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Citroen C3 Update 13: farewell

  • 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’s time to bid farewell to our Citroen C3. Our not-so-little Ford Fiesta rival tried to charm us with its comfort-biased personality and rugged-chic styling, but how did it fare overall?

Well, the general consensus in the Parkers team seems to be that the C3 is a refreshing attempt at a non-sporting supermini. However, it just misses the mark in execution.

In my first report, I said that I was glad to have been paired up with a car that had a laid-back approach in life that matches my own. But as time went by, the C3 didn’t quite waft along well enough for me to fully relax in.

When I’m in the mood to effectively switch off on a journey and clear my head, the C3 is great at being driven at a moderate pace.

The problem is, there are a couple of issues which stem from - and detract from - the experience after spending extended time in the cabin. The soft seats became uncomfortable on longer journeys with their lack of support, while my tolerance in having to decipher the frustrating-to-use touchscreen system soon began to wane.

Were there any foibles elsewhere?

Sat-nav woes

The sat-nav worked most of the time, but proved infuriating when it didn’t. It certainly didn’t appear to like London very much once, taking me somewhere half an hour away from the intended destination before it stopped working altogether.

If you do require a sat-nav, we’d simply recommend using Google maps on a smartphone and mirroring it to the main screen. Or a portable unit. Or a printed map. Or just asking a passing local. Anything would be better than the built-in system.

Remote lockout

The Citroen C3 seemed to enjoy itself on our Yorkshire trip so much that it didn’t want to leave. As we were about to set off for the journey home, pressing the starter button simply left us with a message on the centre touchscreen saying ‘Key absent, confirm engine switch off with a long press’.

There is a backup sensor on cars with keyless ignition and for the C3, you just had to hold the key fob against a particular spot on the steering column.

This got the small hatchback fired up again but when it came to locking the car that evening, pressing the lock button resulted in the doors immediately unlocking themselves again.

After repeated attempts and reopening and closing all the doors and boot, I wasn’t having any luck. Since I wasn’t prepared to leave a car full of luggage outside the supermarket unlocked, I had to seek an alternative car. Typically, after moving out of the C3, the remote locking decided to work properly again…

Would we buy one?

The C3 is certainly a likeable car. We admire that Citroen went for a comfort-biased approach and eschewed the garish bodykits found on so many rival hatchbacks. In doing so, Citroen has gone against the crowd and that gives it something of a unique selling point.

How long it remains likeable, however, will depend on how comfortable the owner finds driving it. With its foibles, the C3 feels almost incomplete.The larger C3 Aircross is a bit more polished in fulfilling its comfort-biased role and we’d be tempted to go for one of those instead.

If you are considering a C3, the 1.2-litre 110 PureTech petrol engine is sweeter to drive and cheaper than our diesel.  It’s also only available in the same top-spec Flair trim as ours so that makes the decision process simpler - if it falls into budget. Plus, you can save yourself some money by not getting the sat-nav.

For us, it could have become the benchmark in its class for being the most comfortable contender. But it’s not quite there yet.

Now though, we’re upsizing to its bigger cousin: the Peugeot 308.

Mileage: 9,831

Fuel economy: 53.8mpg


Update 12: a bit of TLC

It was time to give our long-term C3 a bit of TLC. With the spanner symbol lighting up in the instrument cluster, we gave our local Citroen dealer a ring to arrange a service.

At just over 8,000 miles, this would be the first time we’ll have serviced our 1.6-litre BlueHDi during its time with us. Robinsons Citroen in Peterborough was our nearest dealer and, since they arranged to collect and return the C3 to the office within work hours, the process could not have been simpler.

They changed the engine oil and gave the C3 a health check, with the brakes, fluid levels, lights, windscreen wipers, exhaust and tyres all subjected to a once over.

An unexpected surprise was a video link emailed to us of the car. With a technician talking through the inspection process, not only did it allow us to see the car underneath but it gave us peace of mind on the state of any consumables.

The total bill came to £231.50 including parts.

Blue Monday

Since we had booked in the C3 for a service, we decided to top up the AdBlue tank. With the trip computer flashing up the message ‘no start in 1,700 miles’, we checked how much of a refill was really needed.

Press the spanner button on the instrument panel and you can cycle through the messages on the lower display screen, indicating a countdown for both service intervals and how much AdBlue is left.

