Road tests

New Citroen C3 2021 review

The facelifted Citroen C3 supermini now has a revised engine range. We try out the tweaked PureTech 110

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Verdict

Further updates to the recently facelifted C3 have improved its efficiency, which is a welcome bonus. The PureTech 110 engine is punchy too, packing plenty of personality. The rest of the updated model’s improvements still stand, and the result is that it’s a comfortable, practical and affordable supermini that comes with some useful tech. Citroen’s individual approach is refreshing.

We’ve already driven the facelifted Citroen C3 – but that was before the company updated its engine range and changed the trim line-up, almost as soon as the new car had gone on sale.

The result is that the PureTech 110 model we’re driving here is now even more efficient, thanks to an optimised battery and alternator set-up.

This is our first chance to sample the 108bhp petrol option, which is the most powerful in the line-up. Like all of Citroen’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged units, it’s a gutsy engine (thanks also to the 205Nm of torque) meaning there’s enough performance on offer – especially given that the car only weighs 1,090kg. Refinement is fine, although the engine thrums away characterfully; instead, the bigger issue is the standard six-speed manual gearbox, which is vague and has a long throw.

The benefit of the improved efficiency and the car’s low kerbweight is that this model will return claimed economy of up to 50.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 126g/km, so running costs should be affordable.

Even in top-spec Shine Plus trim, thanks to a £1,600 discount on Citroen’s online store, this PureTech 110 model’s £17,450 price tag is appealing. However, that’s not the figure you should really look at, because Citroen is currently advertising a headline price for PCP monthly deals from just £222.

For that you get a good level of kit, as you’d expect from a range-topping version: 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, climate control, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, a seven-inch infotainment system and a rather natty new wood-look panel for the dash are all included.

That infotainment includes sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so connectivity is strong too, while safety tech such as lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking is fitted as standard.

The C3 has always focused on comfort, and nothing has changed. The chassis is softly sprung, but this set-up means it does a better job of ironing out craters in the road than most of its rivals. With its Advanced Comfort seats as well, the C3 is focused on cosseting, rather than thrilling you.

However, it’s a supermini, so there’s no escaping the relatively short wheelbase, which sometimes results in the car being bounced around on bumpy roads. But this is something that affects many of its rivals.

The C3 offers a perfectly acceptable driving experience. It’s not as entertaining as the Ford Fiesta or the SEAT Ibiza, but it’s clear it’s not trying to be. It ploughs its own furrow, offering a more relaxed drive, and it should be commended for that.

However, compared with the more modern crop of superminis, such as the Renault Clio and Hyundai i20, the C3 does lose out a little when it comes to practicality.

It still offers enough flexibility though, thanks to a 300-litre boot, which is a fair size. There’s a good level of room in the rear seats, too, so combined with its pragmatic approach, shunning sportiness in favour of suppleness, the C3 is a versatile small car.

Citroen also knows that supermini buyers value style, so the C3 is sporting a revised design, with a fresher front end that creates a family resemblance across the new C4 and revised C3 Aircross models. Along with the brand’s trademark air bumps that could save a dinged door in a tightly packed car park, the small tweaks to the C3 are about as effective as they could be. 

Citroen is focusing on electrification in other models, but it still knows how to build a small petrol car with plenty of character.

Model:Citroen C3 PureTech 110 Shine Plus
Price:£17,450
Engine:1.2-litre 3cyl turbo
Power/torque:108bhp/205Nm
Transmission:Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:10.5 seconds
Top speed:123mph
Economy:50.1mpg
CO2:126g/km
On sale:Now

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