Citroen C3

Smart, fast and frugal - by offering all three attributes, today's best superminis are minor miracles. And there's such stiff competition that no maker can afford to stand still - which is why Citroen has facelifted its C3.

With attractive styling, good handling and a strong range of engines, the revised C3 is a fine supermini. The new flagship diesel model is refined and hugely economical, although buyers expecting an oil-burning hot hatch will be disappointed. For everyone else seeking a frugal and attractive small car, the Citroen fits the bill.

Smart, fast and frugal - by offering all three attributes, today's best superminis are minor miracles. And there's such stiff competition that no maker can afford to stand still - which is why Citroen has facelifted its C3.

A bold, C4-influenced look has been adopted for the front grille, and it now features a larger chevron badge. At the rear, there are fresh taillamps with clear lenses. Inside, the dashboard boasts a neater design with controls grouped by a silver border on the centre console, although some plastics still feel cheap.

Far more significant is the work that has been carried out under the bonnet. Up until now, buyers wanting diesel power have had the choice of 70bhp 1.4 or 92bhp 1.6-litre units. However, to meet the challenge of performance-oriented rivals, the C3 has been equipped with the entry-level C5's oil-burner.

The result is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder 110bhp flagship. But with a 0-60mph time of 9.5 seconds, the newcomer breaks no records, and doesn't feel as punchy as some diesel supermini rivals. It also lacks the torquey urge you might expect - which makes Citroen UK's decision to sell the 110bhp version only in racy VTR trim, rather than the Exclu-sive spec seen here, seem miscalculated.

Still, forget its sporty positioning, and the new HDi has plenty going for it. Refinement is excellent for a car in this sector, while fuel economy of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km are among the best in the class.

All C3s get minor mechanical upgrades, including suspension tweaks and uprated steering. The latter is stiffened on the range-topper, giving a bumpier ride but making the car feel more controlled when cornering. As a result, it's more fun to drive along a twisty road.

Although exact prices for the revised line-up have yet to be announced, potential customers should expect an increase of about £200 across the range. The new 110bhp VTR diesel will cost £700 more than its petrol equivalent, placing it at around £13,300. After the inevitable cashback incentives, however, value for money is virtually guaranteed whichever model you go for.

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