"To appeal more to men it has a better stance. The track is wider. But it’s still recognisable as a C3. The rounded shape has stayed. It still stands out in its segment," says Pierre Budar, project chief for the new C3. Buyers also get the option of the C3’s ‘Zenith’ windscreen, which runs over into the roof.
See all the latest Citroen reviews, news and video
The new C3 is designed to be a lot more fuel efficient than its predecessor, thanks to more efficient engines and modest aerodynamic gains (Cd 0.30).
Alongside today’s 1.4 HDI and 1.6HDi turbodiesel engines, Citroen will, from launch, be offering a C3 powered by a 90bhp HDi diesel which is good for just 99g/km CO2 – making it the first mainstream production Citroën to emit less than 100g/km.
In 2011 a new generation of engines will be launched, incorporating second-generation Stop-Start technology. Coupled with smaller capacity diesel engines, CO2 emissions should be driven down to just 90g/km CO2. These new diesel units will be followed by ‘new generation three-cylinder petrol engines emitting less than 100g/km CO2’ say Citroen.
Sources say the C3 will be getting the option of an automated manual 'box and conventional torque convertor autoboxes at a later date. Eventually – through the car’s lifecycle – there will be no C3 that emits more than 140 grams of CO2/km.
According to Vincent Besson, Citroen’s product boss, B-segment customers are changing. Cars like the new C3 are no longer thought of as a second car. "They need to be higher quality and have the option of more features but they also need to have lower fuel consumption." Interior quality is also claimed to be much improved.
The new C3 has grown marginally. It’s 394 cm long (+9cm), 171cm wide (+4cm) and is the same height (151 cm). The boot still measures 300 litres. The front passengers get a higher (seating) H-point to improve visibility as well as 8cm extra legroom. Rear legroom is up by 2cm.
Besson says suppliers were asked to examine each individual component in detail and reduce weight. The bare bodyshell is now 50kg lighter than the outgoing car. The number of individual components were also reduced in bid to save weight. The front bumper assembly, for example, is now made up of fewer pieces.
Besson says that Citroen has done a lot of work on soundproofing and absorbing sources of noise. "Everywhere we heard a noise we tried to cancel it."
The C3 chassis was redeveloped from that shared with the Peugeot 207. "Although the wheelbase is the same as before, a lot of parts were redesigned," says Budar.
The C3 gets a new rear suspension set-up for which the development priority was comfort and noise suppression.
"We worked especially hard on the rear part of the platform," says Budar. The car still has a torsion bar on the rear axle but the geometry of the suspension is entirely new. "Comfort and handling have improved a lot. The car rolls a lot less and the absorption is better. But the C3 is still very much a comfortable car."
The new C3 is the first car from PSA to be developed without the use of conventional prototypes. "We did a lot more work on the computer. The first vehicles we tested were already pre-production cars built with the production tools, new method obviously saves a lot of money," says Budar.
"That also meant that we could do pre-production engineering a lot earlier in the development programme, so we had more time for [the 2-3 million kilometres] testing the final car."
Hilton Holloway and Charles Hallett
Twitter - follow autocar.co.uk