Oh, dear! I really shouldn’t have preconceptions when I hear what car is coming up next for test. But, being only human, I do. I was prepared for a rather dull and uninspiring time with the Citroen
C3 1.6 HDi. But, in actual fact, I found the little car rather endearing.
The latest version has substantially updated looks inside and out that certainly make the C3 a considerably more stylish option. Inside the grey gloss finished dashboard and other refinements give the car a rather more distinctive, even slightly up-market, appearance. This is something that is needed in the post-Mini
, post-Fiat 500
era where style counts for so much.
For its size, the little C3 has bags of practicality, with four doors good space and a good boot.
The 1.6HDi engine may be just 90hp but it feels a lot faster than the 0-60 time of 11.3 seconds would suggest. That’s probably the usual diesel attribute of lots of torque, rather than immediate sprinting ability.
Translated into real driving conditions, what that means is that diesels may be reasonably easy to beat off the line, but they tend to perform better where it really matters – in the overtaking range. I found myself constantly surprised by the C3’s willingness to wind up on the acceleration out of dual carriageway roundabouts.
The engine also scores well on refinement. There is very little to suggest there is a diesel engine under the bonnet – the cabin being well insulated from noise and vibration.
The C3 scores around town and should prove popular with those who like light controls. The gearbox, in particular, may only be five gears, but it shifts gear very smoothly and precisely.
The suspension too is soft and absorbs surface imperfections – like the myriads of potholes that now litter our roads – with aplomb.
The handling is entertaining. The C3 grips the road well and with good balance and good feedback, the driver can feel confident in its ability.
Indeed what limits sensible cornering speed is the seats. They lack lateral support and you can feel yourself bracing to stay in place.
What increases the appeal of the C3 1.6HDi is economy. The combined fuel consumption figure is 65 mpg and, in the real world, I managed to record 60 mpg on country roads – a figure that, not so long ago, would have seemed nigh impossible. Carbon dioxide emissions are 110 g/km which puts the C3 in the lowest price band for UK road tax.
C3 1.6HDi Exclusive costs £15,290 and comes well equipped with cruise control and air conditioning as standard.