicum of lock applied, even around town, things start to fall apart. Should a wheel fall into a pothole or drain cover, the suspension bushes’ softness, which damps out so much of the vibration, allow some lateral slip, resulting in a little sideways shimmy in the body.
The steering itself is pleasantly weighted and accurate enough, but it can unsettle the loosely controlled body if lock is wound off too rapidly; it self-centres rather too quickly for outright smoothness.
The C3’s set-up is soft rather than mature like the Polo’s or sophisticated like the Fiesta’s. Despite some superior immunity to bumps in the Citroën, neither the Ford nor the Volkswagen is any less comfortable, yet both offer far more elsewhere.