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Car group tests

Citroen C3 vs Hyundai i20 vs Volkswagen Polo

We see if the new Citroen C3 shakes up the supermini market as it meets the Hyundai i20 and VW Polo

A glut of new superminis is set to arrive on the market over the next 12 months, and the first to hit the UK is the new Citroen C3. The hatch has been lagging behind the competition for years, but this all-new model aims to address that.

The brand has applied much of the same styling and engineering that made the C4 Cactus such a success, so in this sector full of talented rivals, the C3 certainly has individuality on its side.

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• Best superminis on sale right now

It will need it to beat our class favourite, the Volkswagen Polo. The VW was crowned Best Supermini at the Auto Express New Car Awards in July for its refinement, decent practicality, smooth engines and smart styling. It’s the complete package, and while the Citroen takes a different approach to tackle the same brief, it will have to deliver the same appealing mix of qualities to oust the Volkswagen.

There’s also an outside bet providing practicality for a similar price. The Hyundai i20 offers competitive levels of kit, while the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol model we test here has enough tech under the bonnet to match both rivals. Which comes out on top? 

Head-to-head 

Citroen C3 

Model:Citroen C3 Flair PureTech 110
Price: £15,995
Engine:  1.2-litre 3cyl turbo, 108bhp 
0-60mph:  9.7 seconds
Test economy: 40.5mpg/8.9mpl 
CO2: 103g/km
Annual road tax: £20

It’s clear to see the design of Citroen’s quirky C4 Cactus crossover has influenced the look of the new C3 supermini. The brand has toned down some of the styling elements, but it’s still not short of character, which is an important factor in a crowded class. Here we test the £15,995 C3 Flair 1.2 PureTech 110 to see if it can claim class honours for Citroen. 

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Testers’ notes: While the design has evolved, interior quality still isn’t the best. However, the quirky but functional design backs up the exterior. It’s also comfortable and spacious.

Hyundai i20

Model:Hyundai i20 Premium 1.0 T-GDi 120
Price: £15,525
Engine:  1.0-litre 3cyl turbo, 118bhp 
0-60mph: 10.0 seconds
Test economy: 41.6mpg/9.2mpl 
CO2: 112g/km
Annual road tax: £30

Hyundai’s i20 isn’t the biggest seller in the supermini class, but with the 1.0-litre turbo in £15,525 Premium trim, it offers decent tech under the bonnet and in the cabin at a competitive price, not to mention practicality and space. So can this alternative pull off road test victory? 

Testers’ notes: Our car’s £550 Iced Coffee metallic paint only comes with Black Grey cloth inside. Go for Sleek Silver, and the Blue Grey upholstery inside is brighter and much more vibrant. 

Volkswagen Polo 

Model:Volkswagen Polo beats 1.2 TSI 90
Price: £15,795
Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo, 89bhp 
0-60mph: 10.0 seconds  
Test economy: 43.6mpg/9.6mpl 
CO2:  109g/km 
Annual road tax: £20

The Volkswagen Polo is the class benchmark. As our favourite supermini, this is what the new C3 has to beat, so here we test the £15,795 1.2 TSI 90 Polo beats edition to see if the blend of refinement, quality, practicality and precision is still enough to take the Volkswagen to victory.

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Testers’ notes: This Polo’s white interior and red detailing won’t be to everyone’s taste, but in teaming up with beats audio there is at least a decent sound system with a 300W amplifier.

Verdict 

First place: Volkswagen Polo

The Polo is still our favourite supermini, as it offers the best blend of performance, practicality, price and efficiency. It’s head and shoulders above the C3 when it comes to ride and handling, too. The boot is smaller, although there’s still enough space for most occasions. The big benefit is that it’ll be cheaper to buy and run than the competition, plus it has a higher-quality feel. 

Second place: Citroen C3

Low emissions mean the C3 will be affordable for business users, but the price and steep depreciation will see private buyers spend and lose more money. It’s not the best car to drive, either; the inconsistent ride stands out. However, the individual sense of style, roomy interior and decent practicality establish the Citroen as a contender in the supermini sector. 

Third place: Hyundai i20

It’s powerful and practical, but the i20 is no faster or more versatile than its rivals. It’s blander, though, and in a sector where neat touches can make the difference, the dull Hyundai blends into the background. Factor in its higher CO2 emissions and it’ll be the most expensive car to run for company drivers, which could be a deal breaker for many people. 

Is it worth waiting for this model?

Nissan Micra Acenta IG-T 90

New Nissan Micra - front

Due: Early 2017 Price: £14,995Engine: 900cc 3cyl, 89bhp

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Like the C3, Nissan’s imminent new Micra is bigger, roomier and more refined than the car it replaces. It also features some clever tech that’ll see it rival the Citroen and VW. An equivalent-spec Acenta will cost £14,995. Deliveries start early 2017.

Figures

 Volkswagen Polo beats 1.2 TSI 90Citroen C3 Flair PureTech 110Hyundai i20 Premium 1.0 T-GDi 120
On the road price/total as tested£15,795/£18,410£15,995/£17,825£15,525/£16,075
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£6,950/44.0%£5,226/32.7%£6,750/43.5%
Depreciation£8,845£10,769£8,775
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£567/£1,133£542/£1,084£588/£1,176
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,428/£2,381£1,538/£2,563£1,497/£2,495
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£706/B/£2016/£690/B/£2011/£583/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2 services)£400 or £11pm (3yrs)£349 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase3,972/2,470mm3,996/2,539mm4,035/2,570mm
Height/width1,453/1,682mm1,474/1,829mm1,474/1,734mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc3cyl in-line/1,199cc3cyl in-line/998cc
Peak power/revs 89/4,800 bhp/rpm108/5,500 bhp/rpm118/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 160/1,400 Nm/rpm205/1,500 Nm/rpm171/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/repair kit45 litres/space saver50 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)280/952 litres300/922 litres301/1,017 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,107/488/1,000kg1,050/550/600kg1,070/535/1,000kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/N/A10.9 metres/N/A10.2 metres/0.33Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr5yrs (unlimited)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/22320,000 miles (1yr)/19610,000 miles (1yr)/173
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.24th/28th26th/18th30th/23rd
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars90/86/41/71/5 (2009)N/A85/73/79/64/4 (2015)
    
0-60/30-70mph10.0/11.0 secs9.7/10.5 secs10.0/9.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.4/7.6 secs4.6/7.7 secs4.9/6.6 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.8 secs/N/A11.0 secs/N/A9.9/13.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 114mph/2,000rpm117mph/2,500rpm118mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 51.0/36.2/10.6m53.7/38.8/11.2m51.6/41.2/10.5m
Auto Express economy/range68/52/66/72dB74/51/62/70dB68/47/61/70dB
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph43.6/9.6/432 miles40.5/8.9/401 miles41.6/9.2/458 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 47.1/70.6/60.1mpg51.4/70.6/61.4mpg47.1/68.9/58.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.4/15.5/13.2mpl11.3/15.5/13.5mpl10.4/15.2/13.0mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket150/109g/km/18%161/103g/km/17%157/112g/km/19%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/yes/£245Six/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/yes/no
Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB*£1,375/yes/yes/£395No/yes/yes/noNo/yes/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats£380/no/£360Yes/no/noYes/no/no
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£550/£900/no£495/no/£250£550/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yes£500/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes
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