We had high hopes for the Citroën C3, but generally speaking it doesn’t manage to be any better than broadly reasonable. It isn’t that it doesn’t sparkle in some areas — there aren’t too many cars in the C3’s class that have its ability to shrug off low-speed bumps — but you can’t escape the feeling that once Citroën had achieved that dynamic trait it didn’t worry too much about many others.
Ford’s Fiesta can teach every other supermini how to combine sharp handling with a decent ride, while VW’s Polo can teach them a thing or two about quality, refinement and big-car feel. Mazda’s 2 is well priced and as zesty as a Fiesta, while Hyundai’s i20 and Kia's Rio trumps them all for sheer value.
Nevertheless, there are good reasons to buy a C3. Once Citroën’s discounting starts, we’d be surprised if it doesn’t turn into one of the best-value cars in the segment – a £2000 discount seems to be easily achievable, possibly more.
The C3’s low weight and drag coefficient mean that even with a competitively powerful engine, it’s reasonably frugal. And while the eco-friendly diesel doesn’t exactly offer headline-grabbing economy, it doesn’t suffer the performance and ride compromises of other eco specials. The recent addition of the micro-hybrid system to the small diesels has brought a welcome boost to the economy and emissions figures, but also a further price rise.
Then there’s the cabin, offering a sense of airiness that no other supermini can match. Space inside for passengers and luggage is good, too, although a few more cubbies would be welcome.
But it’s how the C3 drives that’s ultimately its downfall. This is a fine riding car, but we’d opt for something with a little more dynamic polish. That is where the next generation C3 will look to rectify this misdemeanours.