French Fiesta fighter is a quirkily appealing alternative
- Quirky, attractive styling
- Personalisation options
- Very comfortable interior
- Impressive ride
- Lots of safety kit
- Looks won’t suit everyone
- Jerky auto gearbox
- No autonomous braking available
- Not the sharpest drive
For too long the Citroen C3 had been overlooked. While it had similar looks to the classier – and more popular – DS 3, it never quite had the same impact on the supermini sector as its sleek and stylish stablemate.
But this third-generation version, complete with C4 Cactus-style looks and Airbumps, has a raft of technology on board to take the fight to the big hitters in the class, such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo.
Quirky looks and personalisation
Outside it’s a chunky-looking little thing, with squinty LED daytime-running lights like the rest of the Citroen range, low-set headlights, instantly recognisable cladding down the side of the car and plenty of personalisation options in the form of different body, roof and mirror colours.
It certainly grabs your attention, and that’s an important thing for buyers of these cars – they’re largely used around town and customers like the idea of standing out from the hordes of Fiestas, Corsas and Polos you see on the roads.
Inside, the C3 takes more inspiration from the Cactus, with a simplified dash design featuring a touchscreen multimedia system, luggage strap-style door handles and plenty of choices for the seat and dash trim.
The best part is it feels very light and airy thanks to big windows, light materials and the option of a panoramic sunroof, too.
Efficient engine line-up
All engines in the C3 are found in other Citroen, DS and Peugeot cars, so they’re tried and tested and all pretty cheap to run.
The most efficient – unsurprisingly – are the BlueHDi diesels. The 75hp version emits 85g/km of CO2, while the more powerful 100hp version still falls well under the magic 100g/km barrier.
Petrols are impressive too – the worst offender emits 109g/km of CO2, so it’s not going to cost much to tax.
Advanced connectivity and safety tech
For such a small car, the C3 packs a mighty punch when it comes to technology. While there’s nothing new or ground-breaking about featuring a touchscreen infotainment system these days, the C3 comes with MirrorScreen on Feel and Flair trims which includes Apple CarPlay for iPhone users, (with Android Auto coming at a later date).
The headline-grabbing feature is an integrated dashcam – Citroen calls it ConnectedCam – which allows drivers to either capture moments they want to save for social media, or potentially in the event of an accident to capture evidence.
It certainly saves having messy wires dangling around your dashboard (a common issue with retro-fit dashcams) and could be beneficial if the worst should happen.
Handy features like hill start assist and a reversing camera are also found on the options list, but there’s no autonomous emergency braking (AEB) available – not even as an option.
The Parkers Verdict
Rather like Citroens of old, the C3 is a bit of a marmite car. It has quirky styling, a soft ride that's rather at odds with the rest of the supermini pack, and a distinct lack of a sporting model to add an element of sexiness.
On a practical level, it's roomy, and all models are economical and sprightly to drive. The interior is airy and spacious, and most of the touch points feel durable, and look good. The main let-down is the iffy ergonomics that come with the infotainment screen – and the car's reliance of it for important systems, such as its climate control.
Despite all that, it's a likeable car of immense appeal and if you're one of those who Citroen is targeting with this car, then there's no doubt you can happily buy with confidence.