Considering a few members of the team described how awkward the refilling process can be, I was expecting this to be messy episode where I’d end up wearing most of it.

Luckily, with access to the AdBlue tank positioned conveniently beside the fuel filler, this was both logical to find and a whole load easier to pour into than other previous long-termers, with theirs' positioned in the engine bay or in the boot. 

I'm happy to report my shoes remained dry in the process and our little Citroen is now back to full health.

Mileage: 8,971
Fuel economy:
53.3mpg


Update 11: get some air…

With the bigger, chunkier C3 Aircross arriving on the new-car scene, the opportunity to see how our long-termer stacked up against it was too easy to pass up.

Quite a few superminis live in the C3’s shadow, given the size of our ‘small’ Citroen, but the Aircross suddenly makes our long-termer look quite petite. At first glance, the C3 Aircross looks even taller and less chic with its square-shaped bodywork.

While our C3 feels like a concoction of supermini and compact SUV style-wise, the Aircross is the full-fat, rugged version taking on the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.

Just like its smaller sibling, the C3 Aircross comes with a big boot and plenty of personalisation options – there are 85 colour combinations to choose from. The one you see here is finished in Cosmic Silver paint, with a black roof and the ‘orange colour pack’ – adding highlights to the roof rails, door mirror caps, rear window, headlight surround and wheel centre caps.

Unlike our C3 however, there’s more rear-seat space and two extra engines to choose from; each coming with a sixth gear and offering more power.

The 1.2-litre PureTech from our previous DS 3 Cabrio is available, producing 130hp and 230Nm torque - an increase in 20hp and 25Nm over the C3’s flagship PureTech 110.

There’s a more powerful BlueHDi 120 diesel engine too, which is the one we’re crying out for in our C3.

How does it compare?

We hopped into the diesel BlueHDi 120 and found it more refined than our C3, being quieter with less diesel clatter filtering through to the cabin. The extra power and torque make light work of town driving, picking up speed cleanly from low revs before churning out a decent level of performance. This makes the Aircross far more relaxing to drive than our C3.

We couldn’t help but try the 1.2-litre PureTech 130 too. While the diesel makes more sense in a car of this size, the petrol is sweeter and muscular enough for the majority of the time.

The six-speed gearbox in both feels tighter and nicer to use and while there’s plenty of bodyroll, the Aircross isn’t so soft that it sways violently from side to side. The suspension setup is also better balanced - it's firmer low-speed ride over the C3 means the rear of the car doesn't thump when going over sharp bumps, while at higher speeds it'll soften up as well.

It’s not perfect though. Climb inside and you’ll find the fixed passenger seat is still set too high, meaning taller passengers will find themselves quite close to the sunvisor.

Is the Aircross the one to get?

If you are in the market for a small SUV, the C3 Aircross feels like a more complete car that manages to successfully fulfil its brief.

While the C3 suffers from a slight hint of identity crisis, the Aircross seems to address some of our long termer’s shortcomings. You get the better engines, more rear-seat passenger space and a more settled suspension set-up.

The interior is made with nicer materials too, while those looking for tech can have a very clear head-up display or a wireless charging pad for their phone that you won’t find on the C3’s options list.

Mileage: 8,755
Fuel economy:
54.0mpg


Update 10: road trippin'

It was time to pack an overnight bag, fill up the tanks (both diesel and windscreen washer ones), and check tyre pressures: the C3 was going to stretch its legs by going on a road trip to Whitby.

I was quite excited about this. The C3 has chiefly been used as a workhorse, so this was a great opportunity to try our small, comfort-biased hatch on a mixture of roads I’d never driven before.

I was looking forward to seeing what other members of the Parkers team thought too, after we’d swapped over into each other’s long term test cars.

Was this an opportunity for the C3 to shine?

We already know the C3 is set up for comfort, but how comfortable people actually find it has been more of a mixed bag.

Some people have graced the comfort-biased approach with open arms, while others have been taken by surprise. A friend stated:

‘I’ve not been in a car that sways this much since my Peugeot 205.’

Our long-termer isn’t as poised as its rivals, but it’s certainly entertaining in a different manner as it leans into corners.

What did other members of the Parkers team think?

