Citroen C3 review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Comfortable, refined and cheap to run, Citroen’s C3 is only really let down by its handling

For: 
Efficient new petrol and diesel engines, comfortable, lots of space
Against: 
Four-star Euro NCAP result, not as fun to drive as its rivals

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Attractive looks and varied performance packages make the Citroen C3 a strong supermini rival to the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Suzuki Swift.

Four different specifications make up the current Citroen C3 range. Electric front windows and a CD player are standard in the Citroen C3’s basic VT specification, while the VTR+ model adds air-con and cruise control. Alloy wheels are included on most VTR+ models too. The range-topping Citroen C3 Exclusive version really stands out from other C3s thanks to a huge panoramic windscreen. 

­­The latest Citroen C3 is also available with a choice of several different engines. Three-cylinder 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol units are supplemented by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol. Then you have the 1.4 and 1.6-litre HDi diesels.

Those needing extra space should pick the bigger Citroen C3 Picasso, while the upmarket Citroen DS3 supermini and Citroen DS3 Cabrio convertible should satisfy buyers looking for more individuality and performance. 

Our choice: C3 1.2 VTI PureTech VTR+

Styling

3.8

LED daytime running lights, a body-coloured splitter in the lower air intake and a bold double chevron grille add to the Citroen C3’s stylish design.

Updated reflectors and taillights have also been fitted to the car’s rear end and the C3 is available in several striking body colours including the bold Ink Blue.

Inside, the Citroen C3’s striking dials dominate the instrument cluster and equipment levels are generally high.

The basic VT model is limited in terms of standard kit. Those wanting features like air-con, 15-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers can upgrade to the mid-spec VTR+.

Top of the range Exclusive models get 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, electric windows, front fog lights and luxury velour carpet mats. A large panoramic windscreen is also included but be warned, this can be expensive to repair if damaged. 

Driving

2.8

High speeds and motorway driving are handled easily in the Citroen C3. It’s a comfy and refined long-distance cruiser.

On twistier roads the handling leaves more to be desired. It rolls  around in corners and generally the C3 isn’t the sharpest feeling supermini out there.

The Citroen C3’s three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines use direct injection technology and are design to reduce weight along with running costs. We recommend the 1.2 VTI PureTech VTR+ which does 62.8mpg and returns 107g/km of CO2.

The Citroen C3’s diesel engines are even more economical on fuel but they’re considerably more  expensive and we’d only recommended them for high mileage drivers. The 1.4 HDi VT emits just 99g/km of CO2.

Reliability

3.2

Citroen ranked 24th out of 32 in Auto Express’ 2013 Driver Power survey, dropping two places from the 2012 results. Handling was identified as Citroen’s biggest issue but performance, reliability and build quality were also rated poorly.

The Citroen C3 received a four-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested back in 2009, scoring just 40 per cent in the safety assist category. This is because ESP isn’t standard in the Citroen C3 range and is only an optional extra in the VTR+ and Exclusive models. Driver, passenger and side airbags are included in all versions.

The current Citroen C3 range has had no reported problems or recalls, although several recalls were made on previous models. 

Practicality

3.8

The Citroen C3’s height and clever packaging allow it to rival the larger Ford Focus in terms of cabin space. Suitcases and other bulky cargo can be stowed easily in its 300-litre boot which is only 16 litres smaller than that in the Ford Focus.

If you fold the 60:40 split back seats you can increase boot space to an impressive 1,121 litres. The under floor storage area can hold the parcel shelf when the rear seats are folded but a large load lip makes loading bulky objects awkward.

The C3’s front seats are very adjustable and the plentiful head and legroom should also keep taller passengers happy. Unfortunately, a large fusebox takes up most of the glovebox so you may need to find somewhere else to put your gloves.­­­­­­­

Running Costs

4.2

The PureTech engines make the cheaper Citroen C3 models impressively efficient. The old four cylinder 1.1 VTi has been replaced by a more economical 67bhp 1.0-litre VTi PureTech engine, which returns 65.7mpg. 

There's also a 1.2 VTi PureTech, which produces 81bhp and manages 62.8mpg in fuel economy.

The eco-special diesel Airdream models are better still - the 1.4 eHDi Airdream gets a range of mechanical and aerodynamic tweaks enabling it to return an average fuel economy of 83.1mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 87g/km. Plus, the 1.6 eHDi Airdream model manages a road-tax busting CO2 output of 99g/km. Costs can be reduced via pre-paid servicing deals.

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Last updated: 31 Jan, 2014

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