Nip & tuck makes Citroën’s C3 hatch even cooler. This one really is worth a look
I have a personal affiliation with Citroën that goes back a bit. There was a time when we made the Total Economy Run our own, shortly after the brand returned to SA fifteen or so years ago. We won it several years on the run and took every trophy we signed up for one year. After that, we went to Durban and back on a 41 litre tank of petrol in a C1 — the Picasso I followed in had enough to go back from Jozi to Durbs again! Just to prove our Citroëns were the most economical cars on the road.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg — there’s far, far more to this chic, slick and smart brand than just its cars being the most economical of all. But I digress — spending a week with this new nip and tuck C3 just brought back so many memories that will bring a smile to my, and many a Citroën friend’s faces, who may read this one.
To the point then and this first refresh Citroën since the brand’s recent local reset (it was two years ago actually — we just lost last year!) They tell us that they have sold over a million third-generation C3s already. Europeans do not carry preconceptions. They buy cars like this on their current strengths, rather than ignoring them for past weaknesses.
So all that million mark proves, is how fickle so many a South African car buyer may be. Especially considering just how cool and refined this car is. It looks the part, although this fresh new face may still be a bit of an acquired taste. But then Citroëns have always been a bit of an acquired taste. Oozing the ooh-la-la that so sets it apart, C3 also refines the brand’s latest family look.
NO DOUBT THAT ITS A CITROËN
Our range-topping sampler packed 16” alloys and a contrasting onyx black roof to go with its overall bi-tone body colour twist. Bolstered by a fresh scratch-proof Airbump design with ‘silver effect’ inserts, there’s no doubt that this latest C3 is a 2020s Citroën. Remember that you can customise yours — not just through a range of cool colours, but via a neat selection of different trim options too.
C3’s cabin carries the PSA Group’s stunning recent attention to cabin detail across to Citroen in a splendid yet quirky blend of class and style. That phenomenon is now busy extending across all the Stellantis brands, which is more great news. Plush and cool, C3’s ergonomic advanced Comfort seats live up to their name in a pleasant environment that so well blends stylish trims, harmonious curves and cool colours in fine detail.
The flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel commands various functions including C3’s 7-inch touchscreen infotainment with the expected Android Auto and Apple Carplay kit and the rest. C3 also packs in an unusually high level of driver assistance for its niche. From speed limit recognition to help the cruise control monitor road signs and speed limits and recommend speed changes accordingly, to a driver attention warning with a coffee break alert (what else in a French car?)
C3 HAS A LOT OF TRICKS FOR WHAT IT IS
Add automatic wipers, parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. And don’t forget all the ABS, EBA, EBD, TCS and ESP safety with all the necessary airbags and more.
As you’d expect from a Citroën, C3 rides a treat too. Its 81 kW 205 Nm 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple performs, sounds and feels as cool as the car (although it was a tad off the maker’s claims in our tests) and the fuel gauge’s rate of fall reminded me of those Economy Run winners, 15 years on. The 6-speed automatic just gets on with it and C3 feels like a car a few rungs up the model ladder. Yet it handles and holds the road quite positively. As it should with that WRC pedigree.
Also, despite what some may say about back in the day, it seems that Citroën has now well and truly got that aftermarket bull by the horns. The Citroën Serenity program includes a most competitive 5-year hundred-thousand kilometre warranty, three years of service, roadside assistance and the rest. The company also promises a parts basket waiting for any workshop need. And a courtesy car. Just in case.
DON’T IGNORE THE CITROËN C3
So there you have it — this latest C3 certainly brings a lot more ooh la-la Citroën spark and so many other positives, too. If you’re shopping in this furiously competitive three-hundred grand entry hatchback niche, take the trouble to go take a peek at this latest Citroën C3. You may very well thank us for suggesting that you do so! — Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Citroën C3 1.2 Shine Engine: 81 kW 205 Nm 1.2-litre turbo petrol I3 Drive: 6-speed automatic FWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 4.22 sec 0-100 km/h: 9.96 sec 0-120 km/h: 14.25 sec 0-160 km/h: 29.38 sec 400m: 16.9 sec @ 130 km/h 80-120 km/h: 7.56 sec 120-160 km/h: 15.13 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 194 km/h Fuel: 6.0 l/100 km CO2: 137 g/km Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/3y 60K km LIST PRICE: R324K RATED: 9