Tom Goodlad

‘Despite the C3’s bouncy, comfy image, it proved surprisingly fun on a twisty, undulating road. It felt agile thanks to its pokey 1.6-litre diesel engine and the seats were exceptionally comfortable for any rough surfaces. However, it didn’t take long for a set of up-and-down sections to unsettle the car, as it struggled to control and gather up the body movement.

'The light steering helped with manoeuvrability, and it was also pretty refined on a calmer drive after all the twisty bits, but a bit more time spent in it revealed some ergonomic issues regarding the high driving position, difficult-to-read dials and awkward touchscreen.'

James Dennison

‘At a time when just about every supermini on the market is marketed as being ‘sporty’ and ‘nimble’, it’s nice to step into something that, well, isn’t… From the light, twirly steering to the torquey diesel engine and long throw gearbox, there’s not so much as a nod towards making the C3 a budget hot hatch or feisty pocket rocket.

'And while personally, I rather like a small, sporty car, I applaud Citroen for going against the tide and making something different. We need more cars like this.’

Christofer Lloyd

‘Despite ever more manufacturers offering ‘sporty’ trims, it's comfort that tops most buyers’ wishlists when it comes to driving characteristics.

So it makes a nice change to drive something like the C3 that is so focused on comfort. However, one fundamental issue is that I don’t actually find the car comfortable.

Yes, the suspension is mostly smooth and the seats are nice and cushy when you’re not going anywhere, but Citroen doesn’t seem to have thought about how comfortable they are when you have a clutch pedal, brakes and throttle to operate.

The gearchange is also clunky with the oddly-shaped gearlever not being the nicest to use.

As a result, I can never find a comfortable driving position, so if you’re considering getting your own C3 you’ll definitely want to go for a long test drive to make sure you can get on with it.

Worse than that, however, is the abysmal media system, which is not only massively distracting, it's unnecessarily complicated with a slow-to-respond touchscreen. Considering using a mobile phone behind the wheel is illegal, I can’t fathom out how such a concentration-sapping system is allowed in a brand new car.’

You can read more about the road trip and the C3 here

Mileage: 8,382
Fuel economy:
50.6mpg


Update 9: lesson from the past

Is newer necessarily better? The Peugeot 208 was launched back in 2012 and has since been a staple contender in the small hatchback market, up against the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and SEAT Ibiza.

Fast forward to 2017 and our closely-related Citroen C3 arrives onto the scene, wearing chunky bodywork and sitting with a jacked-up crossover-like stance.

Has the C3 moved the game on?

Not necessarily…the Peugeot may not be as fresh-faced as the C3 but it can certainly teach the Citroen a thing or two.

Despite being the older car, the same 1.6-litre diesel engine is surprisingly quieter inside the cabin. There’s less clatter filtering though and the engine makes less of a racket when worked.

The pedals are more responsive too and the seats fitted on this GT-Line model are very similar to those on our previous DS 3 Cabrio, meaning there’s greater side support and long-distance comfort for me.

The centre touchscreen on the C3 might provide an up-to-date and minimalist look on the dash, but operating it on the move isn’t as simplistic as we’d hope. On the 208, the climate control is separate from the infotainment system and makes adjusting the temperature far easier on a day-to-day basis.

With two toggle switches for the temperature and six other buttons in total, this doesn’t clutter up the dash at all and saves us repeatedly sifting through menus or having to leave the sat-nav screen.

Manufacturers: don’t completely deprive us of buttons, please!

Is the Peugeot 208 still any good?

The little Peugeot may not be at the top of its class but it continues to prove itself as a well-rounded package.

Both of these superminis come up short in terms of rear passenger space, despite the larger exterior proportions of the C3. The Citroen might feel like a mini crossover in comparison, but you can sense a level of compromise on the road, especially when the solid rear axle thumps loudly and uncomfortably over speed bumps.

The C3 could serve as the stepping stone to a full-size crossover though, offering the raised seating position but without the cumbersome exterior of a full-sized one to cater for on the roads.

Mileage: 8,019

Fuel economy: 49.2mpg


Update 8: Leiseing out the C3

It was time to get a second opinion on the C3. As someone with no children and little demand for practicality, the C3 hasn’t really been pushed to its full potential as a small family car.

The boot is more than big enough for what I need to carry and despite the rear seats being cramped for adults, they rarely get used; serving more as extra storage space.

