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Bold, rugged Citroen C3 urban warrior up for supermini scrap

PUBLISHED: 09:22 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:22 08 March 2017

Citroen'’s bold new C3 supermini gets rugged crossover styling that’s going to get it noticed in the supermini crowd. Picture: Citroen

Citroen''s bold new C3 supermini gets rugged crossover styling that's going to get it noticed in the supermini crowd. Picture: Citroen

Citroen

Citroen's new C3 is as in your face as its predecessors have been anonymous. Like it or not, you can't help but notice this sharp-suited supermini, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Citroen’s bold new C3 supermini gets rugged crossover styling that’s going to get it noticed in the supermini crowd. Picture: CitroenCitroen’s bold new C3 supermini gets rugged crossover styling that’s going to get it noticed in the supermini crowd. Picture: Citroen

Test drive: Citroen C3

Contrasting roof colours are among a wealth of personalisation options for the CitroenC3. Picture: CitroenContrasting roof colours are among a wealth of personalisation options for the CitroenC3. Picture: Citroen

It takes something special to get noticed when up against some of the biggest-selling cars in Europe. When you can’t beat them on the presence of sheer numbers, go for a bold personality to outshine them.

Citroen is back to its quirky best with its latest, best-selling C3 supermini. The previous model was inoffensive, and anonymous, in a class dominated by the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo – not a criticism you can level at the bold and bright new model.

The C3 gets padded plastic Airbump body protectors, first seen on C4 Cactus, making it an armour-clad urban warrior up for a fight.

Touch screen frees the fascia of a lot of buttons. Picture: CitroenTouch screen frees the fascia of a lot of buttons. Picture: Citroen

Looks and image

It’s a refreshing change for the better with the family’s two-tier front light signature synonymous and muscular, in-your-face styling that looks robust and dynamic.

What really gets it noticed are those Airbump panels on the doors – standard on range-topping Flair and part of the optional £290 style pack on mid-range Feel. You’ve got to have them – they take the knocks in car parks, look brilliant and without them there’s an odd recess where they should be!

With contrasting roof colours and a host of personalisation options, this C3 is aimed at a more youthful market and young at heart.

Airbump panels protect the bodywork. Picture: CitroenAirbump panels protect the bodywork. Picture: Citroen

Under the bonnet

Mid-spec Feel, above Touch and below Flair, will be the volume model and gets all five engine options – 68, 82 and 110hp 1.2-litre, three-cylinder PureTech petrol, the latter turbo charged, and 75 and 100hp 1.6-litre turbo diesels, all initially with manual gearboxes.

The big seller will be the 82hp petrol which happily trickles around town in high gears but needs to be worked for decent acceleration and overtaking but the engine’s pleasant thrummy note is not intrusive. It cruises quietly at 70mph but is revving higher than some rivals with its clunky manual gearbox having only five, not six ratios.

White-lined doorbins make it easy to see what's in them. Picture: CitroenWhite-lined doorbins make it easy to see what's in them. Picture: Citroen

That said, 50mpg overall in mixed motoring is acceptable.

How it drives

The C3 is not as entertaining in the handling department as rivals – that’s where the more dynamic three-door DS3 comes to the fore – but Citroen’s more practical five-door supermini feels safe and secure on meandering country roads and that’s enough for most drivers.

Six-footers can cope in the back. Picture: CitroenSix-footers can cope in the back. Picture: Citroen

When it comes to ride quality, the C3 is up there with the best, dispatching bumps and lumps with a big-car feel without being soft, soggy or sickly.

Space and practicality

With one of the roomiest supermini cabins, there’s space for four adults – five at a squeeze – with recesses in the front seatbacks freeing up more rear legroom – 22mm more than the previous model – so six-footers can cope. Soft seat upholstery adds to the comfort factor.

Citroen C3's deep 300-litre boot. Picture: CitroenCitroen C3's deep 300-litre boot. Picture: Citroen

And it hasn’t skimped on load space with a deep 300-litre boot, which unfortunately means a high sill, and while the 60/40 split rear seat backs fold flat there’s a step up from the boot floor.

Smart piano black trim panels help distract attention from the hard plastics but the interior feels solid and hard-wearing. White linings for the large doorbins make it easy to see what’s in them.

At the wheel

Another reason to go for the Feel trim is its upgraded fascia, benefitting from DAB radio, Bluetooth hands-free and media streaming with USB port and jackpoint, seven-inch touchscreen for vehicle functions rather than lots of buttons, Mirror Link to connect with smartphone apps and Apple CarPlay with steering wheel-mounted controls.

It’s so nice to see a modern car with a proper speedo, rev counter and fuel and temperature gauges.

A small back screen and chunky C-pillars do nothing for rear visibility so you’ll appreciate that Feel models get a reversing camera and rear sensors.

If you’ve got a sense of fun and want to capture your travels, the C3 introduces ConnectedCAM , standard on Flair and a £380 option on Feel, behind the rear-view mirror. The forward-facing camera can take pictures and video, which can be shared on social media via a free app, and also acts as a dash-cam to record footage of any incidents.

Final say

The C3 is the new extrovert of the supermini sector but its outgoing – or outlandish – styling, depending on your tastes, won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it’s not likely to escape your attention.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Citroen C3 Feel PureTech 82 £13,745 (range £10,995 to £17,095)

Engine: 1,199cc, 82hp, three-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 13 seconds; top speed 104mph

MPG: Urban 49.6; extra urban 68.9; combined 60.1

CO2 emissions: 109g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 18%

Insurance group: 10E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 3,996mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,007mm; H 1,474mm

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