What is the Citroen C3?
Slotting into the lower reaches of the French brand’s line-up is the Citroen C3, a five-door supermini that almost has a crossover look to it.
- Top speed: 98-120mph
- 0-62mph: 9.1-14.2 seconds
- Fuel economy: 55-76mpg
- Emissions: 97-120g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 300-922 litres
Which versions of the Citroen C3 are available?
In Mk3 guise, the C3 is a different proposition to the models sold before it, not least because it looks less cutesy, with a hint of SUV about its looks, especially with the optional AirBump panels along the doors.
There’s one bodystyle again this time around, that of the five-door Citroen C3 Hatchback, but the closely-related Citroen C3 Aircross is a direct rival to small SUVs such as the Ford EcoSport, SEAT Arona and Vauxhall Crossland X.
Trim levels follow Citroen’s usual Touch, Feel and Flair hierarchy, which can be mixed and matched with a small selection of engines. The petrol powerplant is a three-cylinder 1.2-litre in 68hp, 82hp and turbocharged 110hp guises, while the 1.5-litre BlueHDi turbo diesel is only available in 100hp form.
What is the Citroen DS3?
There’s no performance version of the C3, but a more luxurious, three-door version of the second-generation model was sold between 2010-15 as the Citroen DS3.
With punchier engines and a more distinctive design, it was an upmarket replacement for the previous Citroen C2 – the sportier alternative to the original C3.
British buyers lapped-up the DS3, much more so than the larger Citroen DS4 and DS5, encouraging Citroen’s parent company, PSA, to spin DS off as a separate brand. Come 2015 the Citroen badging was removed and the car relaunched as the DS 3.
Citroen C3 styling and engineering
Based on a platform known internally as PF1, the third generation C3 rides on an updated version of the underpinnings that also supported both the Mk1 and Mk2 models.
In place of their curvy-roofed styling, the latest C3 has more than a hint of the larger C4 Cactus about it, particularly when the AirBumps are fitted to the doors.
It’s altogether chunkier and can be made to look more distinctive with a contrast colour roof section, as well as three contrasting accents set into the plastic mouldings.
There’s a C4 Cactus vibe to the interior as well, with panels designed to look like luggage with straps and contrasting detailing. Some of the plastics still feel on the cheap side, but at least they don’t look nasty too.
Is the Citroen C3 good to drive?
Driving a C3 is a relaxing experience, largely by virtue of its very supple ride and armchair-like front seats. If outright comfort is your primary box to be ticked, then the Citroen is the way to go.
There is a compromise, though, and that is that the Citroen’s more wallowy, rolling around more in bends than most of its rivals, not least the Ford Fiesta.
However, its gentler nature means you’re unlikely to be driving it too vigorously in the first place – it’s definitely not remotely a hot hatch.
How much does the Citroen C3 cost?
Shop around though as depending on offers available each quarter some rivals can be cheaper – use that as a bargaining chip with a Citroen dealer.
See how drivers of the Citroen C3 rate their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
Citroën C3 Model History
Current-generation Citroen C3 (2017-)
December 2016 – Third-generation C3 available to order with first deliveries from January 2017. Exterior and interior styling inspired by the C4 Cactus, with many models featuring Airbumps on the lower edges of the doors. Three launch trim levels are Touch, Feel and Flair, all powered by a range of efficient engines. Petrol choices are the PureTech 68, 82 and 110 units, with diesels offered in BlueHDi 75 and 100 forms.
Second-generation Citroen C3 (2010-17)
It was more of the same with the Mk2 version of the C3, with a similarly curvy roofline, a grille design that was more in keeping with Citroen’s other models and two spin-off designs.
Reaching the UK in early 2010 was the five-door Citroen C3 Hatchback, which like the larger C4 Picasso MPVs could be specified with an extended windscreen, continuing the glass line well into the front portion of the roof. It made for an airy cabin, but was a pain on bright, sunny days.
Although better-built than its predecessor, cheap-feeling plastics dominated the interior, while more conventional instruments took away some of the Citroen’s sense of fun.
Two closely related models shared much of the C3’s underpinnings: the upmarket three-door Citroen DS3 and DS3 Cabrio offered a posher Citroen small car experience, while the perpendicular Citroen C3 Picasso MPV arrived in 2009, before the regular hatchback.
Fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines were offered, but there was no dedicated sporty version to choose from.
Read our user-generated second-generation C3 owners’ reviews and find examples for sale.
First-generation Citroen C3 (2002-10)
Styled to evoke memories of Citroen’s classical 2CV, the Mk1 C3 had a distinctively arcing roofline and a wide, deep grille, but it was no retro pastiche.
Arriving in 2002 to replace the ageing Saxo models, the Citroen C3 Hatchback was only available as a five-door, with no sporty derivatives.
Instead, those more athletic versions were offered in the equally distinctive, and slightly smaller Citroen C2 – the C3’s three-door sibling, complete with a style-over-substance horizontally split tailgate.
Sharing no bodywork with its hatchback sibling, the curious convertible-roofed Citroen C3 Pluriel arrived in 2003. Rather than a conventional soft-top, the Pluriel’s could be used as a giant fabric sunroof that slotted into a cassette in the boot, while the roof bars could also be removed for a completely open feel.
Disappointingly, it shared the regular C3’s cheap-feeling and flimsily built interior.
Between 2004 and 2007 there was also the short-lived Citroen C3 XTR, with a variety of rugged-looking black plastic body panels, not dissimilar to the SUV-esque touches on today’s range.