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In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 - Interior, design and technology

Some neat practical touches and a funky design make the C3’s cabin stand out from the class average

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.3 out of 5

Price
£13,975 to £22,190
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The exterior of the C3 combines lots of Citroen’s recent design traits into a pretty funky-looking package. Facelifted in 2020, the C3 looks modern and stylish, which helps set it apart from the somewhat conservatively styled VW Polo, Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20. One of the features that makes the C3 look so distinctive next to its fellow superminis is its paint-protecting ‘air bumps’ on the doors, however, the most basic You! trim level doesn’t include them.

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Don’t climb into the C3 expecting it to be the last word in luxury, but Citroen has at least tried to follow up the exterior styling by creating a welcoming cabin that offers something different in the class. For example, top-of-the-line cars have “Techwood” interior trim with faux-wood strips on the dashboard and matching stripes for the seat upholstery.

The Advanced Comfort seats (standard on top-spec Max versions) are similar to those found in the innovative C4 Cactus SUV and they’re designed to be quite soft instead of offering supreme lateral support during cornering. The dashboard is very simple, fitted with a five-inch touchscreen on the base model, and a seven-inch display in all other trim levels.

Citroen also reckons the C3 is the ‘mainstream’ supermini with the greatest scope for personalisation – and there’s no denying that the extensive range of colours and options is impressive. There's a total of seven paint finishes available, a black exterior colour pack and two contrasting roof colours. 

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Entry-level You! cars come with 15-inch steel wheels, lane-departure warning, cruise control, LED headlights, electric front windows and a white contrast finish for the fog lamp surrounds and door mirror caps.

The Plus trim adds 16-inch Matrix alloy wheels, air bumps on the doors, a black onyx roof, automatic air con, electric windows in the rear, a reversing camera and a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. 

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Top-of-the-range Max cars get 17-inch alloys, Techwood interior trim, a spare spacesaver wheel, built-in sat-nav and extra safety systems like driver attention alert, autonomous emergency braking and Intelligent Beam headlights.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Citroen was one of the first manufacturers to move to a fully integrated infotainment system that controls not only music and radio, but also key vehicle functions, including heating and air-conditioning. The C3 continues this trend that’s now common across the industry, and every model comes fitted with a touchscreen in the centre console.

In all but the base model the seven-inch touchscreen is paired with Bluetooth connectivity and media streaming, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can mirror your smartphone. Shine Plus cars get sat-nav built-in, along with an enhanced infotainment system that also includes connected services, including TomTom Traffic, information on petrol prices nearby and weather forecasts, and real-time info on traffic incidents.

There’s plenty of functionality, but the touchscreen interface can be a little laggy. It’s the latest generation unit from Peugeot-Citroen, so the graphics are nice and sharp, but the touch-sensitive shortcut keys at either side of the screen aren’t as easy to use as the labelled buttons you'll find in a VW Polo.

Stick with the base You! spec and you get the tiny five-inch, black-and-white display pictured above, which sits within a large panel of plastic space that would normally be filled by the big colour panel. Given that this setup has no smartphone integration, it would be handy if Citroen had included a dashboard mount.

It’s still a touchscreen though, and has more functionality than you might expect, with the ability to delve into various car settings such as door locking and safety assist functions. What few functions are available are quite easy to use, too. Pairing a Bluetooth device is easy, although the USB socket’s position on the dash means a cable might get in the way of the gearlever, depending on where you keep your phone. It’s a little annoying that the system defaults to being switched off whenever the car starts up, too.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £12,975

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £12,975

Fastest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech 110 Shine 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,645
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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