Citroen C3 review
The efficient Citroen C3 brings personalisation to the masses in the supermini class
In truth, though, the Citroen doesn’t really try to take on any of those three established names in their respective areas of strength. It doesn’t claim to handle as sweetly as the Fiesta, or be as refined as the Polo. Citroen’s trying to move away from heavy discounts, too, so it probably won’t be as cheap to buy as a Corsa, either.
Instead, Citroen has tried to embody one of its core brand values with the C3: comfort. That’s not to say it has some flash, expensive suspension set-up - indeed, look below the funky exterior and you’ll find lots of the same mechanicals that underpinned the last C3 - but the engineers have tried to dial in as much bump absorption as possible, and worked to make the car a relaxed place to be when it’s on the move. In lots of ways they’ve succeeded - which means that the C3 merits consideration by anyone who’s in the market for a supermini.
While the Citroen C3 used to be an also-ran in the supermini class, the current car is a strong contender for overall honours in the sector. It's the automatic choice for buyers wanting a funky-looking small car at a good price, while it has also spawned the C3 Aircross as its SUV counterpart.
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The third-generation C3 arrived in 2016 and instantly erased memories of its disappointing predecessors. Following a mid-life refresh in 2020, the C3 looks even sharper and is now offered in Feel, Flair and Flair Plus trims, while special edition versions often come and go from the range.
Other rivals for the Citroen C3 include the closely related Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio, along with the Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza from the Volkswagen Group family. The Renault Clio is one of the standout choices in the class, while the Mazda 2 and Peugeot 208 are both in the mix. However, the C3's unique style means it offers something distinctly different to its class competitors.
Running gear includes a platform that is a development of the C3 Mk2. That's no bad thing as it provides a comfortable ride, while the more important running gear, such as the engines and gearboxes, are a lot fresher and offer good everyday running costs.
Petrol power comes from Citroen's versatile 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder engine. Here it comes in 83 and 110 guises, and the latter gives the C3 great performance, while economy is on a par with the less powerful engines courtesy of standard-fit stop-start. Diesel power is taken care of by a 1.6 four-cylinder, although a range revision at the start of 2019 saw this offered solely in BlueHDi 100 guise.
All C3s are front-wheel drive and come with either a five or six-speed gearbox as standard. If you want an auto, your only option is to pick the PureTech 110 petrol in a top-spec trim, where an EAT6 auto is offered.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe efficient Citroen C3 brings personalisation to the masses in the supermini class
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe C3 is more comfortable than thrilling, although higher-powered petrol engines are pretty strong
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThree-cylinder petrols are pretty miserly on fuel; BlueHDi diesel offers an impressively low CO2 figure
- 4Interior, design and technologySome neat practical touches and a funky design make the C3’s cabin stand out from the class average
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceDecent boot for a modern supermini, but few other tricks to make the Citroen C3 stand out from the rest of the class
- 6Reliability and SafetyProven engines and well-known chassis parts should bring solid reliability, while there's decent safety kit