C3's designer talks to Autocar about the funky new supermini
15 September 2009

This is the new Citroen C3 supermini, which has been officially launched at the Frankfurt motor show and arrives in UK showrooms early next year.

The Citroen C3 supermini is a vital model for the company, and it will make its public debut at the Frankfurt show in September alongside the production version of Citroen’s DS premium supermini.

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Chas Hallett blog: New Citroen C3 - a supermini you''ll want to buy

Mark Lloyd, chief designer, said: "This is the first car I can think of where the redesign follows so much of the outgoing car.

"Usually we make a step change, but when we started the C3 project we realised we didn’t have to change much."

The booming B-segment now makes up a third of all new car sales in Europe and Citroen wants to grab well over 10 per cent of the market with this new car. The outgoing C3 has notched up sales of two million.

Citroen says that the new C3 ‘gets a sportier edge, with a tauter profile that gives the car a more dynamic, yet robust appearance’.

"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.

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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

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Our Verdict

Citroën C3

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

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Comments
23

29 June 2009

Looks good, Citroen seem to be on a roll at the moment. I just hope Citroen don't keep quality down to create a bigger gap between the C3 and DS.

29 June 2009

Looks really good, Citroens roll continues. How did they manage to get a 300 ltr boot in what is still quite a small car at under 4metres? Hopefully it's not at the expense of interior room.

Hopefully a typical mid-range VTR with smaller wheels and without the large windscreen will still look good.

29 June 2009

My word, Citroen is on a role. The C6 is still my fave right now, closely followed by the C5.

30 June 2009

Looks very good, a simple and fresh design, much nicer than the DS3 which, in my opinion, looks far too contrived.

30 June 2009

This looks like quite a good effort. Not following the crowd, not trying to make it 'sporty' .... with the UK's utter sh*te roads what we need is a small cheap to run, well made and good riding small car. Citroen might well have just made one of the most relavent cars to the UK publics real needs.

Btw, I hate their silly windscreens that go over the head, I want a windscreen of a normal size and then a glass roof. This gives me plenty of light, but also allows sun visors to be used effectively. I am just not a fan of a receeding hair line on a car.

30 June 2009

Looks great , except for that "receding hairline"

30 June 2009

Not bad. Let's see if the driving experience, real world quality, reliability and refinement match the aesthetics.

30 June 2009

i like the windscreen. sadly as it appears to be optional, no one will buy it. I havent seen one Astra with the big screen they made so much fuss about.

30 June 2009

love it !

i think that will be the next runaround for the missus and kids and i will take a used C6 once the prices have softened some more....

Citroen are on a roll at the moment and have some great looking cars..far better than selling badge engineered 106 and re-bodied 306's as they were doing 10 years ago.

what a turnaround

30 June 2009

[quote Howey]selling badge engineered 106 and re-bodied 306's [/quote]

I think you will find the C4 shares much with the 307/8 and the badge engineered 106 has been replaced with a rebadged Toyota.

No turnaround.

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