According to the European press release accompanying the launch of the all-new Citroen C3, “there’s a wind of change blowing through the motoring scene”, with a further promise that the new supermini will “rock the market”. Does this mean Citroen has been whistling to the tune of a certain German heavy metal band?
Promising no further references to mullet-rock, we’re delighted to say that Citroen is well and truly back. After years in the creative wilderness, Citroen can boast not one, but two properly cool cars. On the evidence of what we’ve seen so far, the C3 is a worthy stablemate to the C4 Cactus.
Citroen speaks of “exuberant freshness”, of an “unmistakable impression of well-being” and “chummy curves” when describing the C3. It’s all a bit sickly-sweet, as though the marketing team swallowed one too many caramellattes before penning the press release. But sift through the nonsense and you’ll find the C3 is “audacious by design, with a strikingly unique morphology”.
Enough already, tell us the real facts
A replacement for the ageing Citroen C3 is long overdue. Since its launch at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the C3 has been eclipsed by newer and dare we say, funkier superminis. Heck, even the Vauxhall Corsa has sharpened up its act, rendering the C3 as little more than a support act.
By all means buy one if the deal is right, but goodness knows there are better options out there.
New C3 is set to change all of that. Come on, look at the thing. Gone is the anonymous styling of old, replaced by something a little more 21st century. The overall look is one of a fun-size crossover, which is more striking than it is attractive. Citroen calls it a “go-anywhere” look, which is shorthand for ‘probably best to stay this side of that raised kerb’.
Love them or hate them, the Airbumps are back
As expected, the C3 is the second Citroen to benefit from/be lumbered with (delete as applicable) the Airbump panels, first seen on the C4 Cactus. These protective aliphatic thermoplastic polyurethane panels (probably best to describe them as plastic when you’re at a dinner party), irritate and amuse people in equal measure. But they’ve become a signature piece for the brand and the C3 suggests they’re here to stay.
The press photos present the look of a C3 that has been ‘personalised’ by a very creative customer and we suspect the car will live or die at the hands of the British punter. Nine exterior colours will be offered, along with three roof colours to provide a total of 36 possible combinations. The roof colour is matched by further touches around the car, including the fog lights, door mirrors, rear quarter panels and even a little accent on the Airbump panels.
Overall, this takes things much further than the C4 Cactus and we urge C3 customers to release their inner Tony Hart. Or Neil Buchanan. Or Mr Maker. Whatever, just get colourful. We rather like the sound of Power Orange with an Opal White roof.
Look, Mum, proper electric windows
On the inside, there’s a distinct whiff of C4 Cactus, but not so much that it simply becomes a facsimile of its big brother. So while you won’t find the luggage-style glovebox, the door handles and centre console will be instantly recognisable. The C3’s dials are also more conventional than the retro digital display found in the Cactus, while customers can choose from a range of different finishes and trim.
Anyone who has travelled in the back of a Cactus will revel in the news that it has proper, wind-down electric windows. Generally speaking, the interior, whilst hardly groundbreaking or segment-smashing, looks well executed and more appealing than say the Ford Fiesta.
So good, in fact, that Citroen claims the interior is “designed to feel like an extension to the driver’s home”. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, but in today’s connected world, smartphone integration and on-board apps are key factors for many car buyers. Needless to say, many C3 customers will be turned on by the prospect of ConnectedCAM.
Like the sunset? Shoot it
It uses a fully integrated camera, situated behind the rear-view mirror, to enable drivers to capture images and video to share on social media channels. This can be done in real time and drivers are able to shoot films up to 20 seconds long once the car is stationary. In the event of an accident, the video can run for up 90 seconds (30 seconds before and 60 after), to be used as evidence following an incident.
The majority of car’s functions are handled by the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which will include Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink at launch, along with Android Auto in 2017.
As for engines, buyers can choose from a range of PureTech petrol and BlueHDI diesel engines, all fitted with a manual gearbox as standard. An EAT6 fully-automatic transmission will be available as an option.
At 3,900mm long, 1,750mm wide and 1,470 high, the new C3 is longer, wider and shorter than its predecessor, with the boot space remaining unchanged at 300 litres.
The DS 3 is like so yesterday
Prices are yet to be announced, but we wouldn’t expect much change from £11,000. A tasty headline price, but in common with the C4 Cactus, you can expect that price to increase once you’ve added some must-have options and have been a little creative with the colour chart. You can expect the first cars to roll out of the showroom in October, which should help to add some colour to a miserable autumn day.
Does it stand a chance against the might of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa? That could be a big ask, but the success of the C4 Cactus suggests it might steal sales from the likes of the Skoda Fabia, Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Suddenly, these all seem a little dated and fusty.
Giving the C3 the look of a crossover is a clever move which could see the supermini swept along on the tide of success enjoyed by the unpronounceables. On the evidence of the new C3, far from being left to feed on scraps following the divorce from DS Automobiles, Citroen is the one holding all the creative aces.