Citroen C3 BlueHDI review

Citroen urgently needed to refresh its C3 range and seems to have done an effective and attractive job without breaking the bank. It is worth noting sales of diesel superminis are not as popular as they used to be. Citroen seems less keen on price discounts than before which could mean stronger second hand values when it comes time to change cars again.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

Buyers can choose from three Citroen 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol engines with 67bhp, 81bhp and 109bhp, or a 1,560cc diesel BlueHDi model with either 74bhp or 99bhp, the latter as fitted to the test car. The 1,560cc transverse four-cylinder diesel produces 99bhp at 3,750 rpm and a punchy 151 lb ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. The turbo charged and intercooled engine is a bit clattery if you are pushing it fairly hard but happy enough at lower revs. From other Citroen and Peugeot BlueHDi diesels we like the willing character and its keenness to tootle around with little effort on low revs. Top speed is 115mph and the car accelerates from rest to 62mph in 10.6 seconds. The standard gearbox across all models is a five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic will also be available with some engines. There was ample stopping power from the front disc and rear brake set-up. Thankfully Citroen has finally ditched the jerky automated manual that it offered on the previous C3 versions.

HANDLING

Despite a deformable rear beam axle rather than anything more sophisticated, this third generation of the Citroen C3 rides and handles well providing you are not pushing the grip levels too hard. And rather like older school Citroens, the front wheel drive car delivers comfort too without either an overly firm ride or a wallowy one. Front springs and struts cope well with the extra weight of the diesel engine rather than the lighter petrol variant. Variable power assisted steering takes away steering effort without removing driver 'feel' too much. There is quite a lot of steering play about the straight ahead. The gear change is rather 'baggy' and prefers a light touch. At 10.9 metres kerb to kerb the turning circle is quite nimble.

BODY STYLE

Citroen is good at doing things in style. Even if the new C3 is only a practical five door supermini there's some panache and personality to it, especially if you add in some interesting colour and trim options. The styling is neat and clean front and rear with ultra slim daytime running lights, a large double-chevron badge and big headlights and fog lights. At the rear, there's a 'floating roof' design with blacked-out door pillars. Yes, you can see hints in the C3 of the C4 Cactus design but that seems to have gone down well in the market. We liked the relatively high driving position. I am not really a fan of the protective body 'Airbump' treatment but I think it is a good idea to offer the option. The boot space could be bigger if not for the shape of the trendy tail-lights. The boot is a generous enough 300 litres but has a big lip so it is worth rehearsing if you are taking two less big bags away with you. Total volume is 900 litres with rear seats folded. The rear seat is split 60:40. Length 3996mm. Width 1749mm (over mirrors).

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Citroen C3 interior

In the days before small cars had to be sporty 'roller skates' they were intended as easy going comfortable transport and that happier medium is what Citroen has tried to achieve with the latest generation of its new C3 range. There is good support from the seats, noise levels are well controlled most of the time and the car rides comfortably. There’s room for four adults on board though knee and leg room is tight in the back. An optional panoramic roof is fitted on Feel and Flair versions only. Rear seat access is fine unless you need more generous rear seat space. The new models have also been made more refined than the last version. The dashboard layout is simple with most models getting by with a seven-inch touch screen that works functions such as entertainment, air conditioning and ventilation. The door bins are big and painted white so it's easier to find things. A storage slot under the touch screen, and a bin big enough for your phone, provides useful oddment space. The satellite navigation is a bit slow but easy to use thanks to key feature buttons. Kerb weight is 1,090kgs.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

With two shared drivers and the car lightly laden over mixed roads, the C3 averaged 51.3 MPG according to the on-board computer compared to an official 76.3 MPG on the laboratory fuel consumption tests. Carbon dioxide exhaust emissions of 95 g/km put this model into the lowest band A tax slot with no road tax to pay. These grades change after April 2017 to an annual VED bill of £100 for diesels. The car comes with a three-year 60,000 mile warranty. Servicing is needed every year or 12,000 miles. The most expensive C3 to insure will be the BlueHDi 100 in group 20E.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The greenest C3 version is the 1,560cc BlueHDi with exhaust emissions of 92 g/km of CO2 when using 15-inch diameter wheels and 93 g/km if you fit 16-inch wheels. Citroen has done a good job of keeping down the weight of the C3. A gear efficiency indicator encourages the driver to make the best use of the engine. There is good flexibility despite only five forward gears. An automatic engine stop-start system saves fuel in stop-go driving. The car has a space saver spare wheel to help keep weight down. Drive carefully and you might get close to 650 miles or more out of a tank of fuel. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 32.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

The driver can click a button to safely take photos or to share on social media using a mobile phone and an app. The fixed camera is fitted behind the rear mirror of the C3 on mid-spec models and above, and is intended to run continuously aimed at the road. It saves footage either side of an accident and was proved effective during the press launch when a colleague had someone back into his car. A longer press of the button captures video for up to 20 seconds, which can then be shared once the car is stationary. Stored content is directly accessible via a free app. All C3 versions have lane departure warning as standard and higher spec models also have driver blind spot warning. With a vast array of trims and fittings, not to mention wheels and options, you are unlikely to ever see two identical Citroen C3s together. Standard kit includes tyre pressure monitor, trip computer, lane departure warning, speed limit recognition and warning, anti-lock brakes and coffee break alert. Options on the test car included Almond Green paint and an Onyx Black roof as no cost options, plus Urban Red Ambience for £150, blind spot monitoring £100, seven-inch touchscreen with Citroën Connect box £500, keyless entry and start £250, 17-inch alloy wheels £200, and panoramic roof £400. The cheapest Touch models don't have air-conditioning or alloy wheels but add DAB radio, cruise control and Bluetooth hands free phone. Feel trim includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, contrast roof colour, electric windows all round and seven-inch touch screen. Flair adds leather steering wheel and gear knob, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and reversing camera.

MODEL SUMMARY

Citroen C3 rear

Model tested: Citroen C3 Flair Blue HDi Diesel 100
Body-style: Five-door supermini
Engine / CO2: 99bhp 1560cc, four-cylinder turbo charged diesel engine / 95 g/km
Trim grades: Touch, Feel, Flair

On-road price: From £17,095. Price as tested £18,955
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS

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Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:10th Jan 2017

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