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Citroen C3: Test Drive Review

Date: 16 October 2009   |   Author:

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £15,200 (est.)
Key rival: Peugeot 207

It's a more grown-up, less rounded and bubbled C3 that replaces the first generation of Citroen's rival to the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 207.

Arriving in the UK early next year, the classier second-generation C3 even goes as far as to ape the looks of the most mature and sensible of superminis, the VW Polo, from the rear.

But Citroen has made big strides on the interior to increase the quality, while much effort has also been poured into the packaging. Unusually, the new model doesn't grow in size compared to its predecessor, which means it's shorter than all of its main rivals. Despite that, the 300-litre boot just about out-points those same rivals, though only by five litres against the likes of the Ford Fiesta or the Hyundai i20, and most are in the same ball-park. The boot sill has also been lowered to ease loading.

On the inside, like most superminis, seating an adult behind the driver is a squeeze, although Citroen has cleverly moved the front passenger's seat forward by 80mm to create more space for whoever's sat behind, while a slimmer rear seat has also helped add another 30mm of leg room. The dashboard materials and design is also a big step forward, as Citroen has previously achieved with other models in its range such as the C4 Picasso and C5.

But the big innovation on the inside is the Zenith windscreen, which stretches back over the driver's head, in the same way as the Astra Panorama launched a couple of years ago. The large screen, standard on all bar the entry trim levels and the eco variant, lets an incredible amount of light into the cabin and in many situations is a great addition. But it has several drawbacks. The sliding portion that can be used to block out sunlight feels flimsy and cheap, at odds with the rest of the cabin, while the sunblinds are compromised by not blocking out enough of the sun. They also don't swing around to block the sun coming through the side windows, and there are no grab handles for either front seat due to packaging for the interior lights. It at first appears to be an innovative feature, but isn't as useful in the real world as we'd hoped and in many ways is actually a turn-off. It's certainly worth having a proper play with it before making a decision on the car.

To drive, the new C3 is a step forward from its predecessor, with comfortable ride, well-weighted and accurate steering and an absence of serious body roll, although the loose gearchange that features in most Citroen and sister-brand Peugeot products is alive and well, as is a stereo system that could learn from more intuitive rivals. The 90PS 1.6 diesel, driven here in top-spec Exclusive form, is powerful, if not quite up with the class best for refinement, and emissions of 110g/km bring capital allowance tax benefits for companies.

The Zenith windscreen apart, the new C3 is a likeable, efficient and good-looking machine. But there is a worry the initially appealing screen could end up being a large irritation for drivers.

Citroen C3 1.6 HDi 90 Exclusive
P11D price£15,200*
Model price range£10,800-£16,200*
Fuel consumption65.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 110g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£33/£66*
Service interval20,000 miles*
Insurancegroup 5*
Warranty 3yrs/60,000 mls*
Boot space (min/max) 300 litres
Engine size/power1560cc/90PS
Top speed/0-60mph 112mph/11.0sec
On sale early 2010
VerdictBig step forward, but let down
by form over function windscreen
* estimated



Big step forward, but let down by form over function windscreen