Amazing to think now about the hullabaloo surrounding the launch of the current Citroen C3. Because of its quirky looks a lot of us were talking about a 21st century 2CV. I was guilty of adding to the hype myself. What a load of rot.
In actual fact the current C3 is a miserable device, not worthy of being feted for anything. It’s crassly styled, pretty grim to drive and feels like it’s built from egg boxes next to its much more modern rivals.
I was thinking all of this whilst sat in a pre-production version of the new one, due to make its first public appearance at the Frankfurt motor show. Never mind the next generation C3, this new one is so tangibly better it feels like Citroen has come on several generations at once.
Styling and quality are, for me, the most obvious achievements and what should get us all start considering Citroen as a credible supermini maker again. No it doesn’t have too many flourishes (leave that to the near mechanically identical DS3) but it looks extremely handsome in the metal. Even more so on the inside, especially with the optional panoramic glass roof fited.
We’ll have to wait a while to find out but Citroen claims to have made great strides on the dynamic front too. The company’s product boss Vincent Besson told me that noise reduction and comfort were the top priorities. That fills me with some hope, I must admit. It’s great to hear a car company boss talking about comfort for a change rather than a fruitless pursuit of sportiness. And if the C3 Picasso is anything to go by the supermini should be a smooth riding, quiet car.
It’s also good to see Citroen joining Ford and Mazda in coming up with a 'mini that’s not more bloated than its predecessors. The target, according to Besson, was to make it the same weight and no longer than four metres. Two objectives he and his team have accomplished.
So it’s not the new 2CV. But we don’t want one of those. We just wanted Citroen to make a supermini that we may actually want to buy. At first glance it looks to me like they may have pulled it off.