When Citroën took the diminutive C1 city car off sale in 2022, it had become a £14,000 buy. Many of us mourned its departure, because it was a signal of the increasing difficulty for the European car industry of making genuinely cheap new cars. But with prices having started at less than £8000 in 2014, it seems reasonable enough to wonder if Citroën had forgotten about the cheap part of the C1's market positioning as the car got older.
The French company’s solution to replacing the C1 - to providing the best value for money that it can in the modern compact hatchback class - is the Citroën C3 You. This is in essence a five-door C3 for less than C1 money. I’m not sure it’s right to describe any supermini as ‘full size’, but this one does indeed have five doors and offers five-seat passenger accommodation closer on outright space to what the Dacia Sandero, MG 3 or Kia Rio might ply than what the C1 (or indeed any city car) offers. Unlike in a city car, boot space is a fairly useful 300 litres.
The C3 You retains a respectable standard equipment specification - although not one as generous as some at the price. Yet when it was launched in April 2022 (at an eye-catching £12,995 entry price), it represented an effective 20% price slash for the entry-level C3. Some of that ‘price realignment’ was the upshot of a fair pricing policy through which, not unlike rival budget brands, Citroën has lately sought to cut discounting and advertise its cars at a lower list price much closer to the one that the customer actually pays. But much of it was simply about focussing the C3’s spec down on the essentials.
By the essentials, however, Citroën clearly means something a little different than the bare bones. Against the backdrop of its bold styling, the C3 You gets body-coloured bumpers and door handles, bright white door-mirror caps and contrasting C-pillar styling, and it can even be had with a white roof. It certainly doesn’t look like an austerity buy.