The biggest-selling ’minis in the UK are petrol models of 1.4 litres (or thereabouts), and very few of them provide performance that differs markedly from that of the C3. The market is so competitive that you should expect no particular surprises from the Citroën, and nor do you get them.
At the test track in the 1.2 Puretech we recorded a 0-60mph time of 10.8sec, which is entirely par for the course. What’s pleasing about it, though, is that the C3’s engine is quiet and, despite our test model having barely 1000 miles on its odometer, revved smoothly and unintrusively. Developing a respectable 100lb ft of torque at 4000rpm, it’s a responsive unit, too, dashing off each 20mph increment of our in-gear benchmarks in broadly the same time.
That linear power delivery makes the C3 a relaxing car to drive; in any given gear you know the kind of acceleration you’ll get. Selecting a cog is straightforward, but, as we’ve come to expect from most PSA manual gearboxes, the shift action is somewhat notchy and there’s some play in the lever when it’s in a gear.
The entry-level 1.0 is best described as pedestrian, the lower-powered 1.2 petrol’s not that much better. Of the diesels, the entry-level 1.6 diesel offers a decent blend of performance and economy – yet its the more powerful 99bhp version that produces the least emissions.
The S&S micro-hybrid diesels incorporate a clever stop-start system that’s driven by the alternator. This reduces the need for a beefed-up starter motor so restarts are smoother and quicker. Whilst this further boosts efficiency, it remains quite expensive. And as with all diesel minis you’re unlikely to do the miles to justify the inflated list price.
If there’s a disappointment with the C3 it’s that wind and road noise aren’t as well suppressed as they should be. It may well be that the seam between the top of the windscreen and the roof (remarkably close to the driver’s head) causes some wind noise, but the Michelin tyres on our test car also produced a din that could be heard in the cabin.