We got our Office Manager Leise Enright and her two young sons to put the little hatchback to the test. Could it stand up to the test of a small family?

Things were off to a good start…

As the previous owner of a Citroen Saxo, jumping into the C3 felt like home again for Leise. Out of all the cars she’d previously owned, the Saxo was also her favourite, so our C3 was enough to bring back a sense of nostalgia.

She said 'I like that it's small enough to feel nippy, but still spacious enough to carry the kids.'

Combine this with the large boot usefully coming into play during the weekly food shop and the C3 proves to balance interior space with a small exterior footprint.

It's not perfect though. 'The cupholders are too small to fit the kids' drinks bottles in for football and the storage bins in the rear doors are too small to put things in.'

That's practicality ticked, so how about driving?

The driver’s seat has a decent range of adjustment for smaller drivers, while the smooth ride makes for a car that’s easy and comfortable to drive.

The touchscreen infotainment system is easy enough to use and the uncluttered dash with its few buttons means it’s not a daunting place to contend with when navigating through the cabin functions.

Not only was pairing her phone via Bluetooth easier to complete than other cars in the Parkers long-term fleet, but it reconnects right away each time she gets back in the car. It’s easy to type a name in the phonebook, too, although the music streaming occasionally cuts out.

Surprisingly, the camera hasn’t been that useful as you still have to use the mirrors to see if you’ve parked up straight between the bay lines; serving as an additional reference point rather than a function you solely rely on.

The parking sensors are fundamentally more useful but it shows how generously equipped our C3 is when the more expensive Golf GTE doesn’t have a camera fitted.

The verdict?

'It's a cool little car!' concludes Leise.

The diesel engine is nippy enough and good on fuel, meaning less time has to be spent at the petrol station when running errands.

As a car with a few more design features than normal, how good the C3 looks is colour-specific.

'I like it in white; if I were to buy one I'd have it in that colour. It would look good in black too, but I don't think certain colours would suit it though, like red.'

And what about those Airbumps?  With Leise being particularly wary of car park dents every time she leaves a car, the Airbumps gave reassurance that it could handle some careless neighbours parked beside her.

The C3 is shaping up to be a pretty comprehensive package for small families then.

Mileage: 7,629

Fuel economy: 49.8mpg


Update 7: Finance

With help from the finance calculator on the Citroen website, we’ve been sifting through the numbers to see how affordable our C3 really is.

Opt for a C3 Flair BlueHDi 100 and this comes in at just under £300 per month on a 37-month PCP deal. This comes with a 10,000 mile-per-year limit and requires a £1,000 deposit.

You can find out more about the C3 deal here

But what if you fancy something different after a C3 hatch? We did a spot of window shopping here at Parkers and if you spec a diesel Ford Fiesta Titanium X, that will cost you an extra £57 more per month over 36 months. This is with the same deposit applied, but a lower 9,000-mile-per-year limit. This does include a more powerful diesel than our C3, however, along with a heated steering wheel and leather seats.*

If you fancy something different and apply the same 10,000-mile annual limit, £1,000 customer deposit and 37-month PCP deal, you could get:


The bargain-hunter’s choice:

Need something bigger for the family? You could upgrade to a hatchback in the class above with the Hyundai i30 SE 1.6 110hp diesel, costing just over £295 per month. This deal comes with 0% APR and with it being £4 per month cheaper than the C3, this could be a win-win situation.

You can find more about this specific i30 deal here

The stylish choice:

Fancy something else with quirky looks? The MINI Cooper D Clubman can be had for just over £305 per month. For that incremental price hike, you get a more powerful engine, more space and split-tailgate doors.

Click here more information on this MINI Clubman deal

The economical-automatic choice:

Would you prefer an automatic gearbox? The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid SE might be an entry-level model with a few toys missing compared to our C3 (alloy wheels, sat-nav and Apple CarPlay being notably absent), but this spacious hybrid can be had for just under £315 per month. It may cost more per month but the first year VED road tax is lower at £90 – rather than £120 – and it claims a higher 83.1mpg over the C3’s 76.3mpg. Useful, when petrol is cheaper at the pumps.

http://configure.hyundai.co.uk/ioniq/finance?

