Fourth report: awkward positioning

  • Premium convertible makes way for small C3 hatchback
  • Will we miss the soft-top over the summer season?
  • Living with a chic French supermini

  • Premium convertible makes way for small C3 hatchback
  • Will we miss the soft-top over the summer season?
  • Living with a chic French supermini

It was time to delve into the C3’s long-distance comfort and get ourselves acquainted with those seats. Looking as inviting as an overly-padded sofa, they almost ask you to dive onto them like a child would when you open up the doors.

With the C3’s focus majoring on comfort, the front seats are appreciably enveloping on the daily commute – to the extent where you can almost sense the stress dissipating from yourself as you sink into them.

We’ve experienced these in the C4 Cactus before and while some members of the team find them comfortable over longer journeys, a few of us have actually experienced the opposite effect.

Due to the seats being so soft and flat, it’s easy to find yourself slumping into the seat at a jaunty angle after a considerable amount of time, putting your posture at an awkward position.

Factor in the absence of any adjustable lumbar support or any side bolstering and you’ll find yourself constantly fidgeting after a while.

Elsewhere, the passenger seat is set too high and the rear seats are best reserved for children. This could be great news for parents if it sends their kids to sleep but, just like the Peugeot 208, there isn’t much legroom in the back here.

There's less space than a Ford Fiesta for instance, and headroom in particular is noticeably restricted due to a sloping roof.

The panoramic roof certainly helps it feel less claustrophobic but only serves as a temporary distraction from developing a crooked neck. If you do have to sit in the back, the best seat in the house is behind the front passenger, as they'll have more capacity to move forward thanks to the unobtrusive glovebox.

Learning a lesson or two from the Renault Clio...

Naturally, with another French small hatch coming in, we had to see how the newer C3 fared against an older rival. Despite its age, the Renault Clio still showed the C3 a trick or two inside the cabin.

The more athletic-looking Renault has far better seats up front; being firmer, supportive and lined with materials that grip you in place. 

Ergonomically, the Clio is showing its age with its scattered buttons (cruise control, we’re looking at all of you), and fussy steering-wheel-mounted radio controls that feel dreadfully flimsy.

The Renault does absolutely nail one aspect though with its raised door armrest. Sitting at the right height and in close proximity to your elbow, you avoid having to rest it awkwardly on a high-mounted doorcard for long periods of time.

For a car with greater external dimensions than its rivals - the bonnet line is considerably higher than the Clio’s - it’s a shame this hasn’t translated into a more spacious cabin for the C3. Hopefully the C3 Aircross will be more accommodating, but when faced with a three hour drive up to Manchester, the Citroen was all too enticing to leave in the work car park.

Mileage: 6,478

Fuel economy: 53.7mpg

Third report: busy boot

It’s a funny thing, relativity. It certainly makes you appreciate the basic things in life that most of us sometimes take for granted. Not only has the solid panoramic roof been a Godsend in terms of refinement over our previous soft-top, but we’ve been capitalising on the return of a usable hatchback boot.

Mention anything to do with the boot on our previous DS 3 Cabrio and you’d normally have someone chuckling in response, due to its awkward access.

This time, with 300 litres available with the rear seats up and 922 litres with them folded, the C3 has a more generous boot than the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and outgoing Volkswagen Polo.

Sure enough, the high load lip might not be ideal when loading bulkier items but at least we're not crouching down and feeling like we’re rehearsing for the haka as a member of the New Zealand rugby team any more.

The boot floor isn’t too shallow either despite housing a space-saver spare wheel beneath it.

With plenty of torque from the 1.6-litre diesel, it makes light work of hauling any heavy cargo. During a giant Parkers group test, the C3 was perfect for carrying 13 camping chairs in there and a day's-worth of picnic on the rear seats.

With a friend’s wedding coming up, the C3 managed to swallow up a Costco food shop without the need for stacking, including several kilos of barbeque food and a couple of crates of beer.

There are a few gripes though, chief of those being with the glovebox. Left-hand drive versions have over six litres of storage whereas ours can barely fit the manual handbook. This also happened with our DS 3 and is due to the fuse box being in the way, meaning anything wider than the Parkers Price guide - or literally, a pair of gloves - has to live in the passenger door bins.

Likewise the cubby hole beside the starter button. I'm struggling to find a use for it and the key fob is the only thing that fits in there, which is only useful for launching it back out whenever I set off from standstill.

Feeling thirsty? Place a bottle in the cupholder and it’ll obstruct you from selecting first or third gear. But I guess it stops me from buying a milkshake for every journey and limits it to those for when I'm sat in fifth gear on the motorway - I guess that's a silver sugar-free lining and all that...

Mileage: 5,458

Fuel economy: 57.2mpg

Second report: what options have we got?

Our C3 has been attracting some attention lately in the car park. The looks have certainly been a hit - especially from Citroen fans - but we’re wondering if this has been the right model to go for in the range.

