Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Turbocharged petrols and diesels but no sporty ones
  • Petrol units better suited, particularly the PureTech 110
  • Diesels make more sense for regular motorway driving

Citroen hasn’t made any bold claims about the C3 being the most involving car in its segment, and that’s only a good thing. It’s positioning itself firmly in the comfort camp and, with this in mind, it performs well. There’s a range of turbocharged engines to choose from, from an efficient diesel to punchy petrols.

Petrol engine choices

The entry-level PureTech 83 feels quicker than its 0-62mph time of 13.3 seconds suggests, and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. Top speed is 105mph.

Despite its meagre 82hp, this engine still feels eager thanks to its 118Nm of torque, with a characterful three-cylinder thrum coming from under the bonnet egging you on. You’ll need to change down a couple of cogs if you’re met with a hill and need to put your foot down, but on the whole it’s an impressive engine. It’s fine for those who reside in town and city environments.

The PureTech 110 has even more vigour and is our pick of the line-up. It also comes with a six-speed manual and goes from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds, with a top speed of 117mph. Overtakes can be conducted with surprising haste as the engine makes good use of its muscular 205Nm of torque to surge past slower obstacles.

Even with the power-sapping EAT6 automatic gearbox, the 110 motor still feels more urgent than the PureTech 82, taking 10 seconds to reach from 0-62mph and reaching a maximum 119mph.

Economical diesel engines

If you prefer diesel power, you can choose a 100hp version 1.6-litre BlueHDi unit.

The 0-62mph time takes 10.2 seconds and will top out at 117mph. What it lacks in outright power, is made up for with a useful amount of torque, with the highest figure in the range of 250Nm. It feels distinctly old-school but that’s not unwelcome – it’s rather chunky and relaxing to drive, even around town.

However, it’s distinctly lumpy at low rpm and when cold, so it’s best used on long journeys where it’s able to warm up.

Gearbox options

Initially, all engines in the C3 line-up only came with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the Puretech 110 came with a six-speed later on in life. They all have the same issue as other Citroen manual transmissions in that there’s a fairly long, rubbery feeling throw, even if it’s reasonably precise in its action.

The EAT6 six-speed automatic is an option limited to the quickest model – the petrol-engined PureTech 110. Around town it’s jerky and a bit too eager to get going, while ubran traffic – and the stop-start system – only accentuates this.

On the open road it’s fine for cruising, but demand any more on some twisty bits of tarmac and it becomes easily confused, struggling to make its mind up in the bends, changing up or down mid-corner.

That means it’s difficult to make smooth progress, meaning we ended up taking control by using the manual shifts, which isn’t really the point in a car like this with an auto ‘box.

Engines no longer available

What used to kick off the range was a 1.2-litre PureTech 68 engine. You guessed it: it has 68hp. It will also go from 0-62mph in a fairly leisurely 14.0 seconds and onto a top speed of 107mph. We’d ignore that one and opt for the nippier PureTech 83 petrol if your budget allows.

There used to be a 75hp version of the BlueHDI diesel, developing a useful 233Nm of torque. It took 13.7 seconds to go from 0-62mph and reached a top speed of 106mph.

Handling focus on comfort

  • No sporty pretensions in the C3’s handling
  • Primary goal here is ride comfort
  • Encourages relaxed driving style

Like we’ve mentioned already, Citroen knows its customers want comfort over sporty handling, so the C3 isn’t going to set the world alight with sharp steering and taut body control.

That said, body roll is kept in check fairly well and the light steering means it’s easy to place the car on the road.

There’s not a lot of feedback though, so it’s not a car that encourages you to thread it through a series of bends with any real eagerness – it’s certainly much better suited to driving around town where its light controls make it very easy to manoeuvre.

Go too hot into a corner and the front end will easily wash wide. It’s safe and fairly predictable but won’t feel especially rewarding for enthusiastic drivers.

We’re not going to make too many comparisons with the sharper Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2, though – the quirky and comfortable nature of the C3 means you drive it in a relaxed manner.