French manufacturer Citroën entered the Indian car market last year with the C5 Aircross. But this time, Citroën wants to hammer the mass segment. It happens that the Citroën C3 enters the scene. The new C3 is based on a new platform which will spawn many new models, including an electric model in the future. Well, we’ll talk about the future. We’ve driven the Citroen C3 around Goa and here’s what we think of the newest car in town.
Let’s talk about the look
In short, the Citroën C3 looks funky. In fact, it looks like a scaled down version of the C5 Aircross. The Citroën C3 is very distinctive. The front takes up the same Citroën face with the emblematic logo which is integrated into the bonnet of the car. The grille extends to become the uniquely shaped daytime running lights. The halogen headlights are positioned between the diverging DRLs.
Down below there is a faux skid plate and the fog lamps are positioned inside contrasting orange housings. The C3 is decidedly young among its competitors. Citroën does not offer factory fitted alloy wheels. You get alloy-style wheel covers on the 15-inch wheels. The C3 gets a thick black overlay and a highlighted square that are fake air vents. With the roof rails, muscular creases and square wheel arches, the Citroën C3 sedan definitely looks bold.
The rear of the C3 sedan is interesting with the wrap-around taillights, a roof-mounted spoiler and the black bumper with a contrasting silver skid plate.
The design of the C3 ensures that it turns heads on the roads. During our ride in Goa, we felt like we were driving a supercar with the attention we received from the public. All in all, the C3 has a large compact format to become the main vehicle in urban environments. It looks great and is definitely designed for youngsters.
A funky cabin
Citroën designed the C3’s cabin to complement the exterior. It looks modern and the color of the dashboard matches the color of the roof in the top variants. We don’t know how it will work with entry-level variants. The dashboard is covered in solid plastic with contrasting dimpled-textured parts.
The 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes center stage. It is in landscape layout and the graphics are very modern. There are various connectivity options including wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The design of the AC vents comes from the more expensive Citroen cars and they look great. Square vents can throw large volumes of cold air at you. There are no air vents in the rear, so those in the dashboard also work well for the rear passengers.
The air conditioning system is not automatic. There are dials to control airflow and temperature. The driver receives a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Citroën has designed the steering wheel to be smaller in order to maneuver the car quickly in small spaces. More on that later.
The steering wheel controls the infotainment system. The driver’s instrument cluster is a tiny monochrome unit. It displays a lot of information, including average fuel consumption and gear shift indicator.
Front and rear occupants do not have armrests. There are two power window buttons in the center console which are also accessible by rear passengers. Citroën claims the location allows front and rear passengers to use the power window buttons.
Rear passengers don’t get much. There are no reading lights. There are however two USB ports. Aimed at younger kids, the extra USB ports will come in handy for many.
Space and comfort
The Citroën C3 is synonymous with comfort! The seats are well padded and very well shaped to support the body. In fact, it’s the most comfortable car in the segment, hands down! The suspension setup also helps and we’ll talk about that in the next section.
We sit very high in the front seats, which ensures great visibility. Even at the lowest setting, you can see the whole hood. Rear passengers benefit from seats worthy of a theatre. This means that the position of the rear seats is higher than that of the front seats and offers a clear view of the road ahead.
Citroën has always been very generous with space. The new C3 is no different. It is one of the widest cars in the segment. This translates to plenty of shoulder room. In fact, Citroën claims shoulder room is 50mm more than the closest competition. You feel a sense of space inside the car. Although a third passenger in the back can be difficult, especially with the tunnel hump, the Citroën C3 can seat two very comfortably, even for long journeys in the rear seats.
The C3 also benefits from plenty of smart spaces. As there is space in the center console for the phone and other items. While you get large bottle holders on all four doors of the vehicle. The Citroën C3 also receives seat pockets.
Drive it around
Just as the C5 Aircross is the most comfortable car in the segment, the same can easily be said of the C3. Citroën uses progressive hydraulic cushion technology in the suspension. It gives a flying carpet effect. It’s definitely not a gimmick. Sat in the C3 for a few miles only to realize that the suspension setup is magnificent. It soaks up all the potholes and undulations in the road surface to give you a smooth and stable ride. There isn’t much vertical movement in the vehicle even when going through the speed bumps.
Does that mean the suspension setup is soft? No way. You can pull the car through corners without worrying too much about body roll. Plus, this “sedan” can reach some extreme places, if you have the heart. The Citroën C3 with its 180mm of ground clearance can climb over rocky surfaces and the short overhangs ensure that the bumpers remain free of scratches.
What powers the Citroën C3?
There are two gas engine options and we’ve driven them both. First of all, the naturally aspirated 1.2-liter gasoline engine that generates a maximum power of 82 hp and a maximum torque of 115 Nm. This receives a 5-speed manual transmission. The three-cylinder engine does not look like it. It’s very smooth and even at idle there’s no vibration to suggest it’s a three-cylinder.
The power delivered is very linear. The five-speed transmission gets high gear ratios. This means that if you’re driving on a congested road, you don’t have to change too many times. In third gear, the C3 can travel comfortably from 20 km/h to over 100 km/h. That’s a pretty wide range.
We also drove the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol. With the light weight of the car and the maximum power of 110 PS with 190 Nm of maximum torque, the sedan can achieve good speed over short distances. Citroën claims the 1.2-litre turbo engine can push the car to around 100 km/h from a standstill. Although we couldn’t test the claim, we can definitely say that the turbo felt very quick. Due to the high seating position, the C3 doesn’t look like a hoot, but it’s a fast car. The turbo engine receives a 6-speed transmission. The gear ratios are slightly different, which makes it accelerate faster, but the intermediate gear ratios remain high.
The naturally aspirated 1.2-liter seemed sufficient for everyday needs, but it never hurts to have higher power, if you have the spare cash. But we think the naturally aspirated engine is sufficient.
What is missing ?
Since we don’t know the price of the car, we can’t explicitly say that these features are missing. But features we think are missing from the brochure include alloy wheels, auto-dimming IRVM, pull-cord door handles, headrests on all seats and armrests for front and rear passengers. Overall, we think the headrests are the Citroën C3’s most critical lack. Head restraints can save passengers from whiplash in accidents and this is an important feature. The rest of the missing features can be justified by the pricing that we will know soon.
Should I buy it?
Again, we cannot give you a recommendation until the prices are published. The success of the Citroën C3 depends on the price of the product. With no sticker price, this looks like a great buy for youngsters who want to stand out in a crowd. It’s highly customizable and we think the new model will attract a lot of people to showrooms.