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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

We didn’t get the chance to put our test C3 on the weighbridge, but it certainly performed with the zeal of a relatively light, small hatchback well provisioned for power and torque.

Despite a small relative weight penalty, a small deficit on peak power and relatively trickier test conditions, the Citroën outperformed the last comparable turbocharged petrol supermini we fully road tested – the Suzuki Baleno 1.0T – when accelerating from 0-60mph, from 30-70mph through the gears and over the same sprint in fourth gear.

The Citroën doesn’t rely on particularly short gearing for that peppy, willing turn of foot, either. In fact, its gearing is longer than that of the Suzuki and longer even than plenty of similarly powerful six-speed rivals in top gear.

Instead, the C3 relies on torque – a very healthy 151lb ft of it – which arrives after the same turbo lag we’ve grown used to from the PSA Group’s 1.2-litre turbo triple but always with dependable stoutness across a wide band of revs.

As is typical of the three-cylinder breed, the engine runs quite roughly at idle but revs willingly and more smoothly above 1500rpm, and it has all the audible character you’d want from a cheery French supermini, making it a near-perfect fit for the C3.

It’s a great shame, then, that it’s not matched to a more pleasant-feeling gearbox. The cable-operated five-speed manual unit in the C3 feels baggy and unnecessarily long of throw, too often baulking and going slack on its way across the gate, leaving you no option but to return the lever to its former position, re-engage the clutch and try again. The gearboxes of even relatively cheap superminis can and must feel better than this.

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There’s not a long wrong with the C3’s range-topping petrol engine on efficiency, though. It proved capable of topping 60mpg on our touring economy test, suggesting that the car will be as punchy, or as frugal, as owners are likely to want.