Maximum space:

If you’re looking for maximum capacity, how about the Skoda Octavia hatchback? With 590 litres of boot space compared to the MINI Clubman’s 360 litres and the C3's 300 litres, this 1.6 TDI 115hp SE can be had for under £312 per month.

Find out more about the Skoda Octavia on finance here

So there you have it, there's certainly a diverse range of choice to be found on a very similar budget to our C3. While our long-termer might be the smallest car here for the price, the Ford Fiesta does suddenly look quite pricey... 

Mileage: 7,342

Fuel economy: 50.0mpg


Update 6: a classic Citroen in the making?

We pondered whether our previous DS 3 Cabrio had the potential to become a future classic and now our attention turned to the C3. On the face of it, the little hatchback immediately seems to fit the Citroen stereotype bill with its soft suspension, squishy seats and quirky looks.

Sure enough, there may not be many classic hatch-cum-SUV-looking Citroens around, but could this be the pioneering model?

We lent the C3 to James Walshe, Assistant Editor at Practical Classics, for the weekend. Conveniently, as a Citroen DS owner, this would set him up in good stead to see if he could spot any potential signs.

‘Having only owned and driven classic cars for a decade, hopping into the new C3 was an enlightening experience. Initially bamboozled by the tech advances of the past ten years, I soon adjusted to the controls.

‘Once settled in, I was less comfortable with the view of the outside world. Thick pillars, shallow windows and laughably-large blind spots mean that the rear-view camera is more necessity than luxury.

‘My biggest concern involved the removal of ergonomically designed knobs and buttons. Heating, ventilation and multimedia functions are now controlled entirely via a central screen unit which is, like many a modern car, screwed to the dashboard like a cheap tablet.

‘This means – for instance to simply adjust the temperature – you have no choice but to take your eyes off the road in order to negotiate menus and sub-menus on a reflection-prone screen, which ought to at least be tilted towards the driver.

‘Clumsy and distracting tech aside, the C3 is easy to drive, extremely well made and amusing to look at. The AirBumps are a brilliant idea, but they don’t extend to the leading edge of the rear doors; where they would actually be of use when transporting careless passengers.

‘In an infantile world of sporty small cars marketed at daft Nurburgring champion wannabees, the C3 manages to be as sensible as it is charismatic.’

Mileage: 7,075

Fuel economy: 50.1mpg


Update 5: snap happy

Dash-cams have quickly become a sign of the times over the past couple of years – giving drivers extra security, should they be involved in a crash. The number of motorists choosing to fit such a device to their vehicle is on the rise, while it’s easy to lose hours on YouTube and social media watching footage of recorded incidents.

With the ConnectedCam dash-cam fitted as standard on our C3 Flair, it’s the equivalent of having a built-in sat-nav and not having to fumble with a separate TomTom all the time. This frees up a USB port or cigarette lighter socket as a power source and avoids any cables trailing around the cabin.

It’s not a gadget I would have expected to see predicted on Back to the Future, but we’ve yet to find a fully-integrated camera on another vehicle.

In the event of an accident, the camera will automatically save a 90-second clip for you; tracing back 30 seconds prior to the accident and one minute afterwards.


You can pair your smartphone via WiFi and download the pictures and footage using the free ConnectedCam app, with the option to share them onto social media - such as Facebook or Twitter - or send via email.

C3 dash-cam picture and video quality

The dash-cam might record in Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, but the pictures and footage lack any clarity.

 

It’s fine when you’re close to the car in front, but the window of opportunity to identify numberplates, is quite limited.

Computer says no…briefly

Strangely enough, after transferring the video files onto our PC, they wouldn’t play. We had to rename the files to include ‘.mp4’ at the end before they would be recognised by a media player programme.

Is it an option worth paying for?

With ConnectedCam fitted as standard on Flair models, it’s available as an option on mid-range Feel. With a wide-angle view that easily covers three lanes of traffic – though it’s not as wide as most dedicated dash-cams – we’re glad that such a device has been fitted on our C3; even if the quality deteriorates at night.

The thing is, the unit is so well integrated into the rear-view mirror we’d mostly forgotten that it was there after the initial period with the C3, with the button hidden away at the base of the pod the only giveaway.

Mileage: 6,900

Fuel economy: 51.8mpg


Update 4: awkward positioning

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


Update 3: 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


Update 2: 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


Update 1: 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

Update 12