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Small hatchbacks can be so passé and unoriginal. So how do you inject some excitement into a humble hatch? Citroen thinks it has the answer. Make it look like an SUV.
Cashing in on our love for adventurous off-roaders, the new C3 ticks all the SUV boxes - from its jacked-up ride and tough protective plastic cladding to its elevated driving position.
Better still, instead of being butch, the small Citroen is cute and characterful. Who cares if, without a trick all-wheel drive system, the C3 is actually more adept at tackling Swindon's one-way system than the actual Serengeti, when the petite Ford Fiesta-rival looks distinctive in the way its rivals just don't.
Boring, it isn't. However, to win over business users the C3 needs to offer more than those distictive looks, it needs to blend low costs with the sort of brilliance the current Ford Fiesta delivers. The early signs are promising.
We think you'd prefer the C3's interior over almost all its rivals too. Yes, for fit and feel the VW Polo clones still have it beat, but we can't help but like the bright an airy feel and mixture of materials and colours. Space is also decent.
Inside the C3
Inside, the small hatch has one of the largest boots in its class and there's just enough space in the rear seats for adults, at a push, with knee- not headroom the limiting factor.
There are more vents to cool the cabin, and the infotainment system now has a shortcut for the climate control, so you no longer have to scroll through sub-menus. Okay, we'd still prefer manual controls, but it's a huge improvement.
On the move, the most powerful 110hp 1.2-litre three-cylinder is smooth enough and offers plenty of go for the range-topping variant (0-62mph in 9.3secs). We started our drive with the jerky six-speed auto but ended up preferring the manual.
How does the C3 compare to its rivals?
The biggest drawback for choosing a C3 over a Fiesta is the Citroen's steering. It's nowhere near as precise as the Ford, and on your favourite road the Fiesta remains the better companion.However, the C3 fights back with a softer, more comfortable ride, and some might prefer Citroen's supermini for that.
Perhaps most impressive of all is that the small Citroen doesn't drop the ball for costs. It can't beat the Vauxhall Corsa for cost per mile, but it manages to match the best-selling small Ford.
Overall the Fiesta is still a better all-rounder, but in the small car segment if you fancy something a little more adventurous, it's nice to see the well-equipped, decent-driving C3 doesn't punish you, or your business, for wanting to drive something a little different.
Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech 110 Flair
Model price range £10,995-£17,095
Residual value 29.1%
Service, maintenance and repair £1365
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £1254
Cost per mile 40.0p
Fuel consumption 61.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 103g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month £45/90
Boot space (min/max) 300/922 litres
Engine size/power 1199cc/110hp
Cute small hatch is far more memorable and talented than the car it replaces