You can find the full details in our Citroen C3 review, but the top-of-the-range Flair model comes with the most comprehensive level of equipment in the range.

We don’t think the majority of the added equipment is strictly essential, but the mid-range Feel is limited to a 1.2-litre petrol engine in two lower states of tune: offering 68hp or 82hp each.

We’re slightly apprehensive about the lack of power they offer, especially if you regularly tackle hills or carry passengers, so this effectively makes the decision-making process for choosing a Flair model much easier - if your budget allows, of course. The 75hp diesel available from launch has already been discontinued at the time of writing.

What options are there on the C3 Flair?

The fitted options on our C3 comprise:

  • Polar white paint: £260
  • Urban Red Ambience: Leather steering wheel, red fabric and dash trim - £150
  • Blind spot monitoring: £100
  • Sat-nav: £500
  • Keyless entry and ignition: £250
  • Larger 17-inch alloy wheels: £200
  • Panoramic roof: £400

We're pleased to report that the larger 17-inch wheels haven't ruined the ride. They do look more aesthetically pleasing and maintain the C3's soft riding nature. However, in some ways, it reminds me of Gareth's Audi A6 in that the ride is good, but could be better still. The supple ride would be best sampled on a model with smaller wheels.

The Urban Red ambience brings a welcome dose of colour into the cabin and gets a big thumbs-up from me.

The option box for the alternative Colorado Hype colour scheme however, will indefinitely be left unticked – chiefly because, for my eyes at least, the C3’s cabin appears to have been attacked by a can of fake tan.

The panoramic roof is the sweet spot at the moment. Not only does this allow as much sunlight into the cabin as possible, I also don’t have to lower a soft canvas roof any more like I had to with the DS 3 Cabrio. So, in essence, I can get my dose of Vitamin D without being deafened in the process. Win-win.

There are only two engines available on our model and we’d go with 1.2-litre 110 petrol unless we were a high-mileage user; that engine is far sweeter than the diesel we have here.

Unfortunately there is the small issue of the C3 already feeling a step behind its newer rivals due to the absence of a sixth gear.

Any other options we’re tempted by?

The two features I miss the most from my previous DS 3 Cabrio are the LED headlights and supportive seats. Unfortunately neither of these are available on the C3.

The optional LED headlights on the DS 3 gave a wide spread of light; reverting back to the dim, yellow hue of the C3’s halogens seem like a step backwards.

Seating wise, all models come with the same cloth seats with no leather items available as an optional extra. They seem comfortable for now but I‘m hoping they fare better on longer journeys than those on the C4 Cactus.

We’ll delve into the standard-fit dash-cam soon as well once I’ve figured out how to pair it with my smartphone…

Mileage: 4,976

Fuel economy: 59.3mpg

First report: welcome to Parkers

Let’s face it: I’m not a particularly sporty person - given the choice of exercising or sitting still comfortably, I’d usually go for the latter.

The C3 sits in the supermini crowd in a similar vein. While most rivals run off with a short attention span, chasing after corners, the little Citroen takes a step back with a more relaxed approach; content with arriving later and living life at a slower pace.

I certainly like that ethos in life, but will this similarity mean I’ll gel with it more than the DS 3 Cabrio?

Rather than looking sporty or chiselled like the latest Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza, Citroen has gone for the rounded and slightly rugged look with the C3. It’s deceptively tall too, effectively being the same height as the Peugeot 2008 crossover.

That fresh-faced look helps it sit beside the latest metal in the car park much more comfortably than the ageing DS 3 did.

Climb inside and the softer, flatter seats reminiscent of those in the C4 Cactus lend an extra air of comfort. That said, this is one aspect I definitely miss about the DS 3 Cabrio: the grippy material and figure-hugging side support is noticeably absent here and makes itself apparent when negotiating bends.

We’ve driven the C3 in 1.2-litre petrol form in Flair trim before, and we’re glad to report that our long-termer doesn’t suffer from the same level of wind noise rushing over the windscreen as that example did.

In fact, the extra refinement in the C3 already makes for more of a complete everyday proposition than the DS 3 Cabrio ever did.

We’ve gone for the higher-powered 1.6-litre diesel with 100hp and a five-speed manual gearbox in this example, combined with top-spec Flair trim and Polar White paint.

The contrasting Onyx Black roof is standard on this flagship model along with the airbumps - soft plastic trim on the doors that protect you from car park dents - tinted rear windows and front foglights.

The door mirrors also match the roof in this trim. But with all the gloss back colour coding here, it screams ‘base model from the 1990s' rather than ‘expensive flagship model’. But that’s a personal view and probably just shows my age.

And regardless of this, it’s off to a good start. It’s undoubtedly more serene inside, too, yet just as bright thanks to that vast panoramic roof.

Arriving with 4,500 miles on the clock already, we don’t have to worry about running it in either. More soon.

Mileage: 4,500 miles

Fuel Consumption: 52mpg

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