C3 1.6 HDi 90bhp Exclusive 5-door
Miles steals a pre-Christmas
first drive in the new Citroen C3 that
goes on sale early in the New Year.
It looks similar to the old one but
dont let that fool you under the
TELEVISION SCREENS NOW with a pre-launch Christmas and New Year holiday period
advertising campaign and on sale from January 15th (2010), the new Citroen C3
five-door 'supermini' has the external styling cues of its predecessor
but inside, particularly in trim design and quality, things have definitely
changed for the better.
It needs to because the new C3 has to sell against the likes of the best-selling
Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa and now the brand new, and class-leading, Volkswagen
But despite Citroen's decision to stay close to the previous C3's look (chiefly
because it has sold over two million units since its launch in 2002), the latest
C3 is not just a face-lift model but, generally speaking, a completely new car.
At 3,940mm in length, 1,730mm in width and 1,510mm in height, the new C3 has
roughly the same overall proportions as the outgoing model. It has a short and
steeply rising bonnet, large frontal glass area, low glass line to the sides
and a bulbous roof. The styling now includes a more noticeable trapezoidal front
grille and an eye-catching design for the headlight clusters that taken together
give increased road presence and a far more purposeful look.
Side styling treatment includes a low waistline but instead of black rubbing
strips on the doors (as per the previous C3), there are now contoured styling
lines pressed into the metal. At the chunky rear there is a wide-opening tailgate
giving access to a deep and wide 300-litre boot. However, the high rear sill
doesn't make loading easy for heavy items and although the rear seats do fold
down, they do not fold flat and consequently leave a 'step' in the load floor.
The modern-day family car is mainly about packaging: maximum space in the minimum
size. Front seat passengers in the new C3 have lots of space and rear seat occupants
should be quite happy with the leg and headroom. The seats look comfortable
and supportive but feel less so after a long journey. The ride though is comfortable
and the suspension generally copes well. Perhaps it is a bit soft at the front
end, and the rear set-up can cause the car to skip sideways when a back wheel
falls into a large rut or pothole. And there's also some wind and tyre noise
With the low waistline, huge glass area relative to the size of the car and
the Zenith panoramic sunroof for VTR+ and Exclusive versions, the interior is
light, airy and all-round visibility is first class. Also first class, and the
most notable first impression about the new C3, is the huge improvement in the
design and finish of the interior. It looks more expensive, it generally feels
of high quality, it is more sculptured and it looks 'posh' certainly
a higher level in style and quality over other popular superminis. I can see
this feature being a big selling point for retail customers; that and the final
negotiated price, of course.
new C3 is offered in CitroŽn's three core trim levels VT, VTR+ and Exclusive
with a Special Edition 'Airdream+' (available to order now for delivery
from March 2010) that emits just 99g/km of CO2.
entry-level VT models come with generous levels of standard equipment including
an MP3-compatible radio/CD player with steering-mounted controls, electrically-adjustable
door mirrors, front electric windows and a multi-function on-board trip computer.
new C3 delivers
excellent combined cycle
fuel economy of up to
48.7mpg for petrol
models and 74.3mpg
for diesel versions...
At the heart of the range, the likely best selling VTR+ trim gains the panoramic
Zenith windscreen, air-conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights,
leather steering wheel and cruise control with speed limiter.
The range-topping Exclusive models offer premium levels of design and comfort
with additional equipment such as digital air-conditioning, front and rear 'one-touch'
electric windows, electrically-folding and heated door mirrors, part-Alcantara
upholstery, 16-inch alloy wheels and dark-tinted rear windows.
The Special Edition Airdream+ will be CitroŽn's first production model to emit
less than 100g/km of CO2 and represents the greenest choice for the environmentally-conscious
motorist. Based on the VTR+ trim level, it gains two additional features as
standard: rear parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity.
On the downside, ESP (electronic stability programme) is standard on just one
1.6-litre HDi 110bhp model and available as a £300 option on other Exclusive
specification versions but not on any other models. This is a big own-goal for
Citroen as ESP has to be fitted as standard to gain a Euro NCAP five-star safety
rating the new C3 made only four stars and so loses out in the safety
stakes to its main-selling competitors.
Prices start at just £10,790 for the entry-level 1.1i 61hp VT petrol model,
rising to £16,140 for the range-topping 1.6HDi 110hp 6-speed manual Exclusive.
At the heart of the model line-up, and offering an excellent balance of value
and equipment, VTR+ models start at £12,690 for the petrol versions and £13,790
for the HDi-powered equivalent. The low-CO2 Airdream version will cost £14,490.
Talking of engine options, the new C3 is initially offered with the choice of
four petrol engines and three HDi diesels, with the Special Edition Airdream+
1.6HDi 90hp unit with CO2 emissions of 99g/km coming soon.
three HDi diesels are: 1.4 HDi 8V 70hp, 1.6 HDi 16V 90hp and 1.6 HDi 16V 110hp
all emit 115g/km of CO2 or less. The 1.6 HDi 16V 110hp and the 1.6 HDi
16V 90hp Euro V engines (the latter being specified in the Airdream+) are fitted
with Citroen's lauded DPFS (Diesel Particulate Filter System).
four petrol engines are 1.1i 8V 61hp, 1.4i 8V 75hp, 1.4 16V VTi 95hp and 1.6
16V VTi 120hp and emit between 134g/km and 158g/km of CO2. The VTi 95hp and
VTi 120hp are from CitroŽn's family of refined and economical BMW co-developed
would go for the
Exclusive trim level
because it just looks and
feels so good...
drivers keeping a close eye on their fuel costs, the new C3 delivers excellent
combined cycle fuel economy of up to 48.7mpg for petrol models and 74.3mpg for
All engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, apart from the 1.6 HDi 16V
110hp which has a 6-speed manual transmission. The 1.6 VTi 120hp is offered
with a choice of either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions.
Because the C3 is predominately a retail customer car, most sales will be taken
up by the petrol engines but with the significant move to downsize and pay less
tax some fleet and company car drivers will find their annual high-mileage driving
will be better suited to the very economical, less tax incurring, but more expensive
to buy diesel versions.
To get me behind the wheel of a new C3 before the public launch, Citroen kindly
supplied a 1.6 HDi 90bhp Exclusive version priced at £15,190. This is not likely
to be the most popular model but I would go for the Exclusive trim level because
it just looks and feels so good.
I also liked this particular 90bhp diesel engine because it is fuel frugal,
returning 54.8mpg on test. Officially it will average 65.7mpg, but with CO2
emissions of 110g/km it costs only £35 a year for road tax and even company
car drivers will pay a very reasonable 13% Benefit in Kind tax. The 159lb ft
of torque from just 1,750rpm made the C3 feel very responsive at low to medium
speed driving despite the long-legged final drive gear ratio needed for the
low emission rating.
While there is much to like about the new Citroen C3, it is not perfect; and
the competition is fierce. But knowing that Citroen are aggressive with their
showroom deals it looks a possible winner. Not working in its favour is that
ESP is not standard on all models, the seats lack support, the steering is short
on feedback, there's some wind and tyre noise intrusion and deep potholes unsettle
the handling. On the plus side you can list improved quality, the plush high-class
interior, a light and airy cabin with good visibility, mostly well equipped,
a comfortable ride, fuel and tax friendly and easy to live with.
To see more of the new C3 in the metal, watch the television commercials this
Christmas and New Year: it will make better viewing that the usual load of 'repeats'
we will have to endure. David Miles
Citroen C3 1.6 HDi 90bhp Exclusive 5-door | £15,190
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds | Overall MPG: 54.8mpg
Power: 90bhp | Torque: 159lb ft | CO2 110g/km | Insurance group 4E