Given the song and dance Citroën prepared to accompany the launch of the new C3, it’s something of a surprise to find that it has allowed it to look so much like its predecessor. That was not a car – despite its selling two million units and whose styling was praised at launch – that will generally be remembered with any great fondness. The 2017 C3 aims to rectify this, firstly by mirroring the Citroën face worn by the C1, C4 Cactus and the C4 Picasso, while giving a stylish, funky look accentuated by the Airbumps on the side.

“Usually we do make a step change,” C3 chief designer Mark Lloyd told us when the car launched at 2009’s Frankfurt motor show, “but when we started the C3 project we realised we didn’t have to change much.”

The Zenith windscreen does give a better view out than even in a normal convertible, whose windscreen rail is usually slap bang above your head

So the new C3 has a short, steeply rising bonnet, bulbous roofline, a large frontal glass area and side windows that fall lower than the bonnet line. This is a noble way of ensuring a lot of light enters the cabin, but is also not easy to do without removing any latent design dynamism or prestige.

Credit to Citroën, then, for producing detailing that, to the eyes of many, lifts the latest C3 to a level of smartness its predecessor could never hope to match.

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If you want more evidence that it was not the idea of the previous C3 but merely its execution that failed to hit any high notes, you’ll find them in the new car’s dimensions; there’s little to choose between them. 

At under four metres long, the new C3 remains a fairly compact car in this class, avoiding any of the bloatedness of the Peugeot 207, its PSA partner with which it still shares many of its underpinnings. In fact, at 3.94 metres long and 1.73 metres wide, the C3 all but mirrors the Ford Fiesta in size.

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