Back in the “good old days” Citroen were world famous for their out of the box thinking, quirky design, and superior ride comfort. Throughout the early part of the millennium the French brand started to fade into the background, and like a teenager, began to worry about its image. Sure, fitting in with the masses broadens appeal, but it wasn’t the Citroen we admired. With the launch of the outrageously funky all-new 2017 Citroen C3 it would appear that the double chevron has got its mojo back!
Say what you will about the opinion splitting Citroen Cactus, personally I like it, the new C3 is a trendy Tetris cube of a B-segment hatchback. Contrasting colours paint a vivid picture of a car that is out there to be different. Two-tone schemes involving the roof, door mirrors, and foglight surrounds, create 36 different combinations. Our test car in what we are dubbing “Inside Lane Blue” with white accents looked striking. Air Bumps return along the side of the car, although if you dislike them they can be deleted. The thin band of LEDs that link to the two bar chromed grill make up the Citroen family face. Black cladding around the wheel arches hints at some SUV inspired aspirations.
If you think the budget must have been blown on the exterior, you would be wrong. The interior is just as vivid in design and is actually a rather interesting place to be. Our test car in top specification Flair guise feature tanned leather inserts which actually adds an air of sophistication to the cabin. Modern styling surrounds you like an art gallery, with interesting patterns on the doors and an intricate dashboard. A touchscreen infotainment display floats on the centre console and enables a clutter-free space. It runs the latest software from PSA of which is more ergonomic, but the system can take a moment to think about things at times. The seats are very comfortable and supportive meaning that they will do nicely when commuting. Its rear bench seats three with plenty of leg room, although leg room is not the best in class. What is one of the best in class would be the boot at 300 litres. Whilst on the subject of the interior, mid-level specification cars and up receive ConnectedCAM of which is a windscreen mounted camera. It acts as a dash cam in the event of an accident, or can be linked to social media to share your more interesting journeys.
Under the bonnet of this specific 2017 Citroen C3 is the award winning 1.2 litre 3 cylinder turbocharged unit from PSA. It has actually won the top engine prize twice, 2015 and 2016! It is right at home in the new C3 and is our pick of the range. It doesn’t make this hatchback the fastest out there, but producing 110 HP and 205Nm of torque, it is peppy and emits an endearing thrum higher up in the rev range. Work that 5 speed manual transmission and it will muster a respectable turn of pace. Despite lacking a 6th cog, at higher speed it can hold its own, but the excellent BlueHDi diesel option would be more beneficial if you do regular motorway miles. Obviously, this is not a sports car and so it isn’t the most engaging to drive, but it possesses plenty of reassuring grip and well weighted steering. The key focus for Citroen was comfort and that is something it excels in. Its ride is impressive, soaking up the lumps and bumps of our British roads without fuss. Road and wind noise are also nothing to write home about as the cabin is well insulated. The three cylinder engine is remarkably quite low in the rev range, meaning that urban driving is less grating. Speaking of the urban battleground, this 2017 Citroen C3 is just the right size to pick its way through a sprawling high street. The torque from the aforementioned turbo really helps you take advantage of gaps that open in the traffic. Visibility is also good, but aiding parking in our test car was a reversing camera.
Citroen are back and the all-new C3 brings with it all of the things that the French brand were loved for. As the likes of Ford’s new Fiesta pushes strongly upmarket, I believe the 2017 Citroen C3 stands a very good chance of being that respectably priced car (starting at £10,995) that makes its own unique statement. This C3 with pretty much every toy under the sun came to £17,555. It is characterful, cheap to run, and pleasingly refreshing when compared to key rivals. This is what Citroen is all about.