Citroen C3

Small cars are big business for Citroen, and with a vast array of engines and trims across three models - the C2, C3 and C3 Pluriel - there's something for everyone.

With adequate performance and excellent economy, the new 16v 1.4-litre engine will bolster the Citroen C3 range. The paddleshift SensoDrive gearbox is one of the best clutchless manual boxes around, but it may put buyers off.

Small cars are big business for Citroen, and with a vast array of engines and trims across three models - the C2, C3 and C3 Pluriel - there's something for everyone.

But just when you thought it had all bases covered, the company has de-cided that the C3 line-up needs a more powerful 1.4-litre engine. Based on the current eight-valve petrol unit, but with double the amount of valves, the new powerplant produces 90bhp thanks to its variable valve timing set-up.

Sitting in the range between the 75bhp 1.4 and the 110bhp 1.6, the newcomer has only one transmission choice - Citroen's semi-auto Senso-Drive system. Out on the road, the new engine delivers few surprises, but the extra valves make it keen to rev, and deliver sprightly performance. However, while SensoDrive is one of the best two-pedal manual gearboxes around, many buyers would still prefer a conventional box. And the hi-tech system has also affected the car's speed.

The new C3 sprints from 0-60mph in 13 seconds - that's actually 0.6 seconds slower than the 75bhp 1.4 with three pedals. But this means a 2mpg improvement in fuel consumption, to 47mpg. In day-to-day driving, this model feels much quicker than the figures suggest because of the variable valve timing, and downchanges aren't necessary on motorway inclines.

The price is yet to be finalised, but should be around the £11,100 mark, making it the cheapest SensoDrive C3.

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