What is it?
The supermini class is as popular and busy as they come, with models like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo all dominating.
But there are other names you should consider in this class – not least the Citroen C3. This funky model has been around in its current form since 2016, and has clocked up nearly 800,000 sales in that time, but despite that success it remains a car many forget about in this class.
To make sure that that’s no longer the case, Citroen’s launched an updated model, but does it succeed in bringing the C3 back to the top of this class?
On looks alone – both inside and out – you might question how much of this C3 is actually new, and it’s true that this is a pretty mild update as far as facelifts go.
The front-end styling gets a redesign, which we’ll get onto later, with LED lighting now being standard across the range. Meanwhile, Citroen has aimed to expand the C3’s personalisation options – almost tripling the range of possibilities on offer from 36 to 97.
Elsewhere, Citroen introduces its new ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats that have been doing the rounds on the rest of the range.
What’s under the bonnet?
Electrification is yet to reach the Citroen C3 line-up, so instead there is a choice of conventional petrol and diesel options.
An 82bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine kicks off the range, but with no turbocharger, it’s pretty underpowered. The best bet is instead the turbocharged 1.2-litre unit fitted to our test car, producing 109bhp and 205Nm of torque. You can have it with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox that’s utilised on our model.
Performance feels a bit brisker than the 0-60mph figure of 11 seconds suggests, though it’s reasonably efficient as Citroen claims it’ll return between 44.1mpg and 49.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
Citroen’s known for doing things a bit differently, and the C3 is no exception. So whereas many of this model’s rivals might go down the sporty route, this French firm takes a very different approach.
So it’s comfort that is what the C3 is all about, and it’s the fact it’s so exceptionally softly sprung that makes it very comfortable to travel in, though some may find it a touch too floaty. However, it’s a refreshingly good change from the firm setups that litter many new cars these days – even on our test car’s larger 17-inch alloy wheels.
This isn’t a car you’ll choose for fun, though. The soft suspension means it rolls through the corners and struggles for traction when you push on, while the ultra-light steering is clearly set up for town use as it’s pretty lifeless elsewhere. The refinement of this engine is also a bit disappointing – sounding gruff under even mild acceleration.
How does it look?
Must say, though, if comfort is a priority, this thing is really rather good, even on the largest set of alloys. Cool new ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats also definitely live up to their name. pic.twitter.com/2dswSnSHJt
— Ted Welford (@TedWelford) January 15, 2021
The C3 has always been a funky option in the supermini class, and in its latest iteration and with the expanded personalisation, it continues to stand out from the crowd.
The bold colour palette remains, while additional packs bring a contrasting shade to the fog light surrounds and plastic ‘airbumps’ that run along the two doors, too. There’s also a new ‘roof decor’ that adds a bit of extra style.
But the overall design has only marginally changed compared to before – the front-end just received a slight rework that takes inspiration from a recent concept car, though new LED headlights are a welcome addition.
What’s it like inside?
One of the best additions to this update is the introduction of the new ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats. Citroen says they aim to ‘“feel almost like an armchair”, and this isn’t just marketing fluff as they are brilliant, featuring extra support and foam that makes them a joy to sit in. It’s just a bit of a shame they’re only fitted to the top-spec Shine Plus trim level.
But the rest of the C3’s cabin is a touch underwhelming. Despite funky touches like door pull straps and ‘Techwood’ interior decoration, the quality certainly can’t compete with the likes of the Renault Clio, The seven-inch touchscreen isn’t especially slick and responsive, either, though is easy enough to operate and comes with everything you need – sat nav, DAB radio, smartphone mirroring and a reversing camera.
What’s the spec like?
Want the good news? Citroen’s recently announced a new pricing policy that sees the cost of its cars being cut across the range – our test car is actually a significant £1,000 cheaper than before.
It means the range now starts from just £13,980 for a C-Series model, which is generously kitted out with a touchscreen, LED headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels to name but a few features. Mid-spec Shine versions bring rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers, while the range-topping ‘Shine Plus’ gains 17-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, additional safety kit and satellite navigation.
With our top-spec car costing more than £20,000, it’s not the best value, though you can quickly save £1,200 by opting for a manual model instead – bringing the price down to a reasonable £19,000.
Citroen deserves praise for doing things differently with the C3. Its focus on comfort gives it a clear advantage over rivals for those buyers looking for a laid-back driving experience and ease of use, while funky styling and plenty of standard kit adds to the appeal.
But despite this update, this Citroen can’t compete for class honours when there are rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio around. That said, the C3’s scope for personalisation and affordable pricing are further reasons why you could do much worse than perching yourself on those especially comfortable seats on a more permanent basis.
Model: Citroen C3
Base price: £13,980
Model as tested: C3 Shine Plus PureTech 110 EAT6
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol
Max speed: 120mph
0-60mph: 11 seconds
Emissions: 139 g